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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

HOME AGAIN: CLOSURES & NEW BEGINNINGS

My wonderful vacation is over but already I am missing Greece.  If it were more practical for me to do so, I'd be living there again.  But because of my work here, my writing contacts necessary for publications (especially for my novel), and the current economic situation there, it isn't possible.  Over the years I'd made a couple of attempts to return to take up residency and each time something happened to thwart the plans.  If I could afford to be there six months of the year as I used to during the '90's, that would be ideal.  But financially I can't afford to do that. So I have to be satisfied with making it a holiday destination instead.

Each time I return, there are changes, and closures of a kind.  For one thing, a number of my very good friends have passed away during the last few years.  Others have left to return to their own countries.  I still have several ex-pat friends who have lived in Athens for years, and those are the people I go to visit.  I always stay with my friend Christina and her daughter Daniella as they are like my Athen's family. (I used to babysit Daniella from when she was a year old, and now she's a gorgeous 15yr old young lady!)  And each time I visit I try to see something different.
#14 Vironos St. where I used to live. Now all shuttered up with an iron gate sealing it all off!

One of the big shocks for me this time was when I went past #14 Vironos Street in Plaka where I used to live. Every time I am in Athens, and pass by the iron gate, I stop to peek inside the courtyard and reminisce about my life there back in the '80's.  This time, there was a huge iron sheet placed over the entrance with a door and 1 buzzer so you couldn't look inside the courtyard.  I expect Kyria Dina has either moved to her seaside home or perhaps even she has passed away, and now the house is under renovations.  It made me sad not to be able to look inside.  Just like three years ago when I made my last visit to Lala, the shepherd's village where I used to live part-time.  It was like a ghost-village with nobody around and many houses shuttered up, possibly because the old ones had passed away. 
Lala, Euboeia

I miss those by-gone times.  And especially I miss my dear friend Roberto.  It seems strange now to sit at the To Kati Allo Taverna where we all used to hang out, and most of the time there isn't anyone I know there other than dear old Ove (also alone), other than the nights the girls meet there.  I still enjoy hanging out though, and chatting to Anna and her son Dino who run the place.  And this time, I made friends with a nice man who works at the souvenir shop just at the corner. 

There are still many islands and parts of the country I haven't visited.  This year my friend and I spent four days on Poros which was a pleasant surprise as for years I had bypassed it. While I was visiting Poros I learned that a very dear friend of mine from Vancouver had passed away.  On the night I had this sad news, I was walking by the sea and the sky was brilliant crimson with a sailing vessel silhouetted against the sky.  I paused to say a prayer for Dora and took a picture of that moment. 

Dora's Sunset

Of course Dora's unexpected death shattered me but I was determined to keep on enjoying my time on the island. Unfortunately this was made difficult by my travel partner.  So after that we parted ways and I went on my own to the Peloponnese.  Solo travel is something I truly enjoy so that part of the journey was most memorable as I traveled down to Gythion and the gateway to the Mesa Mani.
I will certainly return to see more of it. 

And, for the first time since 1979 I made a bus tour visit to Mycenae, which included a stop at the ancient theatre of Epidauros.  So there were many excellent experiences during the three weeks I was in Greece.  Three weeks?  That was the shortest time I've spent there in awhile but I had been offered some classes this summer and decided that it was best not to over-extend my stay.  Wish I was still there though!  And for sure I'll be back next year!

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