'We are originally from Washington State, but we live in Greece. (pause) Yes, Greece IS home'.
So many times on our recent Adriatic cruise we found our fellow passengers -- many of them Americans -- doing a double take when we introduced ourselves and answered the question, 'Where are you from?'.
|Our Stone House on the Hill - Greek Peloponnese|
Last March, I drew several raised eyebrows from friends in the States when I wrote on a Facebook post that our visit to the Pacific Northwest was coming to a close and 'it was time to head home'.
'Home?!' several responded, 'You consider Greece home now?'
Well, as a matter of fact, yes, we do.
Greece is Home
|The Stone House on the Hill (far left) and Messinian Bay|
Our neighboring fellow American expats don't find it at all unusual to consider Greece home. In fact the two of us stand out because we still have a residence back in the States. Many here have moved their residences and lives, lock, stock and barrel, to this side of the pond. However, when we moved here we weren't quite ready to cut ties completely with the state in which we were born and raised. Our residence there - where we've spent less than 2.5 months in the last three years, has become somewhat our 'vacation home' for now.
|American expats all - on a Greek fishing boat adventure|
For those who've never made the quantum leap of moving to a foreign land, the idea of that far-distant place as being home is really, well, quite foreign for lack of a better word. What they don't realize is that it isn't a far distant place for us anymore, it is our 24/7 world.
And once you adjust to the rhythms of that new world, it really is quite a nice place to be.
Many of you who've been with us here since the beginning of this chapter know we gave ourselves five years and if at the end of that time we'd had enough we would move on. Now, nearing seven years of home ownership and three of living here, we now find ourselves pondering how many more years we might be able to squeeze into this adventure.
|Our world is the Greek Peloponnese these days|
We certainly are planning/hoping for at least a few more years and in doing so, seriously discussed finding a one level home that would lend itself more kindly to the, ahem, aging process'. Our Stone House on the Hill is literally that, terraced down a hillside in the midst of an olive grove. And that means lots of stairs. But a new home would mean constructing a new home, a process here that in the best of times takes two years and with the recent flurry of construction and shortages of materials, would likely extend that by another year. So we opted to stay at. . .
Our Stone House on the Hill
|The red gate became blue and white|
A new home here would mean leaving our Stone House on the Hill overlooking the Messinian Bay and villages of Agios Dimitrios and Agios Nikolaos. Our garden and grove. Our neighbors. Big Sigh.
So once again we threw common sense and caution to the wind and decided to stay right where we are! We will deal with aging and mobility issues as they come our way. But with that decision came the realization that it was time to update, upscale and make this little stone house into the one we always envisioned it could be.
What a summer we have had as the home improvement projects got underway and changes began!
Blue, blue our world is blue
|New blue windows brighten inside and out|
Blue. Greece is known for the color blue. We needed new windows and doors and we wanted to get rid of our forest green color, which seemed better suited to the Pacific Northwest we had left behind than here. We went Greek . . .blue!
|Our friends/installers Ilias and Dimitri at work|
One of the most enjoyable but sometimes challenging things about being an expat is doing something major like this, because it is done differently. You need to undertake a project knowing little about it or the ways to accomplish it in a foreign land. However daunting this one felt at first, our contractor and his sons (whom we have known for several years) made it a pleasant experience. It began at his home. They wanted us to see the quality of windows and doors we were purchasing as they would be the same quality as those in his home.
|The new front door brightens the house|
We sat at his dining room table and were offered the ubiquitous glass of water and home-made spoon sweets, the traditional welcome refreshments in Greek homes for centuries. We toured the house. We chose colors, styles, made the down payment, shook hands then talked about the new grand baby. Hands down a lot more fun than a trip to a Big Box in the U.S.!
|The new Stone House on the Hill|
Inside and Out
|Master bedroom needed real storage space|
While work was ending on the doors and the windows, it was just starting on the interior. It was time to move from our 'making do with what came with the house' and making it work for us. Again, working with a small company, this one in Kalamata, we were able to not only modernize the bedroom and den but customize it as well -- for a fraction of what it would have cost in the U.S.
|What I told Alex I wanted|
I wrote several years ago about getting used to the lack of storage space and smaller rooms in homes here. And I admitted that we Americans are spoiled with having huge rooms and more storage than we know what to do with sometimes. But it was time to maximize the limited space we had available. Working with a delightful young man, who spoke perfect English we submitted our ideas in the sketch above and this is what we got:
|The new look|
As we move into autumn our home improvement projects continue at our Stone House on the Hill (we have two more big ones on the to do list). We continue to monitor travel advisories and updates as they relate to Covid. We are traveling soon - heading back to the Pacific Northwest to touch base with friends and family there. We hope that if you are traveling that you stay safe and well. Travel is just a bit more of a challenge in these times of Covid than it used to be, isn't it?
And as always, we thank you for the time you've spent with us today.
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