This week I got to continue my travels in Greece! My parents joined up with me which was very cool. It is so funny the second country you immerse yourself in. I find India being my reference point instead of America, which is surprising. My first night I was marveling at everything: the cleanliness, the waiter turning over our wine glasses, everything being white and glorious. It was a whole new world. That being said, Greece is spectacular. It has been my dream to come here since I was fourteen, and I can’t get over finally being here. Every day in Greece I wake up to the magnificent, indigo ocean surrounding me, which is somehow both isolating and comforting at the same time. I think it might be the brightest blue water in the whole entire world. I’ve never seen anything like it. Petite, white villas scatter the cliffside like confetti, and the golden mountains pose as omniscient beings that keep you from ever feeling lost. It is a peaceful and primitive landscape, bright and dreamy in the summer light.
The people here are wonderful. First of all, they are way too good looking. It should be illegal. I am so distracted when they speak. All of them, even the children (creepy?). They must all be descendants of Helena. More importantly, there’s nothing like the Greek spirit. The enthusiasm and unabandoned love they desire to give to every single person is unreal. Maybe that’s why they’re so attractive, because they are so in love with life.
One morning, I was browsing a small shop on the beach and the shop owner and I got along well. Her name is Dimitra, and she is kind and strong and beautiful. She’s like the Greek, thirty-something year old version of Kate Winslet. We exchanged life stories and met up at a concert and drank wine and I think she might be my Greek soulmate.
The things the people say here are so peculiar. To them they speak in broken english, but in that brokenness they say the most poetically succinct ideas. At the concert I went to take a photo and Dimitra put down my camera and said, “Not now, for this is the magic.” And she was right. Within moments an astonishing piece of music unraveled and the crowd went simultaneously wild and silent. Earlier that night at dinner my dad told the owner, Costas, that he had good people skills and was great at business. Costas replied, “No no, not for business. To give the filling.” With further conversation we realized he meant he’s not trying to just do business, he’s trying to have a business with integrity. They also say things like, “The prime minister say a lots and the politicans eat the money” or “I made a little problem in your house last night, just a very small fire.” These people are great. Amongst them all, I met a woman from Irvine wearing the same earrings as myself that we both got at the Target by the street I used to live on. You just never know.
The history and mythology of this country is amazing. I’m completely geeking out on it all. I hiked the Acropolis ruins, which serves as an exciting invitation to the past by day and a luminous memorial by night. Also hiked an ancient city called Akrotiri with a fascinating story. This city was built around mid-5th millennium BC, and was ruined by earthquake after earthquake. The people’s ruthless tenacity enabled them to rebuild every time, and they were an incredibly sophisticated society. Maritime trade, intricate art & architecture, a systematic sewer system, and highly structured education were all bits of this flourishing city. Then, mid 17th- Century BC during the third rebuilding of the city, the volcano erupted, covering the entire city in molten lava within seconds. The gusto, progress, intelligence..everything was gone instantly. Until 1967 when they began to uncover bits of Akrotiri. Seeing the whole city laid out today felt important, like something so dear to history that was violently and suddenly lost could finally be recognized.
This week I decided to get my scuba diving certification! Because I passed by a sign advertising it so how could I not. It has been so wild. I’ve decided that if I can keep my cool when my oxygen tank is turned off 10M underwater and I have to find an alternate breathing source, I’ll be okay. The hardest part was getting past the mechanics of it all, so many procedures and gadgets and levers to gear up and down in. I usually skim through technicalities, but with so much at stake there was no margin of error here. But after that it was just glorious. I swam a giant fish reef with thousands of fish swarming my face and body. I felt like Ariel. An eel popped out at me! I stayed back from that dude. The last day we got to dive to a ship wreck, swimming through the ladders and decks. I paddled into the ill-fated captains pulpit where fish were feasting on the dynamic aqua life living on the wheel. I went to the ship’s bow and maybe Kate Winslet is just on my mind a lot this week but I couldn’t help screaming into my air mask for Jack. Unfortunately, Leo didn’t show up. On the swim back I saw another ship anchored at the bottom, but floating freely on the top. It made me think of how I was anchored with all the mechanics, but swimming freely through the Mediterranean Sea. Then my metaphorically-bound brain convinced me that if I could stay anchored in my own life’s mechanics, I could float as freely as that ship. When I got home I did my bank accounting and flat search for London. So maybe I’ll feel like I’m floating soon.
One day we had to dive during a storm. As we got in the boat to head out, the captain said, “I know it’s really cold, but at least we’re all in the same BOAT!” These men are fantastic. On the way back from that dive, I remember being under water and looking up to find my eyes in rapture. The water shone every fathomable color, it was like swimming inside a kaleidoscope. As soon as my head was above water, I found myself in a dark, ebony bay with rainwater crashing down. It was the weirdest juxtaposition. The first rule of scuba diving is, “Pressure has no effect on water.” So I’ve been trying to figure out how humans can metaphorically become water. The bay where we dive is one of the heresy locations of Atlantis! Maybe I should have dove further to see if I could find it. The final part was a 4 hour written exam, and I had to say goodbye to all my dear seamen. I plan to bug them all if I ever come back, but already I feel like this is my community. How bizarre. I could stay here forever with these wild and wonderful seamen, scuba diving in the dreamy satiny blue sea, eating vegetable stew on the shore side, drinking hot wine and teasing eels and going all day with wet and salty hair.
In one word, Greece is majestic. India was a beautiful and wild ride, but with it came philosophical fog and an uprooted heart. Greece is the healer. It is light and love and the ability breath. There are also little green olives with every meal and delicious wine..thank you Dionysis. Although the trip has been more about letting in light, so perhaps I should be thanking Apollo. You just never stop marveling at the magnitude of the beauty here. I didn’t much see my beloved Oia cliffside that I had always envisioned myself on, but I did stand on the same grounds, make a community on the black beach, and get certified in scuba diving. It reminds me of India, how I didn’t much work at the hospital, but I did help in a C-section, reconnect with distant family, and work at a couple amazing schools. It’s like with the loss of a particular vision still comes a taste of that goal, a great group of people, and an unexpected experience. It’s funny how travel morphs things.. plans, minds, the clothes in your suitcase. I’m still trying to reconcile the fact that the bare naked infants sleeping on the Indian street curb two weeks ago are still there this very moment. I got to have the light of Greece, but they didn’t get that breath of relief. I have yet to quell that horror.
I am grateful for the time thus far, but I’m very ready to push forward into school, living alone, navigating a new world, and finally making art again. I have missed my art, and became aware of that sooner than I thought I would. India gave me color and greece gave me light..and I think my art needed more color and light. My art needed me to get out. So I did. And now despite being on the other side of the world, I am returning to my art, and I feel like I am finally coming home.
“Leave some room in your heart for the unexpected.”