Waves of remorse

Catherine Fieschi on the psychological price Greece and Italy will pay for the lost lives of refugees

The World Today Published 27 September 2018 Updated 8 February 2021 2 minute READ

Catherine Fieschi

Director, Counterpoint

In the summer months, the tiny Olive Tree beach in Agia Efimia is the site of an early morning ritual: each day six rotund women, aged between 70 and 85, bob and float for an hour, exchanging news and gossip. There is little swimming involved − this is an advanced class in treading water. No hair gets wet. But the protagonists laugh and chat in the blueness that sloshes over tiny white pebbles. When people arrive, the ladies share subjective temperature assessments, local schedule adjustments and news about various ailments.

As the day advances they are joined, then replaced, by whole families, by teenagers who slide off the rocks, and more serious swimmers who go from cove to cove along the Kefalonia coast. When the swimmers emerge after a particularly long swim a congratulatory buzz rises from the waves.

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