Here we are in our Stone House on the Hill,
celebrating our first year as part time ex pats in Greece.
With most of our major projects completed, we’ve slowed our pace and indulged
in blissful, idle hours ~ most of which we’ve spent gazing out over our small
terraced olive grove and the view we have up the Mani coastline just beyond it;
our own little slice of Greece’s Peloponesse peninsula
|Dusk at The Stone House on the Hill|
Many of you have followed along or been a part of the journey that brought us to
this Stone House and you’ve stuck with us as we’ve turned it into our own. Some
through the blog and others in real life, real time. Your companionship,
encouragement and enthusiasm have been most appreciated.
‘You are never to old to set a
new goal or dream a new dream.’
It was back in 2014 when we got serious about focusing that somewhat fleeting
daydreaming of ours into an action plan. We - this 60-something duo – decided it
was time for a ‘final fling’, a ‘new challenge’, a ‘project’, before we got too
old to have one. We’d accumulated many daydreams during our travels but kept
coming back to the idea of. . .
Growing Olives Instead of Old
Last December 15th as we sat with the sellers, an array of others, (three
attorneys, our realtor and the Notary) in the Notary’s cramped second-floor
office in the nearby village, we moved that daydream into reality.
As vivid as if it were yesterday, we recall those pages and pages of
documents being read aloud (a legal requirement here) in Greek and translated to
English. Then payments (both for the home purchase and costs associated with it)
were made and handshakes offered.
The purchase process that had taken months to get in order, was over in less
than an hour. . .
. . .then, ‘but, of course’ as they say here, we all – buyers, sellers,
realtor and attorney - went to the cafe next door for a drink!
|Celebrating the sale|
Finally, that Grecian stone and concrete temptress was ours – ten days before
Christmas. We’d nailed that daydream - the one that had slipped between our
fingers earlier in the year -- and made it reality.
|The Stone House on the Hill|
Recalling those first few days, we’ve laughed at what a stark reality we’d
purchased. It was rather a bleak stone house, both literally and figuratively.
Cold (we ran out of fuel for several days that first stay – both central heat
oil and wood), empty (we gave away most of the old well-used furniture and the
new hadn’t yet been delivered) and rooms with gray stone accents around white
ceiling, walls and floor that didn’t make for a warm and fuzzy feeling. With no
television or internet – it also felt a bit lonely. That didn’t deter us from
the vision we had for this place. . .
|December 2014 - The Stone House on the Hill|
As the days became weeks, and weeks stretched into months the The
Stone House on the Hill
has evolved into our
Stone Home on the Hill
. New furniture, paint
and decorating touches and a bit of hard labor, by us and others (not to mention
two cats who adopted us) made for some remarkable changes even with this
part-time life we’ve had here.
Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
|One Year Later - Stone House on the Hill|
Just as the house has changed, so have we. This Greek adventure has moved us
from our world, filled with family, friends and the familiar in the United
States’ Pacific Northwest, into a dual existence – living two decidedly
different lifestyles on opposite sides of the globe.
‘Let’s be honest. Retirement abroad is not for
everyone. A totally new environment. Distance from relatives and long-time
friends. Culture clashes. Health care issues. Language barriers. But it’s also
possible to enjoy a higher standard of living at a lower cost in foreign
locations of natural beauty, appealing culture and great charm.’
|A neighbors night out |
By living part of the year ‘there’ and part ‘here’ we’ve enriched our lives with
new friends; both Greek and other ex pats (from a variety of countries) and have
neighbors who are friends as well at both of our homes.
During the months we’ve been in Greece, we’ve developed new daily routines
and honed new and forgotten skills. We’ve gotten back in touch with the basics
of our childhoods– stringing a clothesline, drying clothes on the line, washing
dishes by hand, living without television, putting together the miniscule pieces
that come in a box and turning it into shelves or coat racks or other items.
|We learned to harvest olives - it is hard work!|
Little successes are noted with pride; like learning bits and pieces of the
Greek language. . .I know the days of the week and can count to six. We can both
order wine and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Vocabulary victories occur
Two sets of friends from the Pacific Northwest visited us this fall. We
explored areas and eateries, sharing quality, unrushed time together; proving as
the old saying goes, that ‘the road to a friend’s house is never long’. . .
okay, so the flight is rather long, but you get the idea!
As for ‘distance from long time friends and family’, as Forbes
cautioned. . .well, technology has made that simply, nonsense. Thanks to
internet, Skype, Facebook and email, we are able to stay in touch with friends
and family. My early 2016 calendar ‘back home’ is filling with social
engagements and appointments that have been arranged while I am here in Greece
as easily as if I’d been at the computer back there.
The doors we open and close each
day decide the lives we live.
- Flora Whittemore
Opening any new chapter in life often means ending or modifying others. Our
increased time in Greece required that I resign from a board of directors for a
non-profit educational agency on which I had served for 15 years. That was
tough. It also sidelined my freelance writing for a time.
who used to focus on the logistics of life (investments
and finances among them) as well as finding travel deals from Seattle has had to
expand his calculations to international finances, thinking both in dollars and
euros. And I’ve written previously of how this base in Europe has given him a
whole new candy-shop of travel options to research.
|Dusk in the Village of Stoupa|
We’ve discovered the joys of village life with its laid-back pace. As we get
to know people in the area trips to town take longer as we must stop and visit,
or give a quick hello to someone we know. We refer to businesses by the owners
name, “Let’s go to Yiannis’ and Eleni’s tonight” . . . “Let’s see if Ellie has
fresh calamari” . . .’'We need to stop at Dimitri’s for nails’.
|Slow travel in The Mani|
Our pace has slowed here – a stark contrast with life back in the states.
|Our olive crop waits for the press|
Little did we know when we purchased this home and its 15-tree olive grove how
attached we’d become to this agricultural lifestyle. Harvesting our first crop
of olives was an unforgettable experience. We are already looking forward to
next year’s crop.
We are looking forward to new adventures in Greece during our second year
here and hope you’ll be back regularly to share them with us. We are off to
Cairo this coming weekend so will have tales to tell from there as well as more
stories from Greece in future weeks. Until then, safe travels to you and yours~
Some of you who’ve signed up to receive these posts in your email seem not to
have gotten some of the recent ones, if you could take a minute and reply to
this post, saying, “got it” we would appreciate it greatly.
Linking up this week: