‘We have a normal. As you move outside of your comfort zone,
what was once the unknown and frightening, becomes your new normal.’
-- Robin Sharma
|Ice cream for lunch - a new normal in Greece.|
Today we ate ice cream for lunch.
With the Mediterranean sun shining and Grecian temperatures climbing, it seemed the thing to do.
It wasn’t the first time, as we’d done the same thing two days ago. . .and a couple weeks ago. Giving in to the temptation of this frozen delight is really beginning to be a noontime normal. What I find interesting is how ab-normal it would have seemed back in our lives in the U.S.
Normal has become an operative word in our ex pat lives. We seem to have two standards of normal, the old one and the new one. Since last July when we made the decision to move from our Pacific Northwest home to Greece as full-time ex pats, we’ve had days there and here in which nothing seemed normal and other days when things were remarkably normal.
One thing we’ve learned in the last year is that nothing can turn the context of normal upside down faster than moving to a new country and adapting to its lifestyle and culture.
Normal - conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.
|Greece - a normal scene|
The mere fact I’ve given so much thought to normal and am now writing about it, isn’t normal by my old behaviors. But with more time to think about such things these days, ponderings such as this seems absolutely normal. What I am most surprised about is how quickly we human beings can adapt to new environments. And that seems to be a key to whether or not ex pat life agrees with you or not.
I've read any number of articles about why ex pats return to their home countries. Bottom line seems to be: they wanted the normal they once knew. The challenge of a new language, new culture, new environment was too much for them. With only nine months of full-time ex pat life under our belts, we are still in the infancy of this adventure; so in our case, bring on the new normal!
Normal is as Normal Does?
On Sunday we went on an outing back into the mountains, an area we'd never explored before. We found four new villages that will require return visits for further exploration. To get to them though, we traveled on roads that once seemed frighteningly narrow and winding. These days those once-unnerving roads seemed quite normal. A new normal to be sure, but normal all the same.
|You wanted to go where?|
The photo above, taken last week during a ‘normal’ trip to the grocery store, illustrates an entertaining new normal for us. Old normal for us was frustrating bumper-to-bumper traffic jams on multi-lane roads that brought cars to a standstill. In this world’s ‘new normal’ it just might be a cow that stops us in our tracks!
Whether traveling roads, shopping or cooking, there is usually something that occurs or is required that gives a moment of pause and we have to think a bit harder and do things a bit differently but that’s why we came here. What amazes us is how quickly so many of these ‘foreign’ things have started feeling routine and normal.
|Agios Nikolaos on a June evening|
As those of you’ve who’ve been with us awhile know, this will be our first full summer here. We’ve had brief samples of both June and July but never have experienced a full three-month run of summer.
“Is this normal?” asked our recent guests a couple weeks ago, when they made their way around tables that filled the village’s main street. “They tell us that the crowds will get bigger in August,” we replied, but whether they are normal size summer crowds we have no idea. Ask us again next year.
|Stoupa beach on a June morning|
We had a storm hit this week that brought high wind and heavy rain for a couple of days to most of Greece, including our area. The road between Athens and Corinth was flooded and closed for a short time, and ‘nornally’ dry river beds were filled with gushing water.
“Not normal, for this time of year,” long-timers told us. We’ve spent three springtimes here and haven’t seen rain like we had this June, but whether it is normal or not, we couldn’t tell you for sure.
|Cloudy skies in June - normal or not|
Two weeks ago we woke one morning to find our water tanks bone dry. Not a drop of water to be had out of any tap in the house. (Of course, we had houseguests at the time. So the water truck was summoned and tanks of water delivered to return us back to normal.)
Our water supply comes to us from ‘the Municipality’ (an entity we have yet to clearly understand) and when we reported our drought they seemed surprised at our situation. The locals tell us that’s because we ‘normally’ don’t run out of water until in August, when the reservoirs are 'normally' pumped dry or the water diverted to the tourist-filled villages along the sea.
|Pantazi Beach - near our home|
One new normal for us is the lack of travel plans for summer getaways. Our startled friends say, “But you ‘normally’ go somewhere!” We’ve never before lived in a place as spectacularly beautiful as we do now, so we’ve decided to join those sun-seeking tourists arriving each week in the villages, and enjoy this place we call home. Perhaps it will become a new normal for our summers.
|Mesimeri spent on our deck|
Our staycation here has us completing our chores and errands before the clock strikes 12 each day which allows us to luxuriate in a favorite new normal: similar to the Spanish culture’s siesta, we have in Greece mesimeri which means midday and generally refers to the time between 2 – 5 p.m. but also means ‘quiet time’.
|Scenes of the village where we run our errands|
This guilt-free quiet time is ‘normally’ spent resting, napping, reading and catching up on correspondence. Then it is time to think about food and drink; sometimes consumed at home and other times at one of the many tavernas, cafes and restaurants that come to life in the summer. Eating and drinking out with regularity is another new normal that we’ve adapted to quite well.
|Dinner at Stathi's is a culinary treat - how many mezes can we eat?|
We eat different food at a different time in far different settings than we did before moving here. But as with eating ice cream for lunch, going to the grocery store, watching weather and all things here the new normal is feeling quite normal these days!
We hope that your travels take you – armchair or real time – somewhere that is ab-normally wonderful! Thanks for being with us again this week as we took a bit of an introspective look at ex pat life.We’ll be back again soon with more tales of our Grecian Summer and do hope you’ll be along to enjoy it with us! Safe travels to you and yours ~
Linking up this week with:Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Travel Photo Thursday –
Best of Weekend