Thank You Santorini
Greece has offered many lessons, most importantly a lesson on the value of living in the present moment. And oh how hard is that to do! As we flew over the turquoise blue Aegean Sea into Greece on Tuesday evening, steep imposing hills on one side and snow white cave-like houses built into the sides of the cliffs on the other, do you know what I was thinking, "Should I get bangs this Summer or go with a simple bob?" Just think about that. We were about to land on the enchanted island of Santorini, warm, blue, the most beautiful of the famed Greek isles and I was vainly pondering the merits of a shorter hairstyle. But Santorini wasn't having it. Not at all. Only moments after landing, it asked us in and we had no choice but to accept its alluring invitation. I clearly remember stepping off the plane, my eyes drawn to the towering hillside and saying to Chris, "Isn't this better than baseboards?" (Yes there are places on our twelve year old house that are baseboard-less!) There are many ways to describe Santorini. I should tell you first that the island is in fact a sunken volcano. Many moons ago, a massive volcano drove much of the island into the sea in a fiery eruption, leaving the rim (where most of the sixteen thousand people live) and a trio of small islands in the middle. The island itself is a symphony of colour. If Santorini were a painting, the artist would have asked for a simple palette of bluest of blues and a white that somehow seems to be the brightest, freshest white you have ever seen. The blue-white colours are most easily seen adorning the numerous Greek Orthodox churches that are scattered around the island like tidy chess pieces. There are steps everywhere, a necessity when a community is built not on the cliffs but into them. The sunsets attract visitors from all over the planet, all in search of the perfect picture of the twilight sun slowly meeting the sea. And of course, there was the food. I will admit that the thought of octopus stew, a Santorini specialty, was daunting! So no octopus for us! We ate a boatload of souvlaki and taztaki, pork belly, jellied orange peel and teeny tiny ice creams that looked like polar bars! The part of Santorini that stands out the most though has to be the people. We crossed paths with the most interesting characters, including an old Greek chef who toasted us with his homemade wine after we showed him a picture of the red point, two Albanian immigrants who shared their stories of emigration and the most memorable highlight, saying the Rosary with seventeen Dominican Sisters and two priests. I knew there would be stories here. These are sea people like us. I should also note that the people of Santorini have a sense of the passage of time that suits me. They believe that the day is divided into two halves, the time before sunset is morning and after the sun sets, night. The sharp divisions between morning and dinner time and evening serve no purpose. Time is less important there. So today as we leave Greece and sit at the airport in Athens watching people go by, Chris reminded me that we are indeed in a diverse place. You can't look around here and say "She looks like she could be from St. Mary's". In the last hour, we have seen a sheik walk down the corridor, heard languages we never knew existed and smiled every time. As we say goodbye to Greece and head to Germany, we will remember to live here in the present, in the now and I'll save my hairstyle questions for another day.