Paros: You Dream, You
We arrive in Paros covered in fleas and hideously offensive sunburns. My lips are so swollen that they put Angelina Jolie’s to shame, my metatarsals are still slewed so I walk with a limp and I’m pretty sure I have kidney stones. I am not well.
Squinting in the bright midday sun as the ferry ramp lowers to let us onto land, we are met with a quaint sea side town, glowing white buildings, each with turquoise shutters, doors, and accents matching the impossible blue sea at its feet. Even the rare act of defiance was graffitied in a respectable matching blue. Small fishing boats of every color bob excitedly at their leashes next to the road and the whole town seems to be awaiting our arrival, waving us in with ‘welcome home’ smiles; even the air smells wholesome and life affirming.
“I love this island,” Meg states with conviction just before we touch land, “I want to have a baby with this place.”
My younger sister Meg, has my father’s exact small and deep set green eyes, as well as his relentless and diligent obligation to planning. So it was no surprise that the day after I left on my trip back in May, she was telling me that we needed to book ferries and hostels for when she visited me in Greece in July. Despite being the worrier of the both of us, her ever futile desire to embrace the present like her older sister, keeps her much more open than my father to unexpected turns and breezy whims and I was addicted to pulling them out of her. Thus, we had ignored her instincts and planned nothing.
Meg had arrived in Greece only 4 days ago. After a night in Athens where the closest we got to culture was sitting atop the roof of our hotel looking out at the Acropolis and discussing on how to tell our Catholic father that Zeus was, in fact, real, we had set out for Mykonos, full of promise and excitement -the first island in our two week Cycladic Island hopping adventure.
Mykonos – the island of wild international adventures – one we had ALMOST saved for last because we didn’t believe we could top, was in fact a cesspool of sex-craved tourists, nightclubs, thatched roofs, and aids. And it had utterly destroyed and stripped us of everything we were worth in a matter of three days. (Blog post may or may not be released to the world at a later date depending on the offensiveness of its nature.)
This island is the supreme opposite to the last, full of motherly good will and breath taking tenderness. There are no nightclubs or more importantly, Australians; everyone is Greek and to our surprise, they love us. We are taken in at a small family owned hotel by the sea, Grivas, and Meg instantly longs to be apart of this family, desperate for their love and approval. The woman is tall and blonde with a natural, earthy beauty and a two-year-old baby girl on her hip as she shows us to our room. Her husband is tall and broad, handsome with dark Greek skin and can be found anywhere from fixing light bulbs to rocking toddlers, or bartending on any given night.
We spend most of our days at the restaurant down the street where they know us by name and love us almost as much as we love them eating everything in sight that resembles a gyro. Gyro pizza please; is it possible to get the fettuccini with a gyro on top; yes, I’ll take Saganaki but please add a gyro and double the fried cheese. Everything is laid back and peaceful here, so unlike the tourist trap of Mykonos we just escaped.
Against our brother’s wishes, we decide to rent an ATV and out of stubborn spite, I demand that I know how to drive one. Her name is Gertrude, this ATV we are given and she is a hot mess, red paint splintering from her core leaving white splotches on her body, her once black racing stripes are now gray and melted, but she is a fighter, spitting and spewing as she heaves breathlessly to get up every hill. Flying past cars and motor bikes on downward slopes only proves to be embarrassing once they pass us laughing as Gerty fails us in a mock attempt to get up every slope, slowing to about 2 mph from 30.
Still, she whips us around every curve and bend in the rumbling roads along the coast, the inconceivable turquoise water whizzing past at our side, a vision of sea foam and mermaid tears that can’t be anything but mythological. We stop at a forgotten folding rock of ancient ruins jutting out towards the sea and venture lightly into this ancient habitat, careful not to wake whomever clearly still claims it. The bright sun and piercing blue waters peer through the cracks in the walls and the wind whips through the windows, rapaciously whipping into scornful torrents within the abandoned stone walls echoing the howls of Aphrodite’s broken heart. A crumbling stone carving outside along the bank reveals an ancient Greek script translating “with their lives in the embrace of the waves,” and now I’m sure we need to live here, right in this stone wreckage left behind in a fury of Olympic waves.
Meg agrees and so it is settled, we will move in with the Grivas family, and live in this little village until we are as old and dilapidated as this ancient rock temple.