Sunday, April 23, 2006

Easter Church Photos

One of these photos is everyone with their new Easter light. The other one is the light that has just been lit spreading throughout the church. Both very beautiful.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 Pascha

I haven’t written in several days, but the things that have happened over the past couple of days couldn’t possibly be described in writing. I will try my best though.

On Friday, I woke up and helped my friend paint the lines out on her street. We were actually very good Samaritans and we painted the neighbors as well because they are kind of old and it must be done by Easter. We had so much fun though, and by the end it looked really good. Plus, I am able to add it to my “street conservation” credit. J

After that, I went to Lefkes with her again and hung out. Because it was good Friday, everything was closed. It is a very big holiday, but not in the sense of celebrating. Good Friday symbolized that Christ has been crucified. It is supposed to be a deeply sad day. The bell at the church tolls non-stop all day from 6 in the morning until 3 in the morning (that’s when I lost count and fell asleep anyway). It is a day to go to church, and there are essentially services all day. There is a very beautiful church in Lefkes, so I just went and sat outside of it (I wasn’t properly attired to go in) and listened to the Byzantine Greek being sung in the service. It was very nice. I stayed there on the bench outside the church for about an hour.

After that, I decided to go for a walk, so I just followed paths until I got to the end of town. At the edge of town, there are the remains of the road built during the Byzantine Empire. The road is amazing in the places that it is well preserved. I walked a couple of miles down the path until I got a sense that it was time to go back. The path was beautiful with a stream running beside it at times. It took me up a mounting, through an olive grove and over fields of flowers. I really enjoyed it.

When I walked back, the church service was over, but they had a parade of the Greek equivalent of the Boy Scouts (except that the Greek version is a bit more morbid with it’s roots in Fascist Greece).

We finally left Lefkes, and I spent the rest of the afternoon eating dinner, snacking on gelato, taking photos and visiting with friends.

There was another church service at night, so I decided to go to it. I was told that it was one of the most amazing things I would see on Paros. At first, it was just chanting in Greek, and it seemed a little dull. However, the church is beautiful because it is all decked out with purple ribbons and flowers, etc. The tomb of Christ (holding the icon inside) is covered in flowers, and lines form for hours on end to kiss it (as it tradition in Orthodox Christendom). The priests spent and hour lighting candled and carrying them around the church. They also were swinging incense everywhere, and it was a very fun tradition to watch.

At 11:00, they sung a very beautiful hymn and then threw thousands of rose petals from the dome of the church down onto the tomb (and the priests). It was an amazing thing to see. I photographed it, and the photos will be ready by the end of the semester to view, but I would say that it WAS one of the most worthwhile things I’ve seen. It really was a religious experience. I had a good spot to watch it from as well up in the balcony of the church which is closed except for two days a year.

Yesterday was Holy Saturday. I spent the day working on photographs and doing other things for school. However, at 10:00, it was back to church for me. I spent one full hour taking photos of the beautiful but empty church. At 11:00, the service started, and I listened to the Greek that I don’t know and never will for a while. At 11:55, the lights went out in the church and in the holy sanctum, you could see the priest light up a light. It then grew as the alter boys and everyone else lit their lights. The point is that at that moment (12:00AM Easter morning), Christ has been resurrected. The light symbolizes new life. Everyone was then to light their light from the light of the priest or someone that had lit their light from the priest. It took a while for me to get my candle lit up in the balcony, but as my friend was giving me a light, fireworks went off outside and the song “Christos Anasti (Christ is Risen)” reached it’s high point. It was amazing. I took many photos of the light spreading over the church, and it was a great experience. When I managed to make my way through the crowd of thousands of people, I took my candle home and made a black cross over my doorway. Though this sounds as though it has its roots in the Passover, it is actually an Orthodox tradition to keep the evil sprits away for the year. The amazing thing is that the light that burns in the church and across many Parian homes all year (until next Easter) was born on that night, and I took part in it.

Today it is Easter Sunday. Everything is as dead as I’ve ever seen it in the town. People are at home roasting their lamb, eating the things that have been deprived of them for 40 days. The old men on the street say “Christos Anasti” (Christ is Risen) to which I reply “Alithos Anasti” (He is Truly Risen). I get a “Bravo!” and a pat on the back. I say. “Chronia Polla” (Many Years) and head on my way with a smile on my face.

All I have to say to you is “Kalo Pashcha!” (Beautiful Easter).

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Easter Eggs

Here are some photos of the red Easter eggs my friend and I dyed. They were really good. Red is the traditional color to dye the easter eggs.

Street Conservation

OK. Here are the photos of the street conservation I did :)

Note the lines I painted :)

Palm Sunday Decorations

OK. Here are some decorations from last Sunday. Pretty cool I think.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Chris in Lefkes

Report for Thursday, April 20, 2006: Holy Thursday

Today was quite amazing. This actually marks the second day in a row that I have found myself up on the roof of a building asleep. It was actually quite nice. Not only did I get to thaw out from the winter, I have also started to work on a very nice summer tan that I am sure will stay with me until I leave my home here in Greece.

I woke up late this morning because I very rarely keep a clock next to me in bed, and it very rarely matters when I wake up in the morning. I took a shower (at least the pathetic version of one that they have in Greece) and headed for the school. As I was starting to figure out what I was going to do for the rest of the day, my friend walked in and announced that she was going to go to Lefkes and that she had extra room in her car. As I was thinking of doing something in Lefkes today by bus, I took her up on her offer and jumped in her car. We took a nice little ride. I had 4 hours to kill. I took a walk to the top of the hill around the town, and I was able to take quite a few amazing photos. I was pleasantly surprised.

After my walk, I read my book and fell asleep on the roof of the sanctum. It was very nice.

My friend and I took the long way back, and we ran into some cattle in a poppy field. It was quite amazing to see. The field was really red, and the cattle were just munching away. I got quite a few good photos there as well.

We were hungry when we got back so we stopped at a cafĂ© and had a little bite to eat, it was really enjoyable. I had a feta and olive sandwich. It’s been a while since I went out like that, so I had a really good time.

Today is the day that you are traditionally supposed to color Easter eggs. The store was all out of eggs. When I went to the other store to get eggs, I was so happy to get my hands on some that I didn’t realize until later that I had grabbed brown eggs, and they aren’t good for coloring. Oh well. I’ve decided to spend the rest of my day here working on my photos. I’m pretty excited about that.

Jared will be here in almost exactly one week. That’s very exciting to me. I’m so happy!!!!

OK. Hope your day is going very well.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Holy Tuesday

OK. I don’t know if you read what I put up about Easter, but today is the Wednesday of the Orthodox Holy Week. Things around here are starting to get a little crazy. I’d say more than a little crazy. Greeks are like bears in the fact that they work hard all summer and then they kind of hibernate in the winter. Easter is an excuse for things to start to get going because 1.) it is religiously a restart to the year and 2.) so many tourists come that it proves to be a very lucrative endeavor to have your store open and running by then. So, I have been on a kind of sleepy island for the past two weeks that has suddenly awoken.

Another traditional thing during Easter time is to clean. It’s surely where the idea of spring-cleaning came from. If Christ is going to be resurrected, we may as well get everything clean and shiny for the rest of the year. So, for the first time all winter, people are actually working during the afternoon siesta trying to get their floors washed and buildings cleaned. It is also the time of year when they do the major construction repairs to their houses. Any area that needs to be plastered is re-plastered, and white washing is done if the current job isn’t pristine.

Another major thing is the repainting of the lines on the streets. Traditionally white was painted around each flagstone in the street to provide illumination in the moonlight (before streetlights). The islands have now become very well known for this street painting, and it is a mandate (at least in Parikia) that all lines be repainted once a week. It holds to tradition (and tradition is a VERY Greek thing) as well as fulfilling the expectations of the tourists.

The school needed to do this in several places, so I volunteered to help. We painted the lines all around the Plaka outside of the school. It was a lot of fun. I learned some things actually, and I’m going to put it on the course description of the things that I did while I was in Greece. After all, it is ancient street restoration isn’t it?

The holy week has thus far been uneventful for me. Palm Sunday was a lot of fun because I got to go to the church and listen to them chant out all of the traditional things. There are church services every day that go over the week before the death of Christ, but them being usual services and done in Greek, I haven’t attended any of them. The churches will soon be all decked out in flowers and purple, and the priests will have on their best attire. At that point, I will sneak in with my camera and get some shots of this beautiful time.

The one thing that I did end up getting was some traditional bread. It is sweet bread in the form of a ring covered in sesame seeds. It actually tastes quite wonderful. Though the Greeks eat tons of this anyway, it is traditional to make it on Holy Tuesday. The bakery was LOADED with it, and I went and bought two of them for just half Euro each. I got to share them with some of my friends, and I was glad to have taken part in that tradition.

Today and tomorrow are relatively uneventful, but all the excitement comes on Friday and Saturday. Friday is Good Friday. This is the day that Christ was crucified. It is a very sad day. Everyone wears black and the bell in the church tolls all day long (as is traditional when someone dies). The young women decorate a tomb with wildflowers, and people spend the day going to visit it. Nothing sweet is eaten (and in many cases nothing is eaten) because when Christ asked for water, he was given vinegar to drink. On this day there is a very late service (I believe at 10 PM) where they take the tomb off of its position in the church and parade it around town. There is a very beautiful moment when the lights of the church go out and then the priest lights a single flame. Everyone has candles, and they must light their candle with that flame. These are then taken home and three black crosses are put over the door to keep evil spirits out.

Saturday night is the actual Easter service. It is very late because after it, all of the restaurants are open and ready for business as LENT is over, and meat, oil, milk, cheese, etc. can be eaten again. I have never been in Greece when Lent was not going on, and I am excited to see meat again heavily in restaurants (not that it’s not easy to get during Lent).

As for me, I’m enjoying my little break here. I have spent time in the darkroom and time in the painting studio. I am preparing for Jared to come by picking up any loose ends needed before he arrives (like buying food, etc.)

I am also working with my school at this point to get them to give me credit for the work I have done here. They are quite picky, but I spent the entire day yesterday working out things, and I think I have outsmarted them. When I return from Greece, I should have relatively little left for me to have a degree in Art History (as I have been working toward for so long).

Today, the wind has come up from the south and we again have a sirocco. This is the 5th one since I’ve come. A sirocco is when the wind comes up off the Sahara desert and carries the warmth with it. It is funny to go outside because you think that the weather is going to be so cold because the wind is blowing so hard, but if you go outside with more than a t-shirt you sweat to death. On the south side of the island the wind is blowing so hard that your body can be at a 45-degree angle to the ground and the wind will hold it’s full weight. There are many odd things that happen during a sirocco. Mainly, the sky can turn a dark, deep shade of Amber from all of the sand traveling in it. On a less grand scale, people get headaches, have bad dreams and go crazy in general. There is a saying that if a sirocco has been blowing for more than three days and someone commits a crime of passion that it will be forgiven. You have to experience it to understand it’s strange effects.

Ok. I hope that this is enough of an update for you because I have nothing left to write up on. I will fill you in on how the rest of the holy week goes.

Monday, April 17, 2006

And the Clouds Smiled Upon the Carpet of Flowers

And the Clouds Smiled Upon the Carpet of Flowers

Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere

And the carpet of flowers lay before her...

Wild Flowers Abound

Check out these wild flowers.

More Anti Paros

Note the wild flowers.

Anti Paros

This is a photo I took when hiking on Anti Paros. Note the field of lavender in the back. Very beautiful.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Greek Easter and Holy Week

Holy week started yesterday. To give you a little bit of an education, here is some data about what this entails.


At least 95 percent of all Greeks claim membership in the Greek Orthodox church, part of the Eastern Orthodox church. Until 1054, the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches were one body. Theological, political, and cultural differences split the church in two, and those differences were never completely reconciled. Despite the power religion holds over everyday life, most younger Greeks are not devout churchgoers. Aside from the special Easter celebrations, services are attended mainly by old women and young children. And the Greeks often defy their church's teachings by clinging to beautiful old symbols, rituals and customs of pagan origine. Many Easter traditions originated long before the beginning of the Christian era.

The Greek Orthodox Church does not always celebrate Easter on the same date as the Catholic and Protestant countries. The reason is that the Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar when calculating Easter. This is case even in the churches that otherwise use the Gregorian calendar. When the Greek Orthodox Church in 1923 decided to change to the Gregorian calendar (or rather: a Revised Julian Calendar), they chose to use the astronomical full moon as seen along the meridian of Jerusalem as the basis for calculating Easter, rather than to use the "official" full moon.

Many Easter traditions originated long before the beginning of the Christian era. Like Christmas, which is related to pre-Christian winter festivals, Easter is connected in many ways with pagan rituals that accompanied the arrival of spring. It is possible that the name "Easter" stemmed from that of Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of springtime. Easter is also associated with the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach. The term "paschal", meaning "of Easter", is derived from the name of the Jewish festival, as are the names of Easter in some foreign languages. In Greek, Easter is called Pascha, meaning passover: It is the eternal Passover from death to life and from earth to heaven.

One of the most common Christian symbols, especially associated with Easter, is the lamb. It is often depicted with a banner that bears a cross, and it is known as the Agnus Dei, meaning "Lamb of God" in Latin.

The origin of the symbol is related directly to the Jewish Passover. In ancient times the Jews sacrificed a lamb in the course of the festival. The early Christians, most of whom were Hebrews, associated the sacrifice of the lamb with Christ's sacrifice on the cross. They connected the joyous Passover festival, which commemmorates the liberation of the Hebrews from their years of bondage in Egypt, with the liberation from death represented by the Resurrection.

The popularity of lamb as an Easter food is undoubtedly related to its importance as a symbol. During the middle ages roast lamb became the traditional main course of the Pope's Easter dinner, and it is still customarily served on Easter Sunday in many European countries.

The Easter Egg is associated with beliefs of particularly ancient origin. The egg was an important symbol in the mythologies of many early civilizations, including those of India and Egypt. It was commonly believed that the universe developed from a great egg and that the halves of its shell corresponded to Heaven and earth. The egg was also connected with the springtime fertility rituals of many pre-Christian and Indo-European peoples, like the old Cretans, and both the Egyptians and the Persians made a practice of coloring eggs in the spring.

Greeks mainly color eggs red (scarlet) to signify the blood of Christ. They use hard-boiled eggs (painted red on Holy Thursday) which are baked into twisted sweet-bread loaves or distributed on Easter Sunday; people rap their eggs against their friends' eggs and the owner of the last uncracked egg is considered lucky.

The 50 days which follow Easter are signified by the Pentecostarion, which are dedicated to the spiritual enjoyment of the participants in the deep belief that God is with all men in everyday life and thoughts.

Easter begins on the Saturday of Lazarus (the Saturday before Palm Sunday, 1 week before Easter Sunday) with children going from door to door singing the hymn of "Lazaros" and collecting money and eggs.
On the morning of Palm Sunday people gather in church and are given a cross made from palm fronds, which they put on their icon-stands at home and keep it for the whole of the coming year.

Every evening throughout Holy Week, people gather in church to follow with devoutness the Passion of Christ.

On Holy Tuesday, housewives make sweet rolls, the koulourakia, and the following day they do the housework, while in the evening they follow the blessing of Holy Oil that takes place in church.
Holy Thursday is the day for dyeing eggs. In the evening, after the reading of the 12 Gospel, the girls undertake the decoration of the bier of Christ (epitaphios) with garlands of white and purple flowers, so that in the morning of Good Friday it is ready to receive the image of the body of Christ when He is taken down from the cross.
Good Friday is a day of mourning. The drama of the death of Christ is followed with great devoutness. Sweet things are not eaten-for the love of Christ, who was given vinegar to drink. Soup made with sesame-paste, lettuce or lentils with vinegar is the food eaten on this day. It is considered a great sin to work with a hammer or nails or sew on Good Friday.

Vesper evening on Good Friday is followed by the procession of the bier (representing Christ's funeral). A band or choir playing or singing solemn music precedes the procession; they are followed by the cantors, the clergy, women bearing myrrh, the altar boys carrying the liturgical fans, scouts and guides, and the people of the region, who sing the hymns throughout the procession. All along its route, people scatter flowers and perfumes on the epitaphios (bier), holding lighted candles in their hands.

On Holy Saturday evening, the Resurrection mass (Anastasi =resurrection, the Resurrection of Jesus) takes place. At midnight the ceremony of lighting of candles is the most significant moment of the year. People, carefully, take home their lighted candles with the holy light of the Resurrection. Before entering their houses they make a cross with the smoke of the candle on top of the door, they light the oil candle before their icon-stand, and try to keep this light burning throughout the year.

The Midnight service is without a doubt the most important day on the calendar. At midnight all the lights are extinguished in the church and the priest comes from behind the doors on the altar carrying a candle. He walks to someone in the front row and lights their candle and these people who receive the light of the resurrection, the light is a symbol of the resurrection, pass the light from candle to candle and the light fills the church. Everybody leaves the church just before midnight, singing a song the words of which mean, Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Through death conquering death. At midnight at the moment of the resurrection all the families have gone to church together, all standing sort of huddled in these little insular units and everybody kisses everybody and say, 'Christos anesti, Christos anesti, Christ has risen, indeed He has risen. And it's a very touching moment. In the moment of conquering death, it has a certain meaning to kiss your grandparents at that point, who you know you'll be burying soon. And to be kissing the children who are coming up, who will be replacing you in the next generation. And there's a feeling of the weight of centuries. People have been saying these prayers unchanged for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years.

In Crete it's a custom to carry this candle back home, taking care the flame is not extinguished. At the house 3 crosses are made with the flame above the entrance door: the black soot 'paints' the crosses, in order to bless the house and its inhabitants by the light of Christ's resurrection.

Chris' First Week

Ok. I know that I haven’t written a lot lately. After my hectic life before traveling to Europe followed by a three-week, whirlwind tour across Europe, I’ve taken the last week to just regather my life, sort out what direction the next two months are going in, and get set in a routine that will get me there. Though this is not yet accomplished, I am here, I have started school, and I have set into what could be considered a routine.

I have decided to take the following classes here to enhance my education.

Figure Drawing
Basic Drawing
Darkroom Photography
Digital Photography
Creative Writing
Art History

It is a hell of a lot, but I don’t see the point of working hard here while I’m here, and while I have the attention of the amazing mentors that the school has provided.

Here’s how I spent my last week while I was busy NOT writing on my blog J

Monday, I went to the all school meeting where I got the basic idea of what classes are being offered, etc. We also talked about other super important things like “If someone discovers they have an extra 10 pair of underwear, would they kindly return them to the laundry.”

After the meeting, I went to the darkroom and re-familiarized myself with it. I met with my darkroom mentor, and we had a cup of coffee while I explained the things that I had been up to for the past year. She then took me back to the darkroom and told me to develop film.

It was an amazing experience to be back in the darkroom. Last year, I had so much trouble in there and it was like a torture to have to go there. I had this amazing ability to not go there because of it’s association with pain. This first time in the darkroom was amazingly simple and easy. It was all old hat, and somehow, over my amazing break from the darkroom, I have this magical ability to make everything work just perfectly!

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I went to classes and got myself settled. My painting studio is where it was last year, and it’s just a great thing. I like being down there with the doors that are so tall and wide. I can throw them open while I paint, and I really like it.

Friday again was very special for me. We were going to go on a hike, but when it came down to it, there were only three of us that were going to be able to go, and John wanted to return very early. We got on the boat to Anti Paros and he walked us to the edge of town and pointed in the direction we should go. We had been there before, so we had some idea of the direction that we were going in. We walked and walked and found a field full of flowers. The poppies were blooming, and the whole field was dotted with red poppies and assorted other yellow and purple flowers. It was definitely a mythic experience to be in the field, and I can certainly see where the Greek myths came from, they were born in a field of poppies. It really was magical. I sure hope that they are still out when Jared comes to see me in a week and a half, because they are just something else.

After that, we went down to the beach. No one was there, and it was completely private. None of us had our swim gear. It was such a nice day, etc., etc. You can use your imagination to figure out how we ended up going swimming. The water was very cool, but it was quite nice. We got out to sit on the rocks to dry off, and that completed another perfect section to the afternoon.

As we started to walk back in, the clouds rolled in after us. By the time we completed our 1.5-hour walk back to town, the rain was pouring. We got on the boat and had a rough ride back home. It was nice to sit in the bus as it drove half way around the island to get back to Parikia.

I am working on the photos now, and I will try to post one or two of them. It was, however, the first time in a long time that I shot more film than digital. It felt good, and the photos looked GREAT when I took them into the darkroom.

Today is beautiful Greek Palm Sunday. I went into the church and had a very good time. I just stood there and watched them do their thing. Everyone got herbs and palm leaves. The church was decorated with palm leaves weaved into amazing shapes (like donkeys). It was kind of fun to hear them chant in Greek. I felt like an outsider, but no one looked twice at me, because anyone is welcome in a Greek church. The ritual was very interesting, but I can see how it has it’s roots in pre-Christian religion.

Today, I am headed to the darkroom and likely to the beach. I’ll tell you all about it when I’ve done it.

Happy Latin Easter!!!!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Heavenly Field of Lupin

This field of Lupin was Heavenly.

My beautiful Greek Hike

Some photos I took on my hike yesterday...just for your personal Blog viewing. Enjoy...


One photo from Prague at night.

House is Brussels

Here is a photo of the room I stayed in in Brussels. Very amazing house. It was really a work of art.

Eiffel Tower

OK... Here was one of my quick snapshots of the Eiffel Tower. Pretty nifty.

Friday, April 07, 2006

My Inspiration

Today was different…different at least than what I am used to. It’s my second day here on my little Greek island of Paros.

The circumstances surrounding me leaving Greece almost a year ago and returning at the same time of year make it a comical return. It feels like I have run into a really good daydream. Believe me, I’ve had some really good daydreams over the past year, but I think you get the idea. It’s all so surreal. When I stepped off the boat, everything seemed so familiar, and it hasn’t stopped feeling that way since. I knew exactly where to go to my apartment, where to go for school, where to go for food (bougatsas and souvlakis). The island was exactly as I left it, in most ways.

When I arrived at the school, I realized that the people that I had shared my adventure with last year were all gone, save one, and the next adventure will have to be shared by others, many others. My small but close group of friends last year consisted of 9-10 very good friends. We all went everywhere together, and thought almost exactly the same. It was an odd thing, and at the time, we all were convinced that some cosmic reason had pulled us all together. This time, there is a group of 26 students, not separated into cliquey groups, but not so closely thinking that they all know and do the same actions together automatically. So, while the surroundings are the same, the people are different, which makes for a very surreal dream at this point until I get to know everyone and move on from that point.

So many amazing things have happened over the last day. I have been planning to months to eat a souvlaki and a bougatsa as soon as I got off the boat. I did that yesterday afternoon, and it was just amazing. The weather yesterday was just amazing, but the sirocco started last night, and man is it blowing.

I went on a hike today with my new group into the hills of Paros. It was amazing. We took a bus to the town of Lefkes and then took off from there. Lefkes is one of those towns that belongs in a tourist book, but hasn’t made it there, so it still has its amazing charm. It seems so empty and so full at the same time, and you rerealize every second that you are in Greece. The houses are whitewashed and the doors are all painted that amazing blue color. The flagstones on the ground are painted on, and the old Greek men sit at the taverna or the barber talking about the latest gossip before a full day.

From Lefkes we set out on the road and went to a big valley. It was amazing. Walking around the island with John Pack is an experience that I swear should have only been reserved for the Angels in Heaven. He knows so much and has so much passion for the combination of nature, art and students that it makes every moment spent outside with him completely worth it. We looked at flowers I haven’t seen in a year, plants I’m not familiar with and the amazing sirocco wind pulling the clouds quickly overhead at a low elevation. John found me some Oregano growing on the side of the hill, picked it, handed it to me and said, “Welcome home.” It was one of the best gifts I could have been given. It, as well as many more I found today, are sitting on my table drying. I am waiting for the perfect piece of meat to roast them with (likely to happen after the Pascha meat ban).

On the hike I found a field of Lupin just blooming. It blew me away. Though I wasn’t much in the picture-taking mood, I fell behind the group and just sat in the field and snapped away. That field is one of my seven wonders of the world. Hopefully what I caught in my camera is representational of what happened with me sitting there. Lupin has got this glow about it’s downy leaves and it’s many violet shades that make you feel like you are in a field created only for a king. If I were a king I would make Lupin my royal flower and protect it nationally.

Also on the hike I got to see the “Sanctum” that the school acquired recently. It is a small building in Lefkes that has been designed to be a place to go and relax, think, become inspired and get away from it all. It is definitely quite an amazing place, and I have plans to use it in the future.

Everything seems so familiar to me again here. The same bird that woke me up last year every morning is again outside my window reminding me that his sweet song still exists and still is beautiful. The church bells go off at the top of the hour in uneven patterns that make them impossible to count. The goats on the hillside are living out their last days before Pascha starts next week. The wild flowers are in full bloom. The Greeks are still driving the wrong way down one-way streets and yelling kalimera (good morning) as you stroll by. I keep telling John that it’s like I fell asleep and woke up a year ago. He agrees that it’s good to be back.

All I can say at this point is that I admire what they do here in this place. It’s not all about art technique and how to paint. Though that is something you get out of this place (and in a much better way than anywhere else) it’s about beauty and looking at the world in a different way. The reason that I was so excited to come back here was because of the experience that I had here last year. That experience took me out of the life that I was living a little unhappily and put me in a place that made it so natural to be who I was as an artist that I wouldn’t be able to betray that in the future. It really gave me the strength to go home and start producing and surviving on my own as a photographer. I come back here with that courage, and I know that it will be cowardly compared to how I will leave here again. I’ve learned in the last day not to ever stop reinventing life. Never to stop being willing to live in quality and not in quantity. The reason I chose to be an artist was because I have an ability to step outside of life for just a while and turn it around. Though I may not have in words right now exactly how this works, I will soon, and it will be inspirational to me again. My outlook has been refreshed, and I must remind myself that it is important for me to not lose that again in the future.

John tells me that I must eat my fill of oranges because as soon as the crop disappears, they stop selling them here on the island. Those oranges are amazing, and in the last 24 hours, I have consumed 5 of them (and thinking of a 6th here as soon as I’m done). I’ve never had a more amazing fruit, and I can see how little kids use to get oranges in their stocking at Christmas. I’d be happy with that as well as long as it came from Greece!

My bougatsa for the day is waiting, and I’m ready to consume it. I hope that my writing has allowed you to get some glimpse of how amazing it is here, and be understanding of me if I talk nonstop about Greece. J

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Chris is in Greece

Hello All,

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I have finally arrived in Greece. Not only in the country of Greece as a general area, but as I type, I am sitting in my final destination of "Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, Paros Greece."

The weather here is nice. I was able to get off the ferry this morning and dump my bags in my amazing apartment before setting out to get the Greek food that I so know and love. Those of you that have heard me talk about these things before will know that I grabbed a souvlaki and a bougatsa and went and sat at the port and fed my tomatoes to the fish. It was great.

So... the three week traveling journey is behind me, and two semesters of long, hard work are about to begin.

As I sat eating my souvlaki this afternoon, I couldn't help but feel shock at this magical place that I have again landed myself in. My camera is ready. Tomorrow, our fearless leader, John Pack, is leading our student group into the hills to find something. I plan to pick plenty of herbs for my own personal use in cooking this week.

Speaking of cooking, I best get off to the supermarket before it decides to close for siesta leaving me with no yogurt and no oranges for my first weekend back to my magical and wonderful island!

Hope to hear from you soon.