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Life in Greece, Transition and a Conundrum

“Lately, it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip it’s been.” — Robert Hunter, Grateful Dead

 

Life in Greece

 

It’s my first summer in Greece and the scene is entirely different than what I’ve experienced before.  Tourists arrive from all corners of the world and now I’m on the other side of the traveling equation, as a local, watching them (try to) roll their suitcases over well-trodden cobbled streets, watching them photograph the glorious sunsets and scenes that I enjoy daily and watching them hit the beach with the exuberance of holiday-makers with limited time.

 

Molyvos at sunset

Molyvos at sunset

 

Meanwhile, I have become a cliche of the foreign woman in Greece.  Slowly, I am adapting to the oh-my-god-is-everyone-on-sedatives? sedate pace which is a big step forward in my overall contentment. Sometimes things do get done quickly and easily and that’s always a nice surprise.

 

Anyway, efficiency, I am learning, is not entirely necessary in this environment.  There are few who have a long commute to their jobs, there isn’t the pressure of trying to acquire the latest gadgets, or pressure to raise the most well-rounded kids, or demands on keeping a mansion in order, or expectations that one be physically perfect, workout daily at the gym (there is no gym), correctly choose from a thousand kinds of cereal at the grocery store (9 choices in high tourist season).  Nobody expects you to get your business attire cleaned (haven’t seen a suit except on my wedding day), get your oil changed (few have cars), and come home after a long work-day radiating positivity while making a healthy dinner despite your lack of time or energy.  You get my drift.  It’s not the city life.

 

Wash drying in a Molyvos alleyway

Wash drying in a Molyvos alleyway

 

No, here, since the summer has been mercilessly hot, my rhythm has slowed even further.  If I were any more relaxed I would need life support.  My hair has gone wild, I’m routinely dressed in long white linen dresses that skirt bare feet, looking like I stepped out of a softly-lit feminine hygiene commercial.  I pay no attention to the clock but only to sunrises and sunsets.  The basil plant in the yard gets a rub between my palms throughout the day just so I can enjoy the scent.  I scramble fresh eggs for stray cats who visit daily.  I take pleasure in the time-consuming act of preparing meals from whole ingredients.  I love picking burs from shepherd’s socks and hanging freshly washed clothes on the sunlit line.  I enjoy so many simple, small things that I never did before because I was always rushing. 

 

It seems I have arrived at that place that I desired for so long;  the place where, as a dreamer, all possibilities are open and time is plentiful.  And the strangest thing is that after decades of desiring this and thinking of all the things I would do if only I had some free time, now that I’m here, scrambling eggs for cats seems to fulfill me!  Sure, I have ideas, lots of them, and they will develop with time, some of them will bear fruit, but I’m enjoying the experience of having a clean slate, a loving partner, and a home.  I’m in a wide open space.  It’s beautiful. 

 

My Conundrum

 

I have a conundrum with this blog, which has been maintained as a labor of love and as an act of service to inspire others, especially older solo women, to travel.

 

But, now I am not a nomad.  Now, I live in a small traditional village and also a fishbowl.  This new American is a curiosity to some people and for others, someone new to talk about, whether or not the talking has any basis in fact.  Thankfully, I’ve reached the age that I don’t care what people think of me (doubt I could’ve handled this when I was younger) but now more than ever, I value privacy.  I’ve also married a private person who understands this corner of the world a lot better than me.  He advises that telegraphing my personal life might not be a good plan.

 

Antique Lesvian Sheep Collars with Beads and Cowrie Shells

Antique Lesvian Sheep Collars with Beads and Cowrie Shells. This has nothing to do with the content of this post, but aren’t they beautiful?

 

I’m pained because I have so many observations, revelations and stories that I’d like to share about life here.  But I can’t.  Firstly, because I’m a guest in this country and I don’t wish to offend anyone.  My sardonic humor can easily be misunderstood especially by people who don’t read English fluently.  But secondly, the best stories involve people and in such a small place inevitably the characters could be identified.  So, I’m bound up and scribbling notes about things that I’m certain are hilarious, which will probably never see the light of day.

 

I’ve considered my options here: start another blog anonymously, require a password for this blog, write a book under a pseudonym, write about topics other than travel (but travel is why you’re here, right?) or Greece or write shallow “Top Ten Things to See, Do, Blah, Blah, Blah” posts which would be a boring waste of everyone’s time.  Maybe you have another idea?

 

Cafe under flowers

 

Am I still Traveling?  Is this a Travel Blog?

 

Ever since the Camino, despite periods of rest in certain places, psychologically I’ve never stopped traveling.  I’m still on the Camino five years later, watching magic happen and life unfold wondrously.  Even this year, despite being in the same village since January, I still feel that I’m on a huge adventure.  This suggests that to some extent traveling is a state of mind.

 

My wanderlust and curiosity about other places has gone nowhere but has mellowed because I’m delightfully content. I’m also incredibly satisfied that I’ve seen nearly every place I ever dreamed of seeing in my life (except Egypt and Madagascar and Senegal and…).  Now everything else is just icing on the cake.  I will travel again, but in the meantime, what does that mean for this blog?  It seems I have outgrown it.  Now what?

 

When I started this blog my purpose was to let my family know I was alive.  It morphed into something different.  As my writing skills and confidence improved I started receiving messages from people, especially women, that my writing inspired them to venture out solo too.  Gold!  And this is the reason I have persisted.  While I figure out what to do with this blog, whether it goes dormant, continues as is, or transitions into something new,  I am still here to encourage you in your travel dreams and assist with advice.  I’m happy to share what I know.  Reach out.

 

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“There is nothing permanent except change.” — Heraclitus

 

Thank you for being faithful readers thus far.  Thank you for your kind words and encouragement while I traversed peaks and valleys all over the world.  Dreams can come true.  Until we meet again, safe travels.

 

30 Comments

  1. I hope you continue to share your experiences in some format. It is great that you have embraced and respect the new lifestyle that surrounds you. I shared you blog with a friend of mine who’s family is from Lesvos. He says the town you are in is beautiful and enjoyed reading about your adventure. He has been there many times!

    I still think of doing the Camino – or Hadrian’s Wall – or another walk somewhere. Things will fall into place. They always do!
    I’m happy you are happy!

    • Hi Martha, Thanks for your kind thoughts. I edited some of your personal information out of your comment for the sake of your privacy but it sounds like you have some exciting opportunities ahead. I appreciate your support and wish you the best.

  2. Laura, your new life, your happiness and contentment have been a joy to read about. John and I have followed your posts now since the EPW days and have loved both the stories and the fine photography. We’ll miss you if all contact ends, but whatever happens, our best wishes and affection go with you. It’s been a pleasure “reading” you, Laura.

    • Thank you Erika and John for being a part of this experience and for your kind words. I will let you know if I continue writing in another capacity. Best wishes to you both.

  3. Oh my goodness, you are such an inspiration and are living my dream in Greece… I love reading your blog but the transition and difficulties make sense… maybe you could write a bunch of books to be published posthumously?! 😂

    • Thanks, Maya. I’m glad you’ve found inspiration here. 🙂

  4. I’ve encountered the same issue on the remote island (population of 50!) where I’m living. For me, a book about the islanders-a constant source of stories-is out of the question if I ever want to be welcomed back here. I write about them only in positive, uplifting ways on my blog. I’ve written about the “fishbowl” effect myself-in a small place, anything/anyone out of the ordinary attracts a lot of attention. But I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Keep us informed if your format changes. I for one, want to keep up with you! Cheers!

    • Wow. Population 50 — I did not realize it was that small. We will have to share our forbidden stories in person. 🙂 . I will certainly stay in touch with you Diane.

  5. Laura,

    I’m so happy for you. You’re an inspiration to me because you’ve sought out your truth and never settled, when settling would’ve been much easier. On to the next chapter, my dear friend. Pls let me know if you continue to write/blog. I’ll remain in touch.

    • Thanks, Kim. That’s so sweet. We will stay in touch, of course!

  6. I send women your blog who are considering traveling all the time, you’re an inspiration.

    • Thanks, Paul. I appreciate that.

  7. I started reading when you were in Crete many years now. My love of Greece is why so I am happy and excited that you have landed there. Whatever you decide to do I want to still read your thoughts and experiences. It would be nice to know about your own growth without invading anyone’s privacy. Thank you again for the many years of reading your travel experiences from the Peace Walk to the Yosemite adventure. Lots of love and joy.

    • Thank you Mary Lou for following along with me all these years! If I continue writing elsewhere I will send you an email with an update. I appreciate the support and kind wishes.

  8. Laura, I simply love your storytelling…oh my….you paint such a rich image of what is going on and its touching along with witty and beautiful! BTW, I loved the ancient sheep collars…

    I was first going to say a password might be the best way to go…but perhaps a blog about life in Greece or simply letting it evolve to the storytelling level that you feel. I am quite sure you won’t lose too many…

    I am starting my trip in less than a month, and I can tell you that your writings and following you made me get past the possibility and really put this trip together. 9 countries! My only regret is that stopping to see you isn’t on my agenda. Next time!

    Hugs to you….

    • Thank you, Mickey. I’m so excited for you and just thrilled that I’ve encouraged your adventure in any way. I will likely be in your area early next year so maybe we can meet then. Best wishes on your journey — you’ve got a lot planned — just remember it’s ok to rest while you’re on a long trip — a nap in a foreign country is more fun than a nap at home. Live it up!

  9. Laura,
    You have arrived.The journey now is changing. A new camino. Keep on keeping on woman.
    Bon Camino my friend.

    • Thanks, Gerry. As always, you share your kindness.

  10. I do hope you can manage a way to share some of your new life! Maybe an email list would work. Carry on!

    • Thanks, Douglas. Will keep you informed via FB if I do.

  11. I suspect writing is a given. But maybe the format will change. Maybe there is a book in your future that will take more time (which you have plenty of) to construct than blog posts do.
    Maybe you will continue to blog as well. But fish bowls don’t have room for too many ripples so you’ll need to be at least a little bit careful. Maybe your posts could continue to have a travelling/solo woman theme/attraction and save the incriminating stories for the book! I wish you well.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Rachael. I just discovered your blog. Buen Camino for your fifth Camino – wow!

  12. Sounds lovely! This very practical person is curious how you pay your bills, or perhaps your husband’s income is enough for you both? I seem to recall you live in your husband’s family home so suspect there’s no mortgage. Hope that’s not too nosY!

    • It’s a fair question, Dana. My husband provides for now. We are both professionals at frugal living. We live happily on very little by Western standards.

  13. I’ve been quietly following your journey for a number of years. I once contributed a piece about walking the Camino.

    I think it’s a natural transition for life to change and grow. So, why not let your blog change and grow as well? I think it would be fascinating to learn about life on a Greek Island, as well as Greece itself. I’m betting there’s a plethora of stories that would not intrude on anyone’s privacy.

    I’ve been blogging for nearly 6 years and I find myself learning to just let go when I need to and the words will come when they’re supposed to. A natural transition. It’s all a part of the journey, right?

    • Hi, Patti. 🙂 I appreciate your thoughts especially as a blogger yourself. I think, as you suggested, that letting go and letting the words come when they’re ready may be the best suggestion yet — basically go with the flow. Thanks.

  14. Oh Laura, I am so happy you are both content in your wonderful goldfish bowl. You now live in a beautiful place with a lovely man. Enjoy your private time together as you learn and grow together.Keep up your writing though , on other topics, as you have a gift.I’ll see you again when I next visit. I have enjoyed reading about your exciting journey which led you to Molyvos. Much love and big hugs. Amanda xx

    • Thank you so much, Amanda. Very kind. Yes, see you on your next visit!

      • What I especially enjoyed learning here, Laura, is that you are “delightfully content” and “incredibly satisfied” … the keys that unlock peace and happiness! I’venever really caught the travel bug; and now that I’m retired, I too revel in the simplest of things…in fact I’m heading outside to rub some basil leaves and rosemary in my palms! Blessings and joy!

        • Ooo yes, rosemary is so good too. Thanks, enjoy and looking forward to sharing stories soon.

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