Send a wish upon a star…
Traveling to the Greek islands was a long time dream. If asked where I wanted to go, Greece topped my list… the islands to be exact. Why? Those gorgeous photographs of white buildings and brightly colored roofs, rocky shores and dark beaches, suntanned, smiling people. Plus if you put me on a beach with bright sun, a turquoise sea, warm weather and flip flops you’ve got one happy girl.
I first arrived 48 hours ago. When I drove up to my self-catering accommodations, no one was there. The entire beach community seemed deserted. It was off-season but I thought there would be more people around. I had this ‘uh-oh’ thought I might be in for a solitary time of it. Fortunately the owner drove up with his brother as they were doing some work on the property. He had thought I would call him and I didn’t realize this; I don’t even have a phone with me.
After I got settled in I drove into the larger village nearby to get some food and find out about the markets and cafes. I wandered around and ended up in a café called Mike’s. A woman named Helen from Australia worked there. Upon finding out that I was here alone, she instantly offered support. She invited me back the following night and said she would get some information on a parade that was happening and some places on the island that I might like to go to.
Next door to where I’m staying is a tiny house and the front porch is like a Hawaiian lanai. There is a weight bench and weights–this is one thing I miss having a gym for, lifting weights. As I was passing by the guy living there was outside so I waved and said hi. He spoke English as he’d lived in the UK for several years, returning to the island after his father’s death a few years ago to help support his mother and ensure she moved forward with her life. He said, ‘Whatever is mine is yours. Just ask.’ So I asked about the weights and he said, ‘of course, use any time you like.’ That is the way everyone has been pretty much… so kind, generous and open.
I hiked around the next day and took a wrong turn. A woman stopped me and asked me where I was going and I pointed to the big hill and said up there. She told me I was going the wrong way and she would give me a ride in her car back down the hill and show me the path that would take me up the hill, telling me it was difficult to get up there. She asked me questions, wanting to know about me and I told her I had sold my house and was traveling and writing. She loved it. I asked her if she lived nearby and she told me she owned the hotel in front of me. I wanted to get her story so we went into the hotel to get her email address from her son, who was in a business meeting, so that I could connect with her and arrange a time. She gave me a lot of good suggestions for places to see and islands to visit. A lot of businesses around here are fun by many members of a family; it’s really interesting.
Although tired, I went back to the village and met with Helen. I found out that the parade was part of a day of celebration of Greek independence; it is a festival day here. Of course I would go. She brought me a hair dryer to borrow while I’m here because I mentioned I didn’t have one here and did she know a shop where I could get one? Her friend came in the cafe when I was there and told me that anything I needed, just say so. This place gives me an incredibly strong sense of community. I was a bit concerned that I would be alone here in the off-season but it’s been brilliant. It’s all local people here now and a strong sense of family; they just took me in.
I woke up with eight mosquito bites on my face. There was not a swarm of mosquitoes, only one, but it did all the damage. Fortunately they are tiny welts and aren’t itchy. Usually I swell up and itch like crazy. I went to town to get this stuff that you plug in and it smells and drives them away but the store was closed.
Traditional Greek music, dance and costumes and all the people in the community were out today at the festival. An older woman dressed in the traditional black attire, head covering, skirt, stockings, grabbed my arm to steady herself as she sat down on the bench next to me. She was happy for me to take her picture. In fact everyone was. Several teenage boys who were pestering some teenage girls with a little puppy came over and motioned for me to take their picture, crowding around to see it.
When I got back to my place, the owner and his wife and children were barbequing with three generations of his family, Greek music on the radio. He said they wanted me to join them; they had fish that they would like to cook for me. I sat with them and they poured local wines and fed me fish and traditional Greek bread. The owner’s brother, sister and mother were there. The mama kept telling me to eat, eat, drink. The owner’s brother is soon going to marry his girlfriend, whose father was also there. I asked him if he was going to have a big Greek wedding. He said they had a very large family so of course it would be quite large. The soon to be father-in-law says no, no,no, encouraging me not to say anything else… all with a smile. It was so sweet to see the son lean over and talk to his mother… so much love and kindness. He poured the wine and the last of the bottle ended up in my glass, which in Greece means you are soon to be married… wonder if there’s anything to that.
To all the Greek people… forgive me my pronunciation but if I stand a chance of getting it right, stop pouring the wine.
Traditional dance at Greek Independence festival
Greece Independence Festival Day