For months, Greece and its collapsing currency and downtrodden economy
has been the focus of intense international debate. Money markets
worldwide have risen and fallen on the hopes of saving this country from
bankruptcy and sparing the rest of Europe and the U.S. from the
crippling domino effect its fall could have on their own sputtering
While the world waits for this fiscal drama to
play out, many Greeks are returning from late-summer vacation. Even in
the face of political strife that Milton says may spill into the streets
and crater what stability remains, this nation, as it has done forever,
essentially shuts down for the August holiday.
Greek way,” says Milton, offering a mild defense for behavior that seems
so incongruous to the state of affairs here. It speaks to the maddening
indifference some world leaders have railed about when it comes to
rescuing this country. Greek’s geopolitical importance as a democratic
port located on the doorstep of the volatile Middle East has long been
noted by American and Western European leaders.
Over the last
decade, Greece went on a debt binge that came crashing to an end in
late 2009, an economic crisis that has decimated the nation’s economy,
brought down its government and unleashed increasing social unrest. A
delicately knitted bailout supported by European economic consortiums
has failed to reverse the free fall because most of the billions of
euros sent to Greece has simply been used to pay interest on those
loans, not principal. So the Greek economy continues to struggle.
this seems to matter less to Milton, who prefers to talk about Athens’
beaches and his oldest son, a yacht captain for a well-heeled Greek
“Greece has been around a long time,” he says
near the end of my 90-minute cab ride from the Athens airport through
the center of the city to the harbor. “We are survivors, and we will
weather the storm. At what price, I just don’t know.”
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