We are back in the village. Not the Greek village, the American one.
|Main Street Manson, Washington|
Still shaking our heads at how rapidly the last year sped past, we are even more amazed that we are already at a midway point in our annual stay here.
|The Stone House on the Hill in Greece|
Our expat life is one that involves keeping a toehold back in our homeland. Thus, we have a house in Greece where we live the majority of the year and one in America that we use for a bit of time each year. This American home has diversified -- and benefited -- our portfolio and provided a perfect getaway spot while serving as the 'fallback plan', should our health or Greece's residency requirements ever dictate a return to the States.
|A morning at home in Manson|
Frankly, we like both places and are grateful we can be a part of each. We like having options.
And I know many of you reading this are considering options for expat life. There really is no one way of living an expat life; some choose to pack up and leave a country for good while others keep a toehold as we have done. Some rent, some buy, some build. There is no one model that works. Your options are many and you need to choose what best fits you.
|Commuting between our villages|
That said, we've learned over the last few years that a dual lifestyle, 8,000 miles and several time zones apart, isn't the easiest of lifestyles. It certainly never gets boring. It is far better than Sudoku at keeping our aging brains from going bad.
Speaking of distance, the commute between our villages is a long one, usually spanning two days with some 14 hours of that in the plane. The good news is that we are able to fly from Kalamata to Seattle, but with a stop overnight in London. It cuts some three hours off our car travel time by not flying out of Athens. Still the journey and time zone changes take a toll on the brain and the body which slows us a bit for a few days no matter which direction we fly.
|Mercer Island and Lake Washington approaching SeaTac|
Because our time in the States is limited to a few weeks, we pack a lot into those weeks. There are simply tasks that must be done during each visit. And countless friends we try to see while in the area. Our calendar for this trip was full before we left Greece.
|Walk in vaccinations - easier than Greece|
Long time readers may be surprised to learn that we still don't qualify for Covid booster shots in Greece (as we don't have their equivalent to a Social Security number, required for the shots) so that is high on our 'to do' list here. I block out a couple 'sick' days for them as I feel their impact. My trip to the dentist later this week promises another couple of days of reduced activity. Both shorten what is already a short window of opportunity.
|'Cub' newspaper reporters still friends 40 years later|
A life of all work and no play wouldn't be fun, so we also will have attended two reunions, hosted house guests, wined and dined with friends and had numerous coffee klatches by the time we return to Greece.
American Culture Shock
|Our bank branch closed in our absence|
The most amazing thing about our return to America is the dose of culture shock we get with each visit. This year's tasks - to change banks and mobile devices - are almost tying Greece's red tape and bureaucracy. We're realizing once again that things 'ain't what they used to be'.
A 'quick stop' at the new bank became a marathon session of showing identification and signing papers. "We don't like it any more than you do," said our young bank executive, "you can thank the Patriot Act for it." I honestly had to think a minute to remember what the Patriot Act is. . .hint, it was brought on by the events of 9-11.
|Lake Chelan in Manson|
An attempt to upgrade our five-year-old U.S. mobile device should have been a task completed in the hour or so I allotted to it on the afternoon of our arrival in Seattle.
Now, nearly two weeks into my quest, we are still without a new device. The biggest shock to me is that I can't call the phone company, . . .sorry, the term is now, 'service provider', and talk to a human. In Greece we walked in the phone store, bought a phone and picked it up two hours later after they had transferred my old device's contents to the new one. Done and dusted. Here I've texted, chatted and interacted with 800- numbers and mechanical voices.
Our visit this week to a Verizon (the service provider) retail store finally involved interaction with a real human; one with dyed Greek-blue hair, who was just about to order the phone we wanted. . .then she checked my phone number and said my service plan didn't allow her to order the phone. Do what?!?!?!
So, true confession: I've resorted to the only option left for an American consumer with limited time: I am ordering from Amazon. In a week I will have a new phone delivered to the doorstep.
|Harvest - a perfect time to be in agricultural areas|
Our two villages are located in areas similar in geography and topography. One blanketed with vineyards and orchards, the other with olive groves and vineyards. Harvest of apples and grapes is underway here and by the time we return, we will be heading into olive harvest in Greece.
|My favorite vendor, Fran, at the Manson Farmer's Market|
We've grown accustomed to - and love - the laid-back pace of our village worlds so I don't think living back in a metropolitan suburb as we once did in the States would ever again appeal. We like the concept of walking to the grocery store or to the coffee shop/kafenion in our village lifestyle along the sea in Greece and the shores of Lake Chelan here.
With that I will sign off as our first houseguest arrive today. I'll have more from this slice of American life in the next week or so. Thanks for being with us and wishes for safe travels to you and yours~