ALEXANDRA-TRICHA By RACHEL DONADIO JAN. 8, 2012 CHIOS, Greece — Nikos Gavalas and Alexandra Tricha, both 31 and trained as agriculturalists, were frustrated working on poorly paying, short-term contracts in Athens, where jobs are scarce and the cost of living is high. So last year, they decided to start a new project: growing edible snails for export. As Greece’s blighted economy plunges further into the abyss, the couple are joining with an exodus of Greeks who are fleeing to the countryside and looking to the nation’s rich rural past as a guide to the future. They acknowledge that it is a peculiar undertaking, with more manual labor than they, as college graduates, ever imagined doing. But in a country starved by austerity even as it teeters on the brink of default, it seemed as good a gamble as any. Mr. Gavalas and Ms. Tricha chose to move back to his native Chios, an Aegean island closer to Izmir, Turkey, than to Athens. They set up their boutique farm using $50,000 from their families’ life savings. That investment has yet to pay off; they will have their first harvest later this year. But the couple are confident about their decision. “When I call my friends and relatives in Athens, they tell me there’s no hope, everything is going from bad to worse,” Ms. Tricha said on a recent afternoon, as she walked through her greenhouse, where thousands of snails lumbered along on rows of damp wooden boards. “So I think our choice was good.” Ms. Tricha knows where she stands/////. “My parents were from the countryside. They were farmers when they were young. I studied to avoid becoming a farmer. They were teachers. And then their daughter studied and then went back to being a farmer,” she said. Nevertheless, she added, “for me it’s like going forward, because I think we neglected the land.”/////////// CHRISTOS ROZAKIS, NIKOS GAVALAS,ALEXANDRA TRICHA, KOSTAS BOZAS, STEFANOS BOZAS, DR EVAGGELOS VERGOS, AGGELINA KYRIAKOPOULOU, ELENI BOUBOULI, CHRISTOS PAPAIOANNOU,YIANNIS MARKIDAKIS, ,POSTED BY SPYROS PETER GOUDAS TORONTO ONTARIO CANADA