The start of a beautiful friendship

Pigi, Mani

No more views like this for a while – we’re outta here…

Last night I witnessed the power of dreams. On the eve of my Greek exit I spent the wee hours in semi-slumber rehearsing possible panic scenarios from the next day of the rest of my life. Because today is the final leg in a year long experiment in living and breathing the life Hellenic.

Tomorrow we will be a family in London for the first time -with all the associated logistical headaches of housing, work schedules, baby etc. But instead of jittering like a stress bunny, my anxiety dreams seem to have worked. A slightly incongruent sense of calm pervades. Philosophical is my state of mind.

According to Henry Miller, “all growth is a leap in the dark”, and this neatly summarises my experience since touching down in Kalamata almost a year ago to the day. Yes it’s still all Greek to me, but now I feel the once impenetrable aspects of the culture – language, politics, religion, family – have yielded a layer or two of their mystery.

At times I’ve cursed this country; the suffocating heat, the medieval bureaucracy, the lack of health and safety and the over-riding contempt for the rule of law. But I’ve learnt to accept these “character traits” in the same way we do with loved ones. Leaving Greece now feels like saying goodbye to a new best friend.

Having spent time in Athens and the Mani, I’ve sampled the briefest glimpses of a country that offers awe, enchantment, shock and delight in equal measure. And as I write my adieu – gentle waves lapping at my feet -it dawns on me that my time here has been spent planting seeds – seeds of curiosity and seeds of faith – in preparation for a return, to further reap the joy of this alluring, extraordinary land.