House Hunting, Part I

No, I am not moving.  Ever.  It’s not my thing.  However, for someone who has no plans of moving, I’ve been doing an awful lot of looking for houses.

 

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Our ferry to the island.  It’s a big boat!

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Two years ago we packed up the whole lot of us and headed to Greece to visit family and to celebrate my oldest son’s high school graduation and 18th birthday.  I’ll have you know that I managed to squeeze supplies for five people into one suitcase and a couple of carry-ons.  I’ve learned my lesson, there was no room for souvenirs!!  Not that this stopped me.

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It’s amazing how many cars they can pack in.  It’s also a little daunting driving on because the crew is yelling directions in Greek and I know just enough to get me into trouble!  But I made it!

Ours plans included a couple of stops at other destinations, because why not if we’re already somewhere nearby, right?  One stop was very particular, though.  I wanted to go back to the island my mother was from, Lesvos.  It’s a beautiful place and I hadn’t been there since 1990 when my mom and I went with my Thea (Aunt) to visit my Yiayia (grandma).

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The littlest boy enjoying the view.

At that time my Yiayia still lived on the island in the house my mom grew up in.  Running water was limited.  The only bathroom had been added on to the house much later.  The toilet would only flush if you dumped a bucket of water in it (which was why the bucket was next to it), and I don’t think the shower worked because I know I took a bath outside using water heated in an old iron cauldron over a fire.  The old toilet was still in the corner of the back yard.  You know, the hole in the ground.  At least there was some electricity, enough for the refrigerator but don’t get any crazy ideas about there being AC.

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There was a band and a dance group that happened to be on board.  They started a party on the rear deck.  This was at midnight because sleep is so overrated.  So I joined them!  My oldest son struck up a conversation with a couple of others there and didn’t join us until 3 a.m.

My Yiayia passed away only a couple of years later.  The house was eventually sold.  Other than the time my mom went to help clean up in the house, none of us had returned.  It was time.  I wanted to go back so that my boys could see the place their Yiayia grew up, so that they could hear her stories about the schools she went to, the towns and churches she visited.  And we also went looking for the old house.

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Street view not too far from my Yiayia’s house.

My mom brought us to the junction on the main street that was close to the house and then asked if I still knew where to go.  Though I had only been there twice at an age that I could really have any memories (the last time being 28 years ago!), I still knew exactly where to head.  We walked up the steep road, took a short left, and walked up another steep stretch.  Left again, a couple of doors in the wall down and there it was.  Yiayia’s house.  But also, now someone else’s house.

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This was a few streets over from my Yiayia’s house.  It was flanked by modern construction on both sides.  A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck almost exactly a year later.  I would be surprised if this old home survived.

The wall stretches down the street and hides the yards and fronts of houses along it.  So we could only see a small part of the upstairs of the house that is visible above the wall.  But still, there was enough to get a feel.  The boys, however, were not as moved by the whole experience as I know my mom and I were.  Darned kids.

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Near the castle of Mithimna overlooking the Aegean Sea.

I wouldn’t mind returning to the island.  It’s a long ferry ride and it’s a little terrifying getting yelled at by the guys directing the vehicles into the ship’s hold (but I still did it!).  However, if you want the BEST ouzo and the BEST octopus, this is the place to be!  This is the place where I fell in love with souvlaki and the deafening sound of cicadas, one of the places that inspired me to be a gardener, and a place I highly recommend for anyone else to visit.  Even if you’re not hunting for a house.

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There is no blue like Aegean Sea blue.

 

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