Do you remember the mythological story of Icarus? The boy whose wings were made of wax. He flew to close to the sun and his wings melted. He fell from the sky to his death and landed in the sea by the island that would be named Ikaria.
Greek mythology is just that to everyone except Greeks. It is received by us a something that brought us to all that we know and embrace through our culture. I would also tell you that God is even more important to us and our religious beliefs are even more passionate. I share this because my mom is about to be immersed in all things mythological and spiritual for the first time in her life in the place that my grandparents left to make a new life in the United States. For the next 27 days I journaled all of it as well as recorded moments on my Walkman.
As the ferry docked at the pier we see the beautiful bronze statue soaring up towards the sky. The juxtaposition of the statue tells a different story of a body crashing towards earth. The body has wings. This is Icarus, the boy who flew to close to the sun. This is where he fell to his death. This is our island.
Upon dragging our suitcases off the ferry, we walk down the pier to find our cousin waiting to greet us. A wonderful moment indeed! I had not seen her since I was 10 years old. She had never met my mom before and it was a beautiful moment. They were first cousins. Her mom and my Yiayia were sisters. This was going to be a family reunion on steroids. She proceeded to guide us through the Platia (plaza) to the steps that would lead us to my aunts home in Agios Kyrikos. This would be where we set up our main accommodations. We had packed overnight bags to move between stays at the family home up in Tsouretho or take the water taxi to Faros where we would spend most of our time. We were blessed to have family open their doors to us so we could explore everything. At this point my Yiayia Katina does not know we are there. In a few days we are going to surprise her in Faros. First thing’s first though.
I told mom that we need to get our bathing suits on and get in the water! This Pisces girl needs to swim! We put on our bathing suits and I led her down the steps to a place called Moustafa. Moustafa is known for its mineral springs. There are bathhouses that sit atop the stone mountainside. People travel from all over the world for its therapeutic benefits. I am not taking her to the top though. We are headed down to the thalassa (sea) which entails scaling over large boulders where we can jump into the thalassa. I mistook mom’s agility and it became comical. It was easy getting into the water. We swam around and took in the beauty. At times we simply floated. Keep in mind this is day one. After several hours there we decided it was time to get back to the house. We swam back to the boulders where there was a natural step to get out. I went first to show her what to do. It wasn’t working for mom. I jumped back in and tried helping her out. Nope. Not happening. I am now laughing because I couldn’t figure out how to get my mom out of the water. After about 10 minutes of riotous laughter we spot a man headed towards us. Mom looks up at him and says “Tony!!! It’s Argie! I am stuck in the Aegean. Please tell my husband I love him very much as this is where I’m dying today!” Yes this was Tony from Pittsburgh. He grew up with my dad and wouldn’t you know it, he was here to save my mom. He jumped in the water and did a better job of helping her out. This is a memory we would laugh about forever. So you see, Icarus wasn’t the only one who fell into the sea at this island. Argie was added to the list. Day 1 is complete!