|Mykonos reservoir about to run dry. More photos below.|
A half-dozen years ago, one of the fictional characters in my debut novel, Murder in Mykonos, said, “I’m like a Mykonian: I’m used to living in a bordello—filled with police.”
Just the other day I heard a Mykonian say, “Mykonos is a brothel run by police.”
I guess you could call that evolution.
Frankly, I’m not sure who’s running it now. Certainly not its elected officials. The new mayor does not take office until September, so none of what I’m about to say is directed at him, except of course to point out what I trust he already knows: Mykonos is in desperate need of order.
Those with influence build as they wish wherever they want—beaches and building codes be damned; all drive and park with reckless disregard for each other and pedestrians; garbage and construction materials are dumped with impunity wherever convenient; noise regulations are disregarded if it stands to make the right folks money; and municipal licensing and tax laws selectively ignored or unenforced.
And why, pray tell, is all this done?
For the benefit of the tourists is the answer, or rather the benefit of those who profit off their presence—for one could hardly say the lack of pedestrian walkways, taxis, and public bus transportation benefits tourists.
Yet, it’s incontrovertible that tourists love it here. At least a certain kind of tourist does. Why wouldn’t they? Amid its beautiful beaches, heavenly weather, and pristine sea they can behave in a manner utterly unthinkable back home, for Mykonos has evolved into a place where rules are not enforced nor statistics made public that might shock some into clearer thinking on the downsides of unfettered personal freedom amid a place literally immersed in natural (and artificial) intoxicants.
It’s a three-month open party. One that Mykonians once treated as a harmless tourist tsunami—sweeping in each June and receding by September—providing what they needed to keep their treasured island alive for the balance of the year. But the tsunami now carries away far more than it contributes, draining away the very spirit and identity of the island.
It is a place for profiteers unconcerned with the long-term health of the island. The businessman who avoids paying the fees and taxes he legitimately owes is not a colorful character beating the system, he’s a villain wrecking the future of every Mykonian child in the island’s underfunded schools, damaging the year-round quality of life for every Mykonian who must suffer with bad roads, understaffed public health facilities, and garbage polluting every vista, every nostril, every day.
And it is a place where thousands of fish are about to die as one of its two municipal reservoirs runs dry because of poor municipal planning. There is an old adage that “a fish stinks from the head down.” In this case I think there are thousands of heads to blame.
|Views from the southern foot of the reservoir moving north.|
Welcome to September, Mr. Mayor, we’re all rooting for you.
PS. Happy Birthday, Barbara my love.