Magic Times 50

Trip Start Jul 22, 2013
Trip End Sep 14, 2013

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Flag of Greece  , Peloponnese,
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Monemvasia is where I start losing the ability to put this all into words. First there is the actual place.  The castle itself.  Monemvasia is basically a massive rock connected to the mainland by a small two-lane road with a sidewalk.  It was founded in the 500s and from there went through a series of different invasions and occupations and it remained a place of some importance, particularly in the Byzantine Empire, until the late 1700s when it faded into obscurity.  I think.  I have a terrible brain for history, my sister is the historian in the family, but this place is so fabulous you should do your own reading on it and not listen to me anyway.  

The modern era of Monemvasia started around 50 years ago when Andreas' aunt and her then boyfriend, now husband, started working on what is called the Carter house as architects.  This I remember because I loved that house.  One thing led to another (a fascinating story that we were lucky enough to hear them tell first hand) and their life’s work turned into rebuilding Monemvasia. There are (again, I think) 100 or so small vacation houses inside the castle, a handful of full time residents, a small hostel and small hotel.  All were built in such a way as to retain as much of the authenticity of the old town as possible. 

Now that you have an idea as to what I was about to walk into, circle back to the end of a long and funny bus ride south as we pull up to the gates of this castle, disembark and walk into this magical place.  We made our way up through the cobblestone main drag to the hotel which was more like a funny little hobbit town with rooms stacked all over each other.  As we had the place almost exclusively to ourselves, it became our little village.  It was incredible… but I won’t lie and say there weren’t some aspects of it that challenged me.  I have gotten a little spoiled over the years, a little set in how I like things if you will, and yes, I can be wildly sociable but I have always needed my own little space to run back to and recharge.  I think it is a product of being a farm kid where we had lots of wide-open space to always call our own and plenty of room to run off and romp when the mood struck us.  Anyways, I was sharing a room with two wonderful, special guys but you know, special or not, it was really sharing.  For me at least.  They had to walk through my section of the room to get to theirs.  The bathroom was dark and small.  Bathroom time is very important to me.  It is my downtime.  I am in the habit of taking long showers where I do most of my thinking. Despite the fact that I still haven’t learned to ever make my hair look quite brushed, I relish in covering myself with a ridiculous number of girly lotions and potions and perfuming myself to some working semblance of feminity.  I like being a girl and this wasn’t going to be an option. I am also a light sleeper who therefore normally sleeps with a white noise machine (alllllll my nerd is coming out now) and as much as I loved our little village I woke up at any little noise in the morning and so slept about 4 hours a night for the duration.  

…I want to stop here and say one thing.  The rules I made for myself when I decided to do this were that I would take no more than one hour a locale, that I would write totally stream of consciousness, that I would allow for no editing (as I type or after the fact) and that I would be totally truthful.  All of that is to say that I don’t relish in sharing my inability to digest Feta or to live communally.  I really don’t.  These are my crazy human things.  I don’t want you to know about them.  Furthermore, the inclusion of these things in this journal only reflects my adherence to the rules as stated previously and not to any lack of gratefulness or appreciation or sheer awe over the incredible, once in a lifetime trip that this was. What is reflects is my lunacy, but that is what travel does.  It shakes those things up.  It breaks them lose.  So yes, sometimes I have and will focus on the bits that were a challenge but I want to be very clear that it is not because there is more bad than good and, god knows, not because I have anything to complain about, but because those are the spots where you learn something about yourself.  Where you see the things you want to change (get over the communal thing) and the things are just you (under no circumstances will I ever eat that much dairy again)…

Okay, again now, circling back to what actually matters. Yes, I was tired and hungover and not put together in the least and didn’t have all the quiet time I needed and I had a Feta baby and it was all very flustering and disarming as flustering and disarming things go and so, not just regardless of all of the aforementioned, but, likely in large part because it, the next few days were, through my happy, sleepy haze, totally, again, magical. Diving off the rocky portello into the ocean for sunrise and a special midnight swim. Walking up to the old city at the top of the rock and having the chance to tour the inside of Monemvasia’s Agia Sofia.  Eating sea urchins right out of the ocean caught by this very cool totally feral guy whose team I want to be on in the event of any sort of apocalyptic scenario.  Laughing with a great group.  Some of the best deep diving conversations I have had in I can’t even remember how long.  Moonlight guitar sing alongs. Star gazing.  An hysterical, joyful, love filled (and too rowdy for some restaurant owners) 50th birthday dinner to end all dinners.  A trip to a picture perfect Greek beach in picture perfect Greek fashion (by which I of course mean seemingly disastrous at points but that worked out beautifully in the end).  Learning to swim while holding a Vergina.  All of this organized, orchestrated and covered by my amazing friend to share his world with us and give us the time of our lives during HIS birthday celebration.  Who does that?

Even if I could properly describe every aspect of every wonderful fun thing or experience that was shared I couldn’t possibly do it justice. This was one of the most wild places I have ever been full of its own magic but what made it all the more astonishing, what really blew me out of the water, was the incredible group of people that had gathered for this celebration.  As I said before, knowing Andreas and the friends we have in common, I knew it was going to be a pretty spectacular showing, but this party was brimming over with extraordinary people.  Interesting, fun, balanced people.  People who have done the work, who connect, who are passionate about what they do, who they are, the lives they want to live and the footprints they want to make.  To making a real difference in the world around them.  People who are serious about digging down to real connection and purpose and, most importantly to me, who still have a sense of humour about life and themselves. I mean yes, I am on this quest for self-actualization and all of that business but the second I stop being able to laugh at myself just put me down!  What I saw in this group in terms of sense of purpose, business partnerships, business leadership, friendships and romantic partnerships, AND balancing all of these things, resonated deeply because it spoke to the core of my value system; to the things that I want, the things that I truly value, a lot of the things that I changed my life to go searching for. It was one of those curve balls that life throws at you; I ran away to Europe because I felt I needed some solitude and space to figure out next steps and here I was, not just learning so many incredible lessons about connection, but, even better, making some wonderful new ones… a few of whom are already aware of the fact that they are now stuck with me for life… you know who you are if you are reading this and there will be wine and a little salad and chicken breast the second I land back in Toronto…  

And look at that.  This is my first journal entry where I am about to run out of time because I found it so hard to try and put into words and I still feel like I did the Vergina tour not even half of the justice it deserved!  I guess all I can say is that I am brimming over with excitement and love and gratitude… and much thanks to a most incredible host and friend for such an amazing time.  My proverbial cup runneth over.
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