Kiato is one of those small towns where life passes slowly and people know each other well. In the evenings thousands of people come out of their homes to socialize.The most impressive memory I have from my childhood is that the elders were peaceful and the young were joyful. People with simple needs had accomplished a society that we are desperately trying to build today; a society where the golden years of the elders will be in peace and the tender years of the children will be free of worry and fear.
Elders sit on their home fronts telling stories and talking about the day's events. As you walk the streets, people greet you with smiles. Passing the neighborhoods on the way to the center of the town, you can see and hear children playing with carefree voices.
When you enter the center of town, on the main street there was the KOSTAKIAS Cafe where people were sitting inside and outside having a snack or drinking beer. Across the street from it was my uncle's jewelry store. As children we would run inside to see our uncles. They smiled, giving us a few drachmas so we could buy treats.
Next here was a coffee shop, always full of people, playing cards. Others argued about politics and football. And the bus station from which buses went for various towns and villages. Across the street from the bus station was the taxi line, if you were in need of a driver you had to search in the coffee shop to find him!
The diversity of the peoples walking the crowded street was an amazing site. Old and young, rich and poor, they walked together, talking as if age or who they were financially, did not matter at that time of the day.
Everything was available on that main street. Next it was the TSALIKIS store with its display cases full of cakes and pastries. Next to it there was the PAPARAS restaurant with its full staff kitchen and white tablecloth tables. Customers could sit in the inside or outside to have dinner.
When the evening ended and most of the people had gone home, it was disappointing. But the next day would become like a dream world again. It was so exciting that I will never forget it. It was the combination of many things - the mixture of people that would forget their jobs and their financial positions. In the evenings, on the main street, everyone was rich and everyone was respected.
I loved that street, as if it was every child's dream that had become reality. The pastry shops, ice cream shops, roasted nuts, fried loukoumades dipped in honey and cinnamon - it was a feast to satisfy a child's mind.
The main street was the cultural center. Everything and everyone were there. Our teachers walked around that street and we would hide in their presence if it was too late to be out. The Priest sometimes would walk by wearing the traditional black robe. Everyone bowed their heads respectfully when the priest passed.
It was on that street that you learned so much about life. Everyone had a job to do during the day. But after the sunset, everyone was outside talking and having fun.
Next, it was the KARAMALIKIS tavern (ouzeri) and across from that ANDROUTSOS bookstore where every year before school started, a magical world of books appeared. Next to it was the small hotel with its marble floors and stairways. At the end of the street there were more coffee shops where hundreds of people sat outside facing the town's square. Above the coffee shop was the Mayor's office.
Next to the coffee shops were more : the KAPAGERIDIS electrical shop, the KOSMAS fruit and vegetable store, and more tavernas and grocery stores. On one corner of the town square there was a water fountain running ice cold water from deep in the earth. At the other corner of the square was a newspaper stand with candies, newspapers and magazines widely displayed. The only newspaper not to be found was a local newspaper. There was no need for one. All the local news were broadcast by the people on the main street every evening. They were the town's newspaper.
Across from the newspaper stand was HOLEVAS yogurt shop where homemade yogurt and honey was served on marble-top tables. As you walked down that narrow street on your way to the sea, there were tables tucked between the vines and the trees always full of people having ice cream from the PITINIS shops. Then there was the LIASKOS movie theater where the roof opened in the summer to become an outdoor cinema.
A short wrought-iron fence surrounded with trees and plants enclosed the square. Inside the square was neat landscaping with flowers and wood benches all around for people to sit on. In the middle of the square a statue of freedom fighters and a water fountain all around it sprinkled water to the surrounding flowers.
In that square, life was obvious, as you saw children playing with joy, teenage boys getting the courage to talk to the young girls, and elders sitting on the benches relaxing.
Past the square was a street that ran along the beachfront and crossing that street was the town's small port, built from giant cement blocks. A few fishing boats were docked to the side. During the day many people were fishing and hundreds of swimmers would dive into the clear, blue water.
Walking on the beachfront one will find the soccer field where the local team PELOPAS, battled the visiting teams.
On the beach couples sat making dreams under the the moonlight. Farther down was the church of AGIA SOTIRA. You couldn't miss it because it occupied the whole square block. Restoration which began then has resulted in a current architectural wonder. West of the church, across the street, was our school. The two-story building boasted windows all around, most of them overlooking the sea.
Directly across the street from the church you pass the high school and KLIS bicycle shop where we rented bicycles to ride to nearby towns, GIZARIOTIS shoe shop and next to it SMIRNOGLOU general store, which was our haven as children. It was full of candy. Next to it was my father's taverna. Next to the taverna in the corner was FLOKAS butcher shop. Around from it, KARAGOUNIS fishery.
TO BE CONTINUED
From Chapter 2 (BIRTH IN AN AMAZING CULTURE) of Kiato-born Nick Ligidakis' latest book "THE HEROES OF MY THOUGHTS" , INKWELL PRODUCTIONS, 3370 N. Haiden Rd., #123-276 Scottsdale, Arizona USA 85251, Phone: Toll Free (888) 324-BOOK (2665) or (480)315-9636 Fax:(480)315-9641 e-mail: email@example.com or visit him at: www.inkwellproductions.com
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