'It isn't in our backyard, but it is certainly in the neighborhood,' wrote a fellow expat on Facebook of the invasion of Ukraine. He and his wife live in Prague, capitol of the Czech Republic. We used to live a few miles apart back in the Seattle suburbs.
|Digital Art from Ukraine (details below)|
Another expat friend and former Kirkland resident, now living in Switzerland, observed that being where we all find ourselves now 'gives us a different perspective than when we were 'home' [in the States]'.
|A different perspective of war from this side of the sea|
They both nailed it. We definitely have a different perspective than if we were all still some 8,000 miles away. Actually, it is amazing that we have so many expat friends from our old stomping ground on this side of the sea. Each of us willingly made the choice to leave all that we knew for the unknowns of a new country and culture. This week I think, "What a luxury, that word 'choice'?".
We chose to leave our homes, friends and family behind unlike those forced to flee Ukraine this week.
|In Prague helping to meet basic needs|
Our friends in Prague are helping with the Ukraine refugee relocation effort there. Many are arriving with nothing more than a small bag of belongings.. The numbers are mind-boggling: 5,000 a day, some 30,000 arrivals in the last week. The volunteers are scrambling to find accommodations both for refugees and to provide basic necessities.
|Volunteers await arriving refugees at the Prague train station|
The phrase, 'all the comforts of home', comes to mind as I look around our Greek Stone House on the Hill. We've brought so many items with us and have purchased the remainder of items necessary to make this house a home. Again, a luxury of choice unlike those who were so abruptly uprooted from their homes by the Russian invasion.
In Greece the numbers of arriving Ukrainians last week were just over 1,000. We know more are coming and efforts are underway to welcome and accommodate them. Throughout Europe authorities are racing to reduce red tape while volunteers meet, greet and try to ease these displaced persons into temporary housing.
|Collection drive in Mani poster|
Fundraising and collection drives are underway - even in our sparsely-populated slice of rural Greece. Just this morning I noted a collection drive notice and collection bin at our local supermarket.
In The Neighborhood
|Ukraine is to the northeast of Greece|
The direct line distance between Greece and Ukraine is 1,276 km, or 793 miles. However the real travel distance is just over 1,668 km or 1,036.7 miles. For those back in the States, it would be like living in Washington State and having a war break out in California.
|Military ship off the coast of Ukraine 2014|
Meanwhile life goes on as Normal
|Serene sunsets at Costa Navarino this week|
However dire the headlines right now, I want to assure you that life is continuing quite normally around here. The Scout and I just returned from a two night stay at the Costa Navarino luxury resort to the northwest of us and the place was full of golfers - European golfers, not just Greek locals. The first two flights of the season - both from Germany -- landed a week ago at the Kalamata Airport and we suspect a large number of our fellow guests had been on those flights.
|Almond trees are in bloom|
|Wildflowers are in bloom|
|Kalamata ready for visitors|