Love bus catching on

What started as an experiment in international matchmaking by municipal officials in a bride-starved part of the Peloponnese could soon turn into a regular love bus service to Eastern Europe. Officials in a series of remote mountain villages in the Peloponnese plan to follow the lead of local authorities in the western Zacharo area, who are sending a busload of 40 unmarried villagers to the town of Vinnytsia, in central-western Ukraine, on Friday in search of local brides. Costas Asimakopoulos, mayor of the municipality of Paia – which counts just over half a dozen villages in the mountains south of Kalavryta – told Kathimerini that courting foreign brides was the only way for local villagers to meet marriageable young women. «No young woman wants to stay on in the village, as they all feel that all the benefits of civilization are to be found in large cities,» he said. «They may find trouble making ends meet, but at least they will have access to entertainment.» For male villagers, it is a different story. «Most men have property and jobs which they are loath to abandon,» Asimakopoulos said. «They are their own masters, whereas in a city they would have to work for others.» The mayor of the neighboring municipality of Lefkasio, Giorgos Bougioukos, hopes to bring foreign women to local villages – which will save villagers a long bus trip – following a formal twinning process. «We are already engaged in efforts to twin our municipality with a Romanian municipality,» he said.«Through a concerted effort, we aim to arrange meetings between inhabitants of the two areas. This will hopefully lay the groundwork for romantic attachments to develop. We will organize some event, women will come and stay with us here and we well see what ensues.» In the adjacent municipality of Aroania, Mayor Yiannis Filippopoulos hopes to refine the matchmaking process. «The meetings should be organized with the assistance of experts,» he said. «We must take into consideration the age as well as the educational and professional profile of the people involved. In other words, we will compile a series of curricula vitae.» «Afterward, we will organize a series of supervised meetings, and provided the people involved so desire, relationships may emerge.»