It’s 5 am and T drops me off at the port on the way to start his shift with the Hellenic Coast Guard. My espresso sloshes in its bright red take away cup as I try to balance my bag in one arm, and the coffee in the other.
The skies are beginning their day, and the ocean is endless and vast...I feel the most at home in ports and on ships. My duffel at my feet, I take my favorite spot on the ship's balcony and stare out into the sea. Here, fear, pain, and anguish do not exist. My soul feels weightless against the ocean which beckons me, like a lover and friend, to dive in on this journey together again. As we do every summer, year after year, for half a lifetime.
Greece has changed and seen many hardships in the past six years. It has been beaten to the ground, exploited and sold for its beauty, all while its people barely survive off of unlivable pensions and salaries. It has seen the worst economic crisis in Europe, leaving Greeks on the streets and educated youth unable to progress, while the rest of the world watches from afar. But the thing with Greece is that she fights. And amongst it all, she is still beautiful.
When you feel something with your entire soul, you see love and beauty in the simplicity of everything. In an alleyway corner, a quiet doorway, the way the wind breezes through the flowers. Upon being dropped off at the Palio Limani (Old Harbor) at 10 am by water taxi, the island is already buzzing. The little white-washed church is the first thing that greets me, as I begin my walk from the port to the hotel, and I ran my fingertips along its rough, worn walls and smile. Yes Ellada mou, you are still the most breathtaking sight. You are struggling and in pain, but your beauty is unchanged.
The girls I'm meeting are still asleep, and now it is up to me and my duffel to navigate the uphill alleys towards mojitos, and paradise.