We are headed back.
In that complex and very unpredictable way that life works, where it catches you by surprise in an off-handed way, we are returning home. We have two, quite different, homes: Ohio and Greece. We landed at Eleftherios Venizelos airport outside Athens two years ago. We piled into our aunt's compact car. And as we came around the bend in the road that leads into Porto Rafti—a place that became our second home over the course of the next three months—we saw it: the clear, blue waters of the Aegean. From the time we had to say goodbye, we have longed to relive that moment; to come home to our sea.
Greece is a wild, untamed place. Its natural beauty is no rumor, nor are its manmade troubles. Its a land where the rhythms of life are informed more by the position of the sun in the cloudless sky than by economic indicators or the law of the land, for better or for worse. The Aegean Sea is Greece's crown jewel and Porto Rafti rests on her shores; nestled among the coastal foothills, on the other side of which you will find kilometers upon kilometers of silver-leaved olive trees, pistachio groves, and dry, thistle-y brush.
Porto Rafti is a town of 2,000 in winter and 50,000 in summer. Stray dogs and cats co-mingle with the patrons at seaside tavernas and cafes. Street vendors, slinging anything from grilled corn on the cob to terra cotta planters, proposition you in a language you won't understand. Groups of men drive by in rusted pickup trucks, advertising to all via loudspeaker that they will buy your unwanted junk. The airspace falls silent around two o'clock, when lunch has been consumed and all take refuge from the sun for an afternoon siesta. It's like clockwork, says our uncle.
We are convinced theirs is a way of life anyone could get used to, whereby (at least) two daily swims are an expectation and church bells can be heard ringing every single day. And we'll be living it out again, if only for a moment.
Home sweet home. Bless you, Greece.