Travelling brings the unexpected – you can’t avoid it and you probably don’t want to (entirely), if you’ve made the decision to leave your comfort zone.
Itea is a port town (pop. ~7,000) literally down the mountain from Delphi, the famous site of the Greek oracle. It is exactly what you would imagine a smallish town by the water in Greece to be: quaint, relaxed, relatively quiet, and to some degree, a little run down with half-finished buildings, peeling paint and weather-worn, cracked wood. Locals (and me now too) spend a lot of time outside, as much as possible while the weather holds: relaxing on balconies (or a rooftop if you are me), seated on a plastic or wooden chair on the sidewalk, lounging at outdoor cafes and restaurants, walking or biking. It is a safe place: seniors walk home at midnight; women leave their purses on ledges and hanging off chairs while dining; doors and windows often remain open and/or unlocked.
Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? And it is, to a certain extent: definitely perfect for me and what I’m doing right now. Restoring and rebuilding after some seriously intense months with my day job; culling from and editing my photos in preparation for my first photography exhibit/show; relearning the art and skill of writing well; and discovering an as yet (for me) unexplored region, culture and people.
You know what wasn’t idyllic? The 3 minor earthquakes that greeted me on arrival (two on the first day, one on the second). As my friend’s cousin said in response: Welcome to Greece! After driving (and, of course, getting lost) 3 hours to get here from Athens on very little sleep, you can imagine my… er, somewhat startled confusion when the very solidly build house of cement, marble and solid wood started shaking. None of the episodes lasted very long, maybe a few seconds at most, but a new sensation and experience for me nevertheless. Luckily, after the very major Japanese earthquake a few years ago I’d read that that country actually experiences a number of minor quakes on a daily basis and residents have understandably just gotten used to them. While Greece is on a “very active seismic activity zone”, this region is particularly prone… I was told this area averages 3,000 per year. Apparently, two years ago, for a period of a month and a half there was a ‘minor’ quake every 10 minutes!
Now, though, I know what to expect and have been given tips about what to do and where to be if a bigger one occurs, and, thanks to the extended Tsakiris family (who have given me a place to stay here), a place and people to reach out to.
So, on to other minor battles: the (usually dead) cockroaches (par for the course here as in many hot countries, I know); the avoidance of a particular restaurant and its middle-aged owner/manager who asked me out; the very stealthy mosquitoes and the ten (10!) resulting bites; and – help! – the Greek alphabet and language.