Last weekend, one of our women at HD gave birth to a baby boy. I went to visit them on Tuesday morning with one of our volunteers, and mostly I sat around asking questions like, “Is it weird to think that he used to live inside you?” while the volunteer did actually helpful things like help her breastfeed and tell funny stories of how she’d messed up as a mother.
Another weird workday occurred on Thursday, when a coworker took me to the police station to get fingerprinted. No, I am not (yet) a Greek felon! This was the last step toward getting all the paperwork necessary to apply for a volunteer visa when I return to the States next week.
I also did all the case plans and monthly reports and prepared my replacement with as much information and pre-done work as possible. (12 Steps conversation: “Man, I put so much value in my competency that I’m working super hard to make sure I leave my replacement well prepared!” “Yes, but…that is your job. You should definitely be doing that.” “Oh, right.”) The upside of being a good planner is that I think I’ve got things pretty much settled at work, and I can spend this next week just enjoying things.
Speaking of enjoying things…Luciana’s old roommate Mark visited her from Northern Ireland, and she invited me to join them on a weekend extravaganza of day trips. We went to Mycenae (founded by Perseus, formerly ruled by the Agamemnon that led the war against Troy) and wandered ancient ruins. There was a museum at the site that held the Mask of Agamemnon, an art history staple that I have seen in many a textbook, and now also with my own eyeballs!
We drove a bit further to Nafplio. I accidentally told them that you could either drive to the fortress overlooking the cute town OR walk 857 steps to the top, and once she knew there was an athletic option, Luciana refused to do anything else. Knowing we were the weak links, Mark and I started walking up while Luciana and Giorgos ran ten minutes to the car and back to drop off our coats, and they STILL caught up with us when we were only halfway up the stairs. When we got to the top, we discovered that it cost €8 to enter the fortress, so we just walked right back down those 857 steps. We then walked along the waterfront, so by the time we reached a taverna, we totally earned the right to gorge ourselves on cheese, mushrooms, turkey burgers, chicken, salad, and wine.
We drove back late, so everyone slept in on Sunday. Giorgos had to work, which is a tragedy because it was a BEAUTIFUL day. Luciana took us to Porto Rafti, a seaside town just outside of Athens near the airport. The water was clear, the sky was so blue, and we bought drinks from a kiosk and sat on rocks jutting out into the sea. We left one good thing for another when Luciana drove us up a mountain to a newly constructed castle that serves the BEST desserts and overlooks an absolutely stunning view of the Aegean. I went to the bathroom and walked back out to the porch where we were sitting and had to catch my breathe because I’d forgotten just how amazing our view was.
It was the sort of day that you imagine life in Greece must be like all the time. I hope by this time (year 2, week 12), you realize that that is not the case. But holy cow, do days like these make the culture shock and language learning feel worth it.