MILL on the bank of the Agrafiotis 390.
(photo credit: OFIR ADANI)
The Greeks are notoriously suspicious of central government, and their national
identity even today is a work in progress.
Athens, which just last month
defaulted on its debt, is trying hard to develop international tourism in the
mainland. Tourism is a large part of the Greek GDP and Tourism Minister Pavlos
Geroulanos is aware of the untapped potential of the country.
government has a problem, though.
Greeks’ aptitude for misusing state
subsidies – which were par for the course in an economy which was
quasi-socialist for decades – makes Israeli cunning with taxes seem tame by
And so the government tiptoes when reaching out to the folk
who are ultimately the service providers of its inland tourism industry. It
offers guidance and assistance, but as a brief conversation with Geroulanos
shows, is wary of heavy-handed intervention.
Thakis’s restaurant in
Agrafa is a case in point. Born to a family of millers, Thakis nearly went
bankrupt when emigration to the major cities caused the village’s population to
dwindle. Additionally, his profession became obsolete, since Agrafans no longer
needed to stock ground wheat in their sheds.
Enter the government – and
its will to preserve the old flour mill as a building of historic significance –
in the role of Thakis’s own deus ex machina. The middleaged miller participated
in a program encouraging countryside tourism, during which he was led step by
step in converting the mill into a restaurant.
The restaurant gave birth
to other jobs in the village, including the supply of fresh produce, waiters,
and villagers opening their own guest houses. The slowly dying village was
reborn and started quietly flourishing.
It’s easy, and perhaps pointless,
to try to determine which government, or successive governments, are to blame
for Greece’s financial meltdown. Maybe it’s even the particular mindset of the
entire population and not the government’s fault at all. But from a purely human
perspective, it’s quite a pleasure to be welcomed by the
And after dining at the windmill, it’s satisfying
to see that at least in this case, the plan came together.