Since getting back from Morocco I’ve been working almost flat-out on the two-year mega-drawing. Now measuring an unhealthy six metres by 60cm, it’s now so big I can’t even roll it all out in my old room without a metre or so reaching out into the hallway. When it’s finished, I’ve estimated the total length at somewhere between eight and nine metres… and that’s provided I don’t meet any more people between now and then! At any rate, any chance of it ever being decorative wall art is now long gone. Unless, of course, somebody can point me towards an affordable house with walls over eight metres in length.
Don’t all jump up at once.
As such, I’ve been low on tales to tell. Not that I haven’t had my hands full, but the last week has been a little thin on adventures. And rightly so, perhaps, after almost an entire year of nonstop hijinks from Jordan to Gibraltar. But my family have decided that, after six years’ absence, we could do with a holiday together, so here I am, back at the grind once again in a rather lovely apartment in Dioni, a countryside setup not too far from the coast in eastern Attica, Greece.
I don’t tend to go in for conventional holidays, but since it’s been six years and more since our last family holiday, and given that my small family aren’t all the rough-it backpacker type, I feel like I can’t really complain about a week of lazy pool-lounging and crystal water snorkeling. It’s a good life, but it makes for extremely insufferable reading, because in truth, nobody likes reading about how much fun someone else is having, not really. So I’ll be applying just as much of the honesty brush as I always do.
The first few days reminded me why it is that we haven’t had a family holiday in six years; that is, arguments, arguments, arguments. Just navigating our way to our apartment – a challenge in itself, familiar to anyone who’s ever gone off-road in Greece – has a two in three chance of turning into a simmering verbal firefight. All sorted by the time we get to a coffee shop, as family disputes usually are, but it puts a damper on the day.
Unlike the rest of my family, I can’t even fully appreciate coffee shops as I’m neither a fan of coffee nor of tea, and since fizzy drinks never do me much good, I’m rather stuck for options. The waitress was cute, though. I just wish I spoke a word of Greek. Watching my entire family resort apologetically to English after an entire year juggling four languages is more than just frustrating. It’s soul-destroying.
I have this curious habit of retracing my steps. Something brought me back to Santillana del Mar three times, and the same something sent me back to Olvera in search of my former classmates from my childhood. This, too, is walking in the footsteps of my childhood, for it was Nea Makri, not Spain, that was my first trip abroad, some twelve years ago (discounting Calais). Greece has changed a fair amount since then. Back in 2004 it was all shiny and new and brushed up for the Olympics. Between them and now more than half of the cafes, restaurants and shops I remember visiting have shut down. The little kiosk selling banana-shaped ice creams in Nea Makri is miraculously still in operation, as is the stationary shop across the road manned by the ginger-haired Greek lady and her haunting-eyes daughter, but these are islands: the effects crisis are obvious. If going to some parts of Spain is like stepping back in time ten years, Greece feels all of twenty.
The family have gone for another coffee shop jaunt. I passed it over in favour of a morning’s swimming and research (I have to justify all of this lounging about somehow). This evening we might go in search of sunset over the Temple of Poseidon, though with the Perseid meteor shower peaking tomorrow, I might try to convince my parents to postpon that little adventure until tomorrow. I think that would be rather unforgettable.