Siesta

In most of Greece, all work stops in the afternoon so families can get together for a big lunch. After their filling meal, most people retire for a nap. This nap generally lasts from about 2pm to 5pm. When they wake up, they have coffee and the shops reopen for the evening hours.

I’m not a big napper myself. I generally use this time to catch up online, to read on the balcony or to watch my little one sleep. Parker sleeping is something to behold. The utter peacefulness of his expression is mesmerizing.

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When he was a baby, he would often fall asleep in my arms and I would stare at him for hours. Sometimes, his eyelashes will flutter and I used to wonder what he was dreaming about.

Nowadays, Parker has a tendency to either talk in his sleep or to tell me immediately upon waking what he was dreaming about. Not surprisingly, it’s generally about trains or Winnie the Pooh. This morning, he woke up asking about Piglet.

I love the simplicity of his life and of experiencing it with him. His greatest joy these days is eating a peanut butter sandwich and taking a walk to visit the donkey. If that’s all it takes to make him happy, I’m more than happy to oblige.

Trail Running

On the island, my workout schedule fundamentally changes since there isn’t a gym or pool to be found. By necessity, mountain and trail running becomes my main form of exercise.

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Trail running is nothing like road running. First, you have to keep your focus entirely on the trail ahead of you. There’s an abundance of rocks and roots and other natural obstacles that can easily cause you to sprain an ankle. When I’m running on asphalt, daydreaming is my constant companion and three miles may pass before I come back into the present moment. On the trail, every single step is calculated and focused. Did I mention that there are snakes? Yeah, that definitely keeps my focus sharp.

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The other difference is that I’m running at a high elevation, so it’s harder to catch my breath. Two miles becomes the equivalent of six at sea level and since I’m on a mountain, I’m constantly running either uphill or downhill so there isn’t time to catch my breath before I’m charging up another incline.

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Whereas road running is mindless, trail running is precise and mentally exhausting. My usual loop is probably about 2.5 miles, but when I return, I feel like I’ve been running for hours. It’s laborious work, but there’s a certain sense of satisfaction to running completely alone in nature. Yup, I’m sweaty and tired, but it feels good.

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Of course, I generally carry my cell phone with me so that if I do sprain an ankle or take a tumble down a ravine, I can call my dad to come get me. Safety first!

The Market

Every Monday on the island, there’s a big Farmer’s Market in the neighboring village. They sell everything from produce to poultry to flowers to clothes and shoes. This past Monday, we took Parker to the Market. He walked away with a Mickey Mouse baseball hat and I left with about 10 lbs. of fresh fruits and vegetables. I can’t tell you how happy we both were with our acquisitions. Here are some photos from our trip to the Market.

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Greek Coffee

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I have a confession to make. Before yesterday, I did not know how to make a Greek coffee. In my defense, a cup of Greek coffee is only about 4 oz. of liquid so it’s not exactly my choice of caffeination. Furthermore, Greeks can linger over a single cup for upwards of an hour, which is baffling to me, but I am (in this and most things) decidedly American. Now, however, I can make a Greek coffee with the best of them. I feel Greeker already.

First, add one tea cup worth of water for each cup of coffee you’re going to make to your briki (the traditional beaker in which you make the coffee). Measure the water using the cup that you’re going to serve the coffee in. Notice how they even have special burners specifically for the briki.

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Once the water gets warm, add in one heaping teaspoon of Greek coffee and as much sugar as you prefer (my parents do equal parts sugar and coffee, my cousins do two parts sugar to one part coffee).

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Give it a good stir to dissolve the coffee and sugar. Once it starts foaming and expands to half way up your briki…

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…fill the coffee cups half way.

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Put it back on the burner and allow it to foam up a second time then top off your cups.

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My theory as to why Greeks take so long to drink the coffee is that since the grinds are in the actual cup, if you chug it, you’re likely to get a mouthful of sludge. Sipping it allows the grinds to settle after each sip. When you get close to the bottom of your cup, it’s easy to distinguish when the liquid ends and the dregs begin.

This coffee is usually served with some Greek cookies or some biscotti. I’m excited to start making this when I get back to the states. Of course, I’ll have to secretly chug a 32 oz. mocha to get my fix before the sipping commences…

The Local Donkey

This is a donkey that lives in our village. Parker takes a daily trip to visit him. He’s fascinated that there’s a donkey just hanging out in a pasture.

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The donkey’s owner rides him up and down the mountain and uses him for other work around his property. It is so easy for me to imagine what life was like here hundreds of years ago because so many members of the older generation still live the same way. They have simple two room homes and the following things: a goat (for milking), hens (for eggs), a donkey (for transportation) and a garden to grow vegetables. I imagine that there are very few things they actually purchase from a traditional supermarket.

Every once in a while, I have a sudden urge to flee the complications of my regular life and move to our simple island home that has no address and no mailbox. I think I would last about 4 months before I started craving some Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and the conveniences of a local gym.