stdClass Object ( [image_intro] => [float_intro] => [image_intro_alt] => [image_intro_caption] => [image_fulltext] => [float_fulltext] => [image_fulltext_alt] => [image_fulltext_caption] => )
"We're talking about poverty here. Do you think that horses don't eat much? How am I supposed to feed them? Each one of them eats a tone of barley per year, not to mention the hay. Three thousand euros isn't enough for me to buy a horse, plus five hundred for the saddle and the leads. The cheapest chainsaw reached the price of a thousand euros. All these years, I only have a tyrannical life to remember, and nothing else".
Worker in the burnt forest
John Dampos, the mule driver and lumberjack from Livadi, an authentic Vlach village of Elassona, is not at all pleased at the government which has abandoned the poor breeders to their fate. After the fires of 2007 in Peloponnese he loaded his horses and animal food on a truck and went to work in Laconia as a forest labourer. "We left our families for four months and went to Sparta. The defacement we went through can't be paid. But Spartans were good and honest men. God bless them".
John is worried about his little daughter's future: "What is she going to do when she grows up in a place where the only entertainment is talking about day works? Should she go away and never come back? Should I also sell everything and go to Athens, as my father keeps urging me to, since he cuts woods in his whole life and sees no future in it?".
He adores horses and PAOK
When asked about which football team he supports, John Dampos spontaneously answers: "What else, PAOK of Thessaloniki! I've lost my mind because of PAOK and the horses. PAOK, horses and dry bread, and that would be all. Do you see the horses over there on the mountain? If I whistle from here all of them will yell back to me. I love them and they love me. They kept me here. How can I not love them?".
John is a genuine Vlach, a man of Olympus, who knows the forest's mysteries and adores animals. The magic of this legendary mountain is hidden not only in its tops, but also in its direct and brilliant people, who insist on standing against urbanism.
TEXT-PHOTOS: GEORGE ZAFEIROPOULOS