Monday, 24 September 2012

Travel thoughts.......

I'm sitting on our little balcony at Hotel Spiros for the last time ~ bags are packed, bill is paid, breakfast has been eaten.  We are taking the Blue Star Delos ferry to Santorini at 1pm so I have a bit of time to sit and reflect on the last 10 days..........

First and most important, the time spent here makes me realize once again how lucky I am to be able to travel with the love of my life.  We are both healthy and have the means and the time to take these amazing journeys together ~  to share sights that are world renowned or almost undiscovered, to share meals that have been prepared with pride and love and passed down from generation to generation, to share time with people wherever we go that makes me realize that we are all the same ~ we love our families, we worry about health, our jobs, our relationships, our finances, and we keep hoping for the next day to be better than the last.

I also realize how much technology has changed the world ~ I was able to text my daughter while sitting on a remote beach on a little island in the middle of the Aegean sea.  We were able to FaceTime with our grandsons and hear about Seb's days at school and see Danielle's new haircut and watch Charlie crawl around the floor at amazing speed ~ all this while sitting on our little balcony at Spiros.  I was able to share my photos and experiences through my blog and FaceBook and keep in touch with friends who are in Paris, the US, other parts of Greece, and Canada.  We saw little old ladies in the most remote inland villages talking on cellphones and free wifi being advertised in many tiny cafes and bars everywhere we went.  The world is both a larger and smaller place and we are all connected, sometimes too much.  My hubby kept in constant contact with his work through e-mail and I kept checking the status of the stock markets so I can keep up to date with my work.  But we could also hear Charlie's giggles and Seb play his first out of tune notes on his new recorder.

We also got to experience the joys of nude sunbathing once again ~ we are so uptight in North America and nudity is so related to sexuality.  It's OK for kids to grow up playing the most violent games on their Nintendo and PlayStation systems, but heaven forbid they see a woman nursing a child or someone enjoying the sun discretely on the beach.  There is such a sense of freedom in enjoying the sea without a wet bathing suit clinging to you or relaxing on the warm sand and having the sun dry you off in minutes.  Many people seem to think only young people with perfect bodies can be nude in public.  Well, we spent 6 days on the nude beaches of Plaka and we didn't see any perfect people, only happy ones.  When you see people of all ages, all shapes and sizes, being comfortable with themselves and others, you realize that we are all beautiful.  Curves, wrinkles, saggy boobs and bellies, tanned backsides and lily white legs, private parts of all shades and sizes ~ it's all normal and it's all good.  In the end, who cares what other people look like. Be yourself and love yourself, at every stage in your life.  Life really is way too short not to.

The Greeks are a very devout and religious people, but they live their religion in a quiet, dignified way.  Religious icons are everywhere ~ in the homes, in the cars, on the walls of the streets as you walk by, in the restaurants, cafes and bars, in the shops and the harbours.  Little churches with their iconic domed roofs and crosses are seen in every town and village, on the most remote roads and in the valleys and on top of the highest hills.  Tasos, our taxi driver, crossed himself whenever we drove or walked by a church and kissed the religious pictures in every church we went into.  He did this quietly and matter of factly, never feeling he had to explain, apologize or sermonize. We saw many people do the same in our 10 days here and we felt a profound sense of respect for their faith and how they express it.  I can't help but contrast this to both how some of the more conservative faiths in North America feel like they constantly have to impose their religious views and morals on everyone else and also how the fundamentalist Islamist radicals have turned their faith into an excuse for war and killing, with the subjugation of women and the Western world as their goal.  I have always believed that God is inside of us and that he just wants us to be happy and to be kind to others.  This is how I have seen the Greek people live their lives in the past days and it's a way that I respect very much.  I know that God doesn't want us to hate and kill in his name ~ he wants us to love and respect each other.

Finally, the kindness and generosity of the people we have met during our time in Naxos has had a profound effect on both of us.  These people are facing difficult financial hardship, they don't know what the future holds and they have so much less than what we think we "need" in our North American, consumer obsessed lives.  Yet they never fail to take the time to make sure you are having a good time, that you have everything you need, that you are comfortable, full, satisfied and happy.  Everywhere we went, there was a little something extra offered, a kindness extended, a blessing given. The Greeks are also so family oriented and they just want to make life better for their kids and comfortable for their parents ~ really, what we all want out of life, but they seem to be able to make it their priority in a way we can't seem to.  Taking pleasure in a meal with family, a walk together in the evening or just sitting and talking and having a coffee or glass of wine ~ these are all things that are part of everyday life and are savoured.

My work is very stressful and I've come to a point where I am very unsure what I want to do going forward.  I've used this time on Naxos to do lots of thinking and to find perspective.  What is truly important to me going forward?  I think I know but am I prepared to make the changes necessary to simplify my life.  It's very difficult for me to make life-altering changes and I have struggled for 3 years to find a balance in my life.  I'm still reflecting on what I want and I know that I will be spending time on Santorini gazing out into the wondrous vista of the caldera and trying to decide what to do.

See you on Santorini........


  1. ahhh my lovely friend and Muriel... you inspire me with your beautiful your writings!!! I wish you continued success and much happiness always xxx

  2. Jo, you and Den are truly blessed, and the best part is that you know it and are grateful! Thanks for this post! Jane

  3. Oh Jo, what a lovely reflective and observant post.

    It sounds like you have had a glimpse of heaven in all sorts of ways, physically with the nude sunbathing, spiritually, by the way the Greeks celebrate their God and also by seeing the values of the Greeks, how they nurture what is really important in life. But this glimpse has made you question your own life and the value system you live in.

    I truly hope you find an answer to your dilemma. I am also torn between the two sides of my heart.

    I love the description of the nudist beaches. What freedom!....

    Thanks for sharing some of yourself

    Love Denise