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Archive for the ‘From Santorini’ Category

A song for your listening pleasure. Something that has been hitting the spot.

Jim Cain by Bill Callahan

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/01JimCain.mp3?attredirects=0

It has been almost two weeks since I last posted a “Boot of Spanish Leather,” as my posts could possible one day be known. I wish this was the case, though that is neither here nor there. Much has happened in these two weeks, and many of these things have indirectly kept me from writing. This is not to say that I don’t have time to blog, because Lord knows I do, and I have even tried on many separate occasions to pull something together, but thats what it was- pulling something together. I have been at a loss of words for these last two weeks, but I am back now- with words in tow.

This is the part of the blog where you say, "Are you kidding, James?"  Then you point at this sunset, courtesty of Ms. Sarah Morrison, and say, "That's what you got yourself into!"  Then you flip the screen off.  You are very angry.

This is the part of the blog where you say, "Are you kidding, James?" Then you point at this sunset, courtesty of Ms. Sarah Morrison, and say, "That's what you should have been writing about!" Then you flip the screen off. You are very angry.

If that last part was not really your style, then here is your part.  You are going to say, "Well James, it seems you gotten yourself into some sort of Greek paradise that involves playing cards next to the sea."  Then you are going to mumble some bad words under your breath and vow to stop reading my blog.  You are apparently also angry.

If that last part was not really your style, then here is your part. You are going to say, "Well James, why don't you write about some sort of Greek paradise that involves playing cards next to the sea?" Then you are going to mumble some bad words under your breath. I will not have an answer for this.

CJ once wrote about how fortunate one is to have people in their life that make saying goodbye a rambling, ongoing task. These last few months of my life, chocked full of rambling, ongoing goodbyes, have truly illustrated this principle to me. One of the most difficult of these goodbyes came when Mike and Sheena (mention number six) left two Wednesdays ago. The goodbye was not rambling at the time, as I think it was about five in the morning and I found myself quite resolute that I would not be able to express to them what I wanted, needed, to say.

The thing about the mornings in Santorini is that there are very few people out until about ten or so, and if you are around before this time you can witness the magic of the morning here. It is quiet. Strangely quiet. Beautifully quiet. It always feels like you are in on this big secret that no one else knows about, and the wind is the only sound you hear, as it whispers, “Shhhhh. This is the real Santorini.” And as I walked away from their cab that morning, I knew I had been in on a secret- having shared such a beautiful place with beautiful people I love. “Shhhhh, James. That is the real Santorini.”

Oia!  All pictures in this Boot are thanks to Sarah Morrison, with the exception of one, which was from Sheena.  This is because, for one, they take better pictures than I do, and, two, I can't currently find my camera cord to upload new pictures.

Oia! All pictures in this Boot are thanks to Sarah Morrison, with the exception of one, which was from Sheena. This is because, for one, they take better pictures than I do, and, two, I can't currently find my camera cord to upload new pictures.

And the goodbye has, indeed, been rambling, because since the day they left I have been searching for words to give to Mike and Sheena about how thankful I am for them- for our time- and in my mind I have rambled on and on, unable to construct a proper goodbye. But, I realize how fortunate I am to have people in my life that make saying such a rambling task.

Quick…highlights of Mike and Sheena’s time in Santorini, featuring Sarah Morrison who quickly became one of our best friends and will stay that way forevermore. Ready, go.

This song came on while I was picking these pictures, and it fit wonderfully. So, enjoy.

Don’t be shy– Cat Stevens

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/10Don%27tBeShy.mp3?attredirects=0
Three people playing music.  Three sets of eyes closed.  This is not good for the people around us.  We have gone to another place.

Three people playing music. Three sets of eyes closed. This is not good for the people around us. We have gone to another place.

Mike, Sheena, and Sarah took a boat to another island.  I used my Olympic swimming ability to beat them there.

Mike, Sheena, and Sarah took a boat to another island. I used my Olympic swimming ability to beat them there.

I may not be able to read Greek, but that doesn't stop me from driving a Greek car.  It just means speed-limits don't apply to me.

I may not be able to read Greek, but that doesn't stop me from driving a Greek car. It just means speed-limits don't apply to me.

We probably didn't move from these spot for hours.  No need.

We probably didn't move from these spots for hours. No need.

They probably didn't move from these spots for hours.  Because they couldn't.

They probably didn't move from these spots for hours. Because they couldn't.

Popular things to do at the bookstore: play backgammon, read books, sit awakwardly on igneous rocks.

Popular things to do at the bookstore: play backgammon, read books, sit awakwardly on igneous rocks.

This is where we said goodbye to Sarah.  We are not as happy as Mike's smile and the ouzo make us seem.

This is where we said goodbye to Sarah. We are not as happy as Mike's smile and the ouzo make us seem.

So, Mike, Sheena, and Sarah have all made it back to the United States safely and are back to their lives, and thus started a new chapter in my time in Oia. For a while, it was only me and Craig (one of the owners and one of the people who helped get me here) in the shop. During this time, I stopped going to the beach as much but did some wonderful exploring of other parts of the island, which often involved eating fresh figs and fresh grapes that I found a long the way. I finished some good reading, enjoyed music, great conversation, and some sunsets with Jana (a teacher in the San Francisco area) who is a friend of one of the owners and stayed with us for a few days, and am learning how to cook in the kitchen here because I never once had to make anything while Mike, Sheena, and Sarah were here. This has proven to be quite an adventure, one that has involved burnt oatmeal, flavorless lentils, and empty gas tanks. I promise I am not this bad at cooking when I can read the labels, but simple vegetarian recipes are welcome.

Walk this way to get to where I live.  If a stranger ever tells you this, don't follow them.  But since you know me and this will acutally lead you to where I live, you can listen.

Walk this way to get to where I live. If a stranger ever tells you this, don't follow them. But since you know me and this will acutally lead you to where I live, you can listen.

Tierra Jolly recently posted an article on Facebook, I believe, from the Washington Post entitled, “Why I Left Teaching Behind,” by Sarah Fine. And while I can’t say I completely agree with all of her reasons for leaving teaching, there were a few things that she wrote that resonated with me, particularly her beginning.

“This will be the first time since I trooped off to kindergarten two decades ago that I will not celebrate the new year in September, and I find that hard to imagine. Somebody else will cover the holes in the classroom’s walls with posters… Somebody else will stand at the door and greet the students — my students — on the first day.

As for me, I plan to travel, write and try not to think too much about what I have left behind.”

I am in the midst of a strange time- a sort of identity crisis, in a way. Sophie once wrote a recommendation for me, and said something along the lines of I introduce myself “as a teacher first, and everything else second,” and that I ate, slept, and breathed teaching. And, in large part, this is true. But now I am in a place where I am not a teacher and Wilson has already started school and the rest of Greater New Orleans schools are about to start or have started school. So, how then do I introduce myself? I feel as if I have left quite a significant piece of myself behind and, no matter how much I love the bookshop, have been unable to fill this hole. Time will tell what is real, though, so stay tuned.

Lesson plans?  Curriculum?  Bobbing for apples!!!

Lesson plans? Curriculum? Bobbing for apples!!!

About a week ago, another person arrived into the shop. His name is Jack, he lives in London, and bears an uncanny resemblance to Jalls (Justin Halls). He, coincidentally, did Teach First, which is the UK equivalent of Teach for America and is still a teacher. His presence at the bookshop has been a breath of fresh air and I feel we have immediately struck a balance in the shop. We’re working on a list of things we MUST do before he leaves which I am sure will be featured in a later post, and hopefully started a healthy routine this morning by waking up early and going swimming. Also, we cleaned, reorganized, and ALPHABETIZED the Greek section over the last few days, and it looks better than I have ever seen it.

Yet again, I find myself wowed by the people that the bookshop brings in, which I believe is not coincidentally largely comprised of teachers. There is something to be said for the way teachers often appreciate the power of learning and growing, regardless of age or place. Knowing this, and knowing how difficult teaching can be, it never surprises me when another incredible person who identifies themselves as a teacher walks through the door to leave their mark on this humble bookshop.

So, all in all, things are going well. I constantly miss the places and people I am not with, and at times it can be overwhelming, but I am challenging myself to love this place while I am here. It is far too easy to love a place like this in retrospect. “Oh, those were the days,” and “Oh, that was the place.” But it is a much greater challenge to engage your own sense of place while you are present and love a place for what it truly is, for the ways it makes you feel, and the things it brings out of you. Tonight, a woman walked into the bookstore and said, “I wish I could turn back time and come to a place like this.” And, if nothing else, I will never have this wish or regret. This is why I am exploring the island, continuing to eat a pita a day, learning to cook, enjoying the light of the night in the bookshop which no picture could ever do justice, and meet new people and, at the very least, just ask, “Where are you from?,” and mean it genuinely.

“Shhhhh. This is the real Santorini.

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I will start with a song to accompany your reading. Upon much reflection, Mike, Sheena (mention number five), and I have decided that any music sounds profoundly better when listened to here. In the first few days of being here every song we heard was followed by an almost obligatory, “Oh my God, that song is incredible. Play it again.” I’m not sure if this is the widely accepted magic of the bookstore, the general beauty of Santorini, coupling music with a new experience, or something I don’t quite understand yet, but something definitely enhances listening to music here. This is a song that I recently discovered and have listened to over and over- partially because I think its very good and it hits the spot for me every time, but also because I want to determine how much of its goodness is legitimate and how much is hearing it here. I have concluded it is legitimately great.

Sleep All Summer (Crooked Fingers cover)- The National and St. Vincent

Download here.

So, time is passing. Of this much I am sure. It has almost been a month since I arrived in Oia, and I would say a month is about time to start feeling like a place is familiar, like it somehow starts to feel like where you live. And, admittedly, I feel this. I was excited to return to the bookshop from Crete, because “it will be nice to be home and settled for a bit.” Home? Interesting.

Make this place my own?  My pleasure.

Make this place my own? My pleasure.

Now, I don’t know if I would go as far as to say this is home. Actually, I would definitely not say this is home. The “Where are you from?” question has already proven tough enough. “Uhhhhh, well…originally from Colorado but I’ve been living in New Orleans.” This answer took a while to formulate and the first time I was asked this question, I had a mini-identity crisis, but thats neither here nor there.

Just when you think you are safe, a vicious Greek monster is lurking in the bushes behind you.

Just when you think you are safe, a vicious Greek monster is lurking in the bushes behind you.

I have found it interesting lately to reflect on how I familiarize myself with a place, or, more specifically, how I make it my own.

Making New Orleans my own was easy. I found places that I considered “mine” (e.g. Nirvana, Theo‘s, Parkway Bakery, Bennachin, various places to eat breakfast, etc.), found people I loved (TFA friends, my roommates, Sophie, basketball friends), had an intense amount of routines that I could fall back on (Nirvana on Sunday, Canal Place Cinemas on Sunday evenings, streetcar to Cafe Envie on Saturdays, basketball games early in the week and on Saturday at KIPP Believe), worked hard, loved the work I did, and loved and was wowed by the place more than I could ever have imagined. This made making it my own easy, a big easy even, and I really considered it my home. It’s still hard to say its not.

Clearly, we feel at home in New Orleans.  Hence this family photo.

Clearly, we feel at home in New Orleans. Hence this family photo.

Claiming Santorini (in a strictly non-colonial way) is going to prove to be very different. Meeting the people is one of the best parts, but Santorini is very transient in its nature, so you can’t necessarily root yourself there. Though, please do hear how thankful I am for the people I have met, because they have all brought something to my journey, and how thankful I am for my time with Mike and Sheena, as they have sort of transitioned me here. Of the people who were here when I arrived, only Mike and Sheena remain, and they leave in less than a week.

Living in a small town, finding your places is pretty easy but quite rewarding. We eat pitas everyday for lunch from one of two places- a gyro place by the bus stop or Polski Locale. Marykay’s (this is not how it is spelled in Greek, but how it is pronounced) is a coffeehouse by day and the only bar and club by night and is located right across the walkway from us. During the day, we have gone there to play backgammon (a newly acquired skill and hobby) and just hang out. At night,
it is a good place to get a drink and talk, and last night there was flamenco music. However, this is a love/hate relationship because I have moved out of the bed I was sleeping in before and have moved into the connected living area. This is good news because I have my own space and I don’t always have to get up when the bookshop opens. This is bad news because I am right below Marykay’s and my door opens up to the drunken chaos that can be be the outside of the bar. So, when I go there, a part of me feels like I am losing a battle that I wage every night trying to go to sleep. Anywho, the other places that we regularly visit and are making our own are the beaches- two in particularly, Ammoudi and Katharos.

This is my new space.  Upgrade!  The mess is not all mine.  Mostly mine, but not all.

This is my new space. Upgrade! The mess is not all mine. Mostly mine, but not all.

But, more than anything, it is the routines and, strangely, the new experiences that are making me feel at home. Generally, I wake up and try to do some work in the bookshop- like one good project everyday that makes the bookstore better. Sometimes it is administrative duties (I have now completed my first successful business trip into the large town of the island where I met with the accountant briefly and deposited money at the bank), but mostly it is projects in the bookshop. It is here that I feel the most comfortable- surrounded by the books. When I rearrange the shelves, I enjoy feeling the bound pages in my hands. I am surrounded by beautiful works of art, characters, and stories that mean so much to so many people. It is here I feel the best. It feels safe and overwhelmingly beautiful. And don’t forget, the beautiful music is playing the whole time.

Regular things that happen at the bookstore: 1) I still at the till; 2) I am on the computer; 3) The cat suckles my shirt...  Trust me, its even weirder in person.

Regular things that happen at the bookstore: 1) I sit at the till; 2) I am on the computer; 3) The cat suckles my shirt... Trust me, its even weirder in person.

Bookshops are fun!  So is stealing other people's hats!

Bookshops are fun! So is stealing other people's hats!

The other thing that brings me comfort has been experiencing and learning new things. I have started playing backgammon, played a few games of chess, found old pieces of marble that I plan to paint on, recorded a song, learned the Greek alphabet and a few Greek words, jumped off ledges into the sea, and created a shelter from the sun on a beach.

This was our pre-robbing a bank photo, somewhere in the vein of Bonnie and Clyde, but following the actaully we realized our error in picking a crashed car as our get-away vehicle.  Poor, poor planning.

This was our pre-robbing a bank photo, somewhere in the vein of Bonnie and Clyde, but following the actaully robbery we realized our error in picking a crashed car as our get-away vehicle. Poor, poor planning.

I made this.  How needs architecture school when you have this raw talent?

I made this. How needs architecture school when you have this raw talent?

If you think this is me jumping off a high ledge, you are incorrect.  This documents my incredible ability to jump out of the water like a dolphin.

If you think this is me jumping off a high ledge, you are incorrect. This documents my incredible ability to jump out of the water like a dolphin.

Be sure to visit our new website, brosonbuoys.com

Be sure to visit our new website, brosonbuoys.com

If you thought this was Mike pushing me off the buoy, you would, once again, be wrong.  This photo documents my rare ability to dance on water.

If you thought this was Mike pushing me off the buoy, you would, once again, be wrong. This photo documents my rare ability to dance on water.

More than anything, I am learning that roots grow. This simple thing has been filling my mind lately. The thing that keeps us in one place, that keeps us grounded, grows. Outward or downward or upward if you are in the swamp, and where they grow is a part of that thing forever, just as much as anything else. I will add to this my list of very important things to remember.

DSC00159

Here is a song brought to me with the incredibly musically-wise Justin Lamb (check out his blog for some original . Its a jam, thats for sure.

Slow Down- Jesse Dee

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/03SlowDown.mp3?attredirects=0

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Today I did my laundry by hand for the first time in my life.  And while I can’t guarantee the cleanliness of these articles of clothing, I can say that I really enjoyed this as a task.  It was both productive and gratifying, which, ideally, all household chores would be.  This is, of course, not the case, but that must be saved for another post.

Proof that I did my laundry...by hand...by myself...and by myself I mean with minimally help from Sheena...but very minimal...so mostly by myself.

Proof that I did my laundry...by hand...by myself...and by myself I mean with minimally help from Sheena...but very minimal...so mostly by myself.

I have always had a deep appreciation of things that just make me and/or other people just stop and force us to be present in the moment we are in.  The two examples I regularly use when talking about such events are church and the ferry.  Generally speaking, church is a time when large groups of people stop the rest of their busy lives and just be in one place doing one thing.  Now, the actual enjoyment people derive from church-going is subjective, and I don’t not claim myself as a religious person in the traditional sense by any measure, but I have come to appreciate the power of church in making us slow our lives down for even just an hour.

The ferry I specifically think of is the one that goes from the end of Canal St. to Algiers Point in New Orleans.  Its no more than ten minutes if I remember correctly, but there is something about being put on a boat with nowhere to go for ten minutes at time and being surrounded by a city in every direction and the Mississippi.  At least it always helped me slow down.

This is NOT the way I remember the ferry to Algiers.  But thanks to Jerry Bruckheimer, no one will ever believe me that is a pleasant experience.  Seriously, the odds of it blowing up are minimal.  I promise.

This is NOT the way I remember the ferry to Algiers. But thanks to Jerry Bruckheimer, no one will ever believe me that is a pleasant experience. Seriously, the odds of it blowing up are minimal. I promise.

This is what doing my laundry, by hand nonetheless, did for me today.  I slowed down.  I felt a little more than I usually let myself feel.  I needed it.  Thank you to the social norms which required me to wash my clothes today.

That being said, I must admit I feel a bit guilty saying I needed time like this.  I am currently in the midst of what many have told me is quite close to their dream job/vacation and I just returned from five days in Crete.  A vacation from a vacation?  It sounds indulgent but its what happened and it felt great.

Crete is an incredibly geographically diverse place.  In the midst of our five days, we saw large cities, small cities, small farms, vineyards, touristy beaches, remote beaches, mountains, gorges, and a vast array of plant life.  Oia is a wonderful place but it is easy to get caught up in the bustle of a place that relies almost solely on tourism to survive.  The population swells so dramatically during tourist season that it is a completely different place.  My taxi driver from when I first arrived said it can grow by up to 10 times, but if you want to see this man’s legitimacy in terms of competence and trustworthiness, you should read the entry from when I first arrived.

While Crete is also very touristy, it provided a change of scenery and a change of pace.  Not to mention, it was probably the last time Mike, Sheena, and I would be able to travel together (Mike and Sheena reference four) away from the bookstore because most of the crowd from the bookstore has now left.

Day 1 was spent traveling from Santorini to Iraklion by ferry and then to Hania (Xania to you Greek speakers, which I am sure I have a loyal following of), where we spent the first night.  Here we walked the streets and found (read: Mike found) an awesome restaurant  where we made friends with the wait staff who brought us an extra bottle of Raki on the house.

Was Crete ready for the team now known as Team Game-Time Sensation (Team GTS)?  Probably not.  But it survived, though not unscathed.

Was Crete ready for the team now known as Team Game-Time Sensation (Team GTS)? Probably not. But it survived, though not unscathed.

The next morning symbolized the start of the best day of our trip.  We caught the first bus from Hania to the Samaria Gorge, which is a remarkable hike of about 16 km (you do the conversion if you are that curious) down a huge gorge and is one of the islands largest tourist attractions.  We missed a huge crowd because we caught the early bus.

The Samaria Gorge.  As Americans, we felt it our duty to try to open a Starbucks here, but the Greeks, integrious people that they are, politely declined.

The Samaria Gorge. As Americans, we felt it our duty to try to open a Starbucks here, but the Greeks, integrious people that they are, politely declined.

Even the water was beautiful.

Even the water was beautiful.

Proof that Mike and Sheena hiked the gorge.  Proof that I did the hike does not currently exist.  You just have to take my word on this one.

Proof that Mike and Sheena hiked the gorge. Proof that I did the hike does not currently exist. You just have to take my word on this one.

Anywho, the hike was perfect and we got to the bottom where we ate some food, jumped in the sea and caught a ferry westward to Paleohora.  Upon arriving at Paleohora we found ourselves a vegetarian restaurant in the middle of town (yes, a vegetarian restaurant) and ate to our heart’s content.  At this point, we were tired but feeling like the day had already been a win, so we decided to be a bit indulgent.  And what is more indulgent that going to find the one cinema in town that just happens to play English-speaking films.  Our expectations were low, as we didn’t know what to expect in terms of venue, language, pricing, etc.

I ordered mango stir fry.  I know...I still don't believe it was real.

I ordered mango stir fry. I know...I still don't believe it was real.

Well, after some wandering, we found it.  Oh, did we ever find it.  It was an open air cinema with stray kittens running all about.  The silence in the movies were filled with the sounds of cicada-like bugs and the wind in the trees around the theater.  Looking up you could see thousands of stars all around.  The movie, to add to the exceptionalness of the evening was Slumdog Millionaire with Greek subtitles.  Life is good, huh?  So good in fact that we found a beach cot on the beach and just slept there, with the sounds of the waves in front of us and the lights of the city behind us.

Most likely, this is an illegal picture of Slumdog Millionaire, and it hardly depicts how beautiful the theater actually was, but at least you've know seen it.

Most likely, this is an illegal picture of Slumdog Millionaire, and it hardly depicts how beautiful the theater actually was, but at least you've know seen it.

The morning after.  Do you see how appealing it was to stay another night?

The morning after. Do you see how appealing it was to stay another night?

Even though the next day started with Mike running around going, “Get up, get up!,” it was a perfect way to wake up.  He was doing this because the current suddenly rose to the place we were sleeping but everything was saved, so no worries.  The previous day and night had been so good that we chose to stick around for the whole next day and night.  Can’t get enough of a good thing, right?

This was a wrong assumption.  While the day was nice and relaxing, when we set up and settled into sleep in the same spot from the night before, we were greeted with a life lesson that sometimes it is good to just let good things be.  The night was just one gigantic wind storm that quickly turned into a sand storm.  Poor Mike only had a sheet, which temperature-wise was fine but the wind was much too violent.  At some stressful point in the night, I took more beach cots and built a wall of resistance against the wind, which helped with sleeping but the sand still found its way everywhere.  When I flossed last night there was still sand in my mouth.

We rose early (surprising, right) and started the track back to Iraklion (fifth largest city in Greece, mind you) where we would catch the ferry the next morning.  I will not spend much time telling you about Iraklion.  I never feel comfortable about criticizing a place, considering people live there and most likely many of them proudly call it home, and especially a place where I spent a total of about 18 hours tops.  My experience was, as I’m sure you have guessed, not the best of our journey.  However, we did find our way to a bowling alley and to the entrance of a little fair.

Greek bowling is serious.  These are our game faces.  And, for the record, I won.  Twice.

Greek bowling is serious. These are our game faces. And, for the record, I won. Twice.

If you can't get into the fair, why not just just dance at the entrance?

If you can't get into the fair, why not just just dance at the entrance?

All in all, an amazing trip.  And lessons learned.  No matter where I am or what I have been doing, its always nice to have something slow you down for a moment- if even just for that moment.  Take time, as they say.

The Books- Take Time

http://7970917082554362344-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/08TakeTime.mp3?attredirects=0&auth=ANoY7crkuRlk29asEkgFZ_3_kRJmkPzm7X23MwSuCejRKBHodg4orOt6ZHt1YvX3LBSZgBseNJpHEQIhckMNU_fGQe1bMce57qqQru1jTEHTsWhBqhi-7BKVSqhW6JPMrky6mI7aFmouQu2dM2IM54FjLdmhI5UyemLtmVXjKQah_PtLGzy_klddr3CjaivchrBnhPA4qepRyDnSb9i16icX-K_I2ZEJLJzojkrC36x1kZbJEDSv1d4%3D

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"When you first arrive in a new city, nothing makes sense. Everythings unknown, virgin... After you've lived here, walked these streets, you'll know them inside out. You'll know these people. Once you've lived here, crossed this street 10, 20, 1000 times... it'll belong to you because you've lived there. That was about to happen to me, but I didn't know it yet." - L'augerge espagnole

"When you first arrive in a new city, nothing makes sense. Everythings unknown, virgin... After you've lived here, walked these streets, you'll know them inside out. You'll know these people. Once you've lived here, crossed this street 10, 20, 1000 times... it'll belong to you because you've lived there. That was about to happen to me, but I didn't know it yet." - L'augerge espagnole

The lesson I am learning is it is important to blog regularly. That avoids what has now happened, which is that I have an incredible amount of things to fill you in on but no idea where to start. The morning after arriving, I quickly became aware that this was an incredibly special place- more so than I ever could have imagined. Everyday has been filled with the richness and beauty that I hoped it would be. I am surrounded by beauty in every direction and the bookstore is full of beautiful people, creations, and art.

Perhaps I should start with a brief tour of the bookstore.

Here is Sheena at the entry to the bookstore.  She is modeling what some tourists do, which is take pictures and peek in without every actually entering.  Good job, Sheena- this is a very accurate depiction.

Here is Sheena at the entry to the bookstore. She is modeling what some tourists do, which is take pictures and peek in without every actually entering. Good job, Sheena- this is a very accurate depiction.

Don't be fooled.  Come night time, this turns into where I sleep.

Don't be fooled. Come night time, this turns into where I sleep.

If you look up in the backroom, you will see Mike and Sheena's bed above it all.  I did not volunteer this bed readily.  They won it in an intense wrestling match with high stakes.  What can I say?  It was 2 vs 1.

If you look up in the backroom, you will see Mike and Sheena's bed above it all. I did not volunteer this bed readily. They won it in an intense wrestling match with high stakes. What can I say? It was 2 vs 1.

These...well, these are the books.  Also, known as the goods.

These...well, these are the books. Also, known as the goods.

Most days are marked with a trip to the beach, falafel in pita for lunch, time spent behind the till talking to tourists and locals, learning the ropes of the bookstore, and sitting on the terrace of the bookstore talking and laughing. Our first week was marked with an incredible 8mm international put on by the bookstore’s very own “Splice girls,” as they became known. It is not without responsibility, though, as learning the ins and outs of a bookstore can be complicated, but is so rewarding to watch it function late into the night and bring so much joy to so many people. This bookstore, as a project and as a location, is something that people truly care about and want to be a part of, and the times we are a part of such things are times to cherish.  The days are full, but not in a way that I have ever experienced before on such a regular basis. They are full in the way that you feel after a perfectly portioned meal with good company- satisfied, not too full, by no means hungry, and reminded that life is good.

This is me behind the till.  This picture also adds to the countries in which I have taken an unflattering picture, which can now be totaled at 10.

This is me behind the till. This picture also adds to the countries in which I have taken an unflattering picture, which can now be totaled at 10.

I believe a large part of the specialness of traveling and particularly of this place is the people. I am fortunate to have Mike and Sheena with me (Mike and Sheena reference number 3). Our time together is something I know I will cherish dearly for the rest of my life and they graciously let me be a third wheel regularly. I have met and played music with people from Germany who are biking to India and spend their days as statues in the main square of Oia. Ani and Justine from Montreal came in and read a whole book in French aloud with Joni Mitchell in the background. Ajay and I play cribbage. Sarah and Madeleine make incredible dinners every night. I sat on the terrace with two eleven year old Greek girls who made an art project for the bookstore, where we listened to pop music and they taught me the Greek alphabet.  Chris and Maria, who live in San Francisco and Cyprus, respectively, were part of the group of people who founded the bookstore, are both teachers, and have a love for this place they have created that inspires me to create things of my own. Not to mention, in the midst of writing this very blog entry, Kira Orange-Jones, who is the Executive Director of Teach for America in New Orleans, just walked into the bookshop. I tell you, there is something about this place. Not even the island so much as the bookshop itself. More on that as I experience it more.

As Sheena and I prove here, it is hard not to take a picture of everything.  Once again, nice job Sheena on depicting my points.

As Sheena and I prove here, it is hard not to take a picture of everything. Once again, nice job Sheena on depicting my points.

There is still a lot to explore and learn.  I will have much more to read as time passes.  Tomorrow, Mike, Sheena, and I are heading to Crete for a few days to hike in the mountains, explore a new place, and experience another part of Greece.  Until then.

I must say, the road ahead is looking good.

I must say, the road ahead is looking good.

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unfortunately

There is this children’s book called “Fortunately, Unfortunately.” It is about the main character Ned’s adventure as he tries to get to a surprise party thousand of miles away.  It tells the story by showing how his luck changes from good to bad over and over as he has goes from adventure to adventure.  Some volunteers once read it to my class in New Orleans.  Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the story:

“Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.  Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.

Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.  Unfortunately, the motor exploded.

Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.  Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.”

Well, I have arrived in Santorini after a situation very much reminiscent of Ned’s story.  However, it will not suffice to just tell the story this way, as the hours and location must also be included.  It is important for you to know, before reading this, that this trip should have taken twenty total hours from Denver to Santorini.

Hour: 0

Location: Denver, CO

Local Time: 5:00 am

I am dropped off at the airport by my parents where I will begin my journey.

Fortunately, I am on time and the flight will leave on time.

Unfortunately, the woman at the ticketing counter won’t check my bags straight through so I will have to get them in New York after a layover in Charlotte and recheck them and myself.

Hour: 8

Location: In the air, outside of New York, New York

Local time: 3:00 pm

Fortunately, the plane left from Charlotte on time.

Unfortunately, the pilot says we are going to have circle around the airport for up to thirty minutes to avoid the thunder storms (Remember I have to recheck my bags when I land and I only have two and a half hours to do so).

Fortunately, we have been given the okay to land.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), on the descent the pilot decides that is not a good idea and quickly pulls up.  We circle out into the ocean for a while to turn around.

Fortunately, on the next good around the pilot gets us touched down and a moment later the lightening really starts.

Hour: 9

Location: JFK airport

Local time: 4:00 pm

Fortunately, we landed and are inside safely.

Unfortuantely, because of the thunder they are unable to get our luggage inside so I am just waiting.

It is important to note at this time that my flight leaves at 5:45 from JFK and i HAVE to be checked in with AirBerlin at least one hour before the flight.  It’s gonna be close…

Local time: 4:15 pm

Fortunately, the bags finally arrived.

Unfortunately, AirBerlin is located in the next terminal over so I have to catch a tram and…well…run.

Local: 4:40 pm

Forunately, I arrive and check in.

I made it.  There is no unfortunately.

Hour: 10

Location: Gate at JFK

Local time: 5:45 pm

Fortunately, I have made it and am ready to go.

Unfortuantely, the flight has been delayed because the incoming plane had to land in Hartford due the thunder storms.

Hour: 16

Location: At the gate on AirBerlin flight 3551 to Dusseldorf

Local time: 11:15 pm

Fortuantely, we are finally on the plane.

Unfortunately, it was after an epic and mysterious layover where the plane was constantly leaving “momentarily” and it was about to arrive “momentarily” and they were about to board “momentarily.”

Fortunately, I understand airplane talk and know that “momentarily” means we don’t even know what time is let alone when this “plane” will get here.  I put quotes around plane because there were moments when I doubted its existance.

Hour: 17

Location: JFK runway and the air right above it

Local time: 12:45 am

Forunately, we finally take off.

Unfortunately, it is after sitting on the “densely trafficked” runway for one and a half hours

Hour: 24

Location: Dusseldorf Airport (the number one airport in Germany, mind you)

Local time: 1:40 pm

Fortunately, I have arrived in Europe and am happy to be here.

Unfortunately, I have missed my connecting flight to Zurich and, consequently, the connecting flight to Santorini- the only flight from Zurich to Santorini for a week.

Hour: 25

Location: Ticketing booth in Düsseldorf airport

Local time: 2:15 pm

Fortunately, the have booked another flight for me to Santorini leaving from Düsseldorf!!!

Unfortunately, it left five minutes ago.

Fortunately, they promise to get me on the next flight.

Unfortunately, the next flight to Santorini is not for two days and all the other flights to Santorini around the continent were booked.

Fortunately, they find a flight to Thessaloniki, Greece for the next morning at 5:50 am, with a connecting flight to Santorini later that day at 8 pm.  Long layover, but I agree nontheless.  Maybe I can explore the city or something.

Hour: 26

Location: Düsseldorf airport’s baggage claim

Local time: 3:30 pm

Unfortunately, they lost my bag.

There is no fortunately.  I will go on to sit for two more hours only for them to tell me it won’t turn up and they will send it Santorini when it is found.

Hour: 29

Location: AirBerlin check- in

Local time: 6:15 pm

Fortunately, they have put me in a ridiculously nice hotel for free.

Here is the Maritim Hotel in Dusseldorf.  Fancy.  Too bad I didn't bring my fancy pants.  I wrote old jeans and a hoodie.  Everyone else wore suits.  Next time I get laid over in Dusseldorf I am going to bring a suit and have a working knowledge of German.

Here is the Maritim Hotel in Dusseldorf. Fancy. Too bad I didn't bring my fancy pants. I wrote old jeans and a hoodie. Everyone else wore suits. Next time I get laid over in Dusseldorf I am going to bring a suit and have a working knowledge of German.

Also, fortunately, AirBerlin has this thing called “Late Night Check-in” as opposed to me having to get up even earlier.

Also, fortunately, I just happened to check since I am back at the airport and THEY FOUND MY BAG!!!!  Good news. The best news I’ve had in a while.

Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea and there are four lines to choose from.  Each line is about 75 yards long.

Fortunately, it seems I picked the fastest lane.

Unfortunately, I was wrong about that.  My line is the slowest.

Hour: 32

Location: Late Night Check-in line

Local time: 9:15 pm

Fortunately, I finally get my late night bags checked-in.

Unfortunately, people started leaving my line and I ended up being literally the LAST person to get to check my bag in.  The last person of hundreds and hundreds.

Hour: 44

Location: Thessolaniki airport

Local time: 10:00

For those of you who don't know what the Greek flag looks like, this is a version Sophie made for a cake she made.  According to my own experimentation, Sophie's version is much more delicious than the real Greek flag.

For those of you who don't know what the Greek flag looks like, this is a version Sophie made for a cake she made. According to my own experimentation, Sophie's version is much more delicious than the real Greek flag.

Fortunately, everything went well as far as leaving Düsseldorf.  I have arrived in Greece.

Unfortunately, they won’t let me check in for my next flight early.

Fortunately, getting into the town will be really easy.

Unfortunately, my carry-ons are really heavy and it is not going to be easy getting around with them

Hour: 52

Location: Thessaloniki airpot

Local time: 6:00

Fortunately, Thessaloniki was a cool place and there was a nice place called the “White Tower” which was pretty much a museum and had floor after floor of Thessaloniki history and culture.

The tower was neither white nor towering, but I can't complain.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The tower was neither white nor towering, but I can't complain. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Unfortunately, the bags were more cumbersome than I had imagined.

Forunately, I will be checking in to finally get to Santorini.

Unfortunately, there is a line comparable to the one for the late-night check-in in Düsseldorf.  Even more unfortunately is the fact that there is no “line” to this line.  It is just people pushing and fighting to get to the front.

Fortunately, I make my way to the front pretty quickly and get checked in.  I can almost taste it.

Hour: 53

Location: Gate at Thessaloniki airport

Local time: 7:30 pm

Fortunately, they are supposed to start boarding the plane any moment, or should I say “momentarily.”

Unfortunately, I can’t find my boarding pass and am nearing a freak out.

Fortunately, I get one again pretty quickly.

Then they delayed the flight and moved the gate.  No fortunately or unfortunately anymore.  This shit is out of control.

Hour: 55

Location: Santorini aiport

Local time: 10:10

Fortunately, I have arrived in Santorini.

Unfortunately, it was after a delay in Thessaloniki and us sitting on the runway for about an hour on what I can only assume is definitely not a “heavily trafficked” runway.

Hour: 56

Location: Ammoudi, Santorini, Greece

Fortunately, I got a taxi for what turned out to be a pretty good price.

Unfortunately, the driver assured me he knew where the bookstore was and dropped me off at the bottom of the a mountain.  After asking a local shop owner where the store is, I find out it is at the top of this mountain.  The only way up is to walk up these epic stairs.  They are kindly numbered.  There are about 250 of them.  Then I have to walk through Oia, or the town at the top of the hill.  You must understand that I had to do this with all my luggage.  I was a sweaty mess.  Pouring sweat.

Hour: 57

Location: Atlantis Book store

Local time: 11:30 pm

I have arrived.  Finally.

I must say it was worth it.  This place is even more beautiful than I could even have imagined.  The people at the bookstore are very nice and tonight there is going to be a 8mm Film Festival put on by some of the people from the bookstore.  I will write more about Santorini and the bookstore and the glory that is both of those things, but let me give you an idea.  I am sitting on the top of our terrace overlooking the Aegan Sea.  Mike (mention number two of Mike) is beside me reading Bob Dylan’s autobiography and Sheena was sunbathing but now went to go walk the town.  This is the life.

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