Friday, June 30, 2017

Last Chapter: Santorini

The beauty of Santorini is astounding. We are on the caldera side, where sometime between 1600-1500 BC the volcano in the center of the island blew with such ferocity it is speculated to have been the largest, loudest, ash-spewing volcanic eruption in the history of mankind. It is blamed for the cultural demise of the Minoans, the predecessors of Greek civilization.

What is left of the volcanic eruption, is a steep ringed island with a center. High up on the caldera side is fantastical, breathtaking. If Mystenga Beach invited doing nothing, this demands doing nothing. One is happy to sit and view. The occasional bird, passing yachts--it's almost still, but then one notices the white-wake behind a boat, the potted crepe myrtle rustled by the wind. Or when I have just dozed off, Tony adjusting my lounge chair back under the sun umbrella. Ah yes, the sun is moving too.

The uniqueness continues. We are sleeping in a cave. It is however, a luxury cave, stuccoed and its ceiling embedded with twinkling lights--like stars.

It's so silent, my ears have a hard time adjusting to the intensity of not having to work, decipher, discern. It's cool in the back of the cave and the bed is made with a down filled blanket. Thinking of it makes me drowsy.

The winding stairs and pathways of Santorini lead to corridors of shops: jewelry, swimsuits, souvenirs, souvlaki, tavernas, ice cream shops, and bakeries. I stop when my eyes are dazzled by a blue stone, as clear and luminescent as the sea. The lady motions for us to come inside, I shake my head no, for I have no intention of buying. She lures us in like a siren, lays the necklace out and tells me how beautiful it will look with my blue eyes. After hearing the price and knowing my priorities, I tell her I will think about it. It is the only way I will be allowed to leave her kindness, her persistence.

I stop again when my eyes are dazzled by the fine looking pastry in window cases behind a sign that reads All handmade dough. The shop owner is young, enterprising, and adorable. Before he cuts us a piece of the chocolate filled bougatsa, Tony whispers, "They always cut it larger than you want."

We give him a very specific measurement with our fingers, and when he has cut the angle, and we vigorously agree, he angles the knife to cut it just a little bigger. We appreciate his cunning and his charm, turn to each other and smile, and when we sink our teeth into the bougatsa, I wish he'd cut even more. It's the Greek version of a warm chocolate chip cookie with all of it's buttery, chocolate sweetness.

A short hour later, we need to find some real food, and I long for a piece of the bougatsa shop's pizza. we return and after slicing our piece of fluffy bread and cheese covered pizza, he says, "You look so familiar! I know you." Tony is waiting for him to say he looks like Clint Eastwood, or the Terminator, but I ruin his international moment, by interrupting, "We were in here an hour ago." His eyes light up and he knows he's found someone who appreciates his All handmade dough. We are invited to sit on the vine-roofed terrace and relax. We are like dough in his magic hands.

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