Greek Isolation

It’s been a busy summer for me, and for the most part without wifi but with the amazing company of my friends. I have spent these long beautiful days of July and August winding down narrow streets in Tuscany or hopping from one boat to the other in Sicily, but between these two holidays was one of the most incredibly relaxing, refreshing and renewing five days I have ever experienced.

This serenity and peace I found in my aunt’s house on a small island in Greece. Among lush fig trees and a pebbled beach, this house, for me, was the epitome of unspoilt natural beauty. Take the steps up, and you walk towards the small town, take the steps down and you reach your own little beach. Five days spent listening to music, reading and relaxing there and not once did I see any other person in that quiet little haven.

Sheltered by a bamboo and straw cabana, I spent endless hours there, rekindling by old, but lost love for reading, occasionally looking up and, for the thousandth time appreciating the turquoise sea and the gentle but rhythmic lapping of the waves against the pebbles, and how lucky I was to be there.

The end of one lazy day and the prospect of the next was marked by breathtaking sunsets, each day’s goodbye more memorable than the last. I would often sit on the terrace and watch the sun hide behind the hills, while sipping some fresh orange juice, with my bare feet up against the wall and the remnants of the sea tangible on my skin as little salt flakes. This slowly depleting source of light was much more sacred there than it had ever been to me before, since in the room where I slept there was no electricity (and no running water.)

A gas lamp, which I have never used before but which struck an instant liking with me, was my constant companion after 9pm for those few days. Without a doubt, there is something incredibly satisfying about lighting these lamps; the instant where the match meets the gas, the moment dark becomes light and the low humming sound that follows.

Morning wake ups were followed by a breakfast of fruit and goat’s milk yoghurt from the local town, accompanied by freshly squeezed orange juice and an incredible view of the opposite islands, only partly shrouded by springing plants. There in the house was the sweetest greek lady, in her eighties or nineties who prepared delicious and authentic greek meals for us. A loyal lady, almost part of the family, I was told that up until a few months ago, she used to come down from the village on her donkey until she was unable to do so anymore. Her legendary character was well reflected in her cooking, making us the most delicious grilled cheese from her goats or her green bean dish (which she spent at least four or five hours preparing.) What I loved the most about her was the fact that she would continuously talk to me, sometimes giving orders, sometimes asking questions, thinking I understood greek (even though I was never able to reply to anything she said to me.) Sometimes when she would speak to me I could tell she was asking a question by the intonation but I couldn’t reply so I just mumbled something with a confused look on my face, and she would promptly start talking to me again.

Dinner usually consisted of more traditional greek dishes and some sort of fruit for desert. I was quite surprised to find it was mostly all healthy, and at the end of the trip felt I had managed to cleanse my body a bit of all the pasta and pizza I had been eating in Italy.

Besides that, reflecting while on the plane back to Italy, I realised what impression this trip had left on me. Whereas before I associated holidays with friends, socialising and lots of noise, now I can definitely appreciate the value of an isolated getaway; somewhere to do nothing, to collect your thoughts, to let live slow down for a while, before letting it speed up again. I returned to Italy thoroughly rested and completely in peace, content with life.

Hope you enjoyed this post x

1 comment

  1. i loved this. your writing is amazing. and this get away sounds like exactly what's needed. wow.

    good luck this school year,
    dalal //