Thursday, May 26, 2005

Signs and Wonders

There seems to be something about Greece that perpetually ensconces me in a state of awe and wonder. I don't think I've ever lived anywhere that had so many sights of natural beauty and historic curiosity. Not that Tennessee didn't have its share of beauty, like Beersheba, but Greece just takes my breath away.

Living in Athens, well, those things are obvious, I guess. We lived there pre-Olympics, so the city itself was in a bit of chaos. While Athens itself didn't have a scenic aesthetic, the historical element was quite overtaking. Of course I could never get over looking up at the Acropolis, walking along, running an errand, and there it is, in all its ancient glory. But there was one site, underneath a bank building on Sophokleas, that actually had uncovered parts of the ancient city wall, the moat, and the road leading from Athens, complete with chariot tracks. That spot never ceased to amaze me, and I could sit there and look at it forever, placing myself on the glass over the road, imagining back 2000 years to the person who had left that track. Its a wonderful feeling, really, to tie yourself to someone from the past in that way.

The island of Kos has its share of all kinds of amazing things. Basically, anywhere you were on the island had an fantastic view of some kind, ranging from the nearby islands, Turkey, and the mountain ridge that ran through the island. If you got really high, from the village of Zia, you could see the whole world around you, or at least it felt that way. In downtown Kos you could find Hippocrates Plane Tree, a tree that has allegedly been around since the time Hippocrates used it as a quiet study area and a place to teach. It is a rather sad example of a tree, completely dead, its insides long since decayed. Yet, the link to history makes it extraordinary. The remains of a Roman market lie through the middle of the town, and a castle stands guard along the sea. And we can't forget the ruins of the Asklepion, the ancient hospital.

Better still is the area where we live now. A tiny village on the side of Mt. Olympus, Litochoro has the most spectacular views of sea and mountain. Living here, it is perfectly understandable while the ancients placed the gods on this mystic mountain, the peak almost always covered in a misty fog. It is easy to think you feel the breath of Zeus when the harsh winds blow across the village. Every day, as I drive down the main road to pick up my husband from work, I am awed by the sight of the sea as I go down, and by the mountain as we go back up. It is a gift to live here, and as if the gods had granted it, I feel truly blessed.

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