Monday, 15 June 2015

Coming Home at Last

Once upon a time, there was a curious girl. A girl who wanted to see the whole world by the age of thirty and be her own mistress.

This girl was me, the twenty-three years old version of me who lived in the moment and dreamt of nothing but traveling the world from one end to the other. And yes, to make a living as a writer doing so.

In this aspect little has changed. I still long to see the world and be part of it. I still want to explore all parts of the world but at the same time, I have come to understand the importance of appreciating the places that move me and where I feel at home.

One of the few countries to stir these strong feelings within me was Greece, and in particular the Cyclades island of Ios.

I was only 23 years old when I first sailed into the small port town of Ios. I immediately sensed that I was coming home, this island called to me; her unique charm with the light breeze that greeted me by bringing the fragrant of the isles to me for the very first time.

I was home and I knew it. 

My first job was at the Indian restaurant in the port. I had never waitressed before and I was terrible at it. The hours were long and the appropriators sometimes harsh to a novice waitress. I lived in a house in the port, a house with a gate, low white brick fence and a garden with wild vegetation growing freely.

I lived with my friend Eva and an Australian we met on the ferry out to Ios. Ios was chosen for the mere sake that it was suggested to us. And it was a good suggestion.

I fell in love with the island immediately. We bonded and I felt as if I was the luckiest girl on the planet because I was staying for the whole summer. 

I had walked into a beautiful dream and made it my reality. My daily life consisted of quiet and sometimes jamming days on the magnificent beaches that inhabit the shores of Ios. 

After a month, my friend Eva left for Cuba but I stayed behind. I knew I had found a place where I belonged and I couldn't leave this magical world that was now mine to make my own.

For most of the season, I worked in a nightclub on the main road that was called Star and worked there with the best co-workers a girl can ask for.

I returned the next year for another season and to my surprise that second season was even better. A heaven on earth where I blossomed. 

I returned in 2006 for a holiday and as was to expected I struggled to leave after only two weeks. I was home and I couldn't imagine leaving. I stayed an extra day that year and yet it was excruciatingly hard to leave. So hard my heart quenched as I watched it disappear into the horizon. 

At the time I lived in London so it wasn't like I was returning to a hellhole of any kind. It was just so hard to say goodbye to where my heart felt at home.

That was also the year I fell in love with the love of my life. He was already in my heart, and there were times I wished he was there with me.

Twelve years later, this dream is finally coming true. The love of my life goes to Ios with me tomorrow night and my heart is bursting with excitement.

But first, yes first, we came to an island of which I had heard many good things, Folegandros, a mere half an hour - if that - on the ferry from Ios. 

This is his first island, the island with which he has fallen in love and I know it will always be his first love of all the Greek islands. He now understands how it was possible for me to stay in the island that immediately inhabited my heart for three months and more without ever feeling the slightest urge to return to the outside world.

Greece is truly the temptress of Europe. 
The land that draws us to her shores through reputation and pure visual stimulation. 

The beaches are as beautiful and actually far more beautiful than they look on the pictures. The villages and the incense-scent that fills the streets delights the senses. 

To be here with my husband, the love of my life, and see him fall in love with Folegandros fills my heart with joy. I know now that we will return to Greece over and over in the years to come. 

The spell has been cast and he too is now its avid lover.

I, the long lost lover of the isles, simply wonder how I could ever stay away for so long. 

Greece is a place of magic, a place where magic lives in the air. 

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