The final installment of my month of travel series…this work trip took place at the end of January 2017.
Last week I returned from a two-week tour of Greece. As neither student nor Greek-speaking administrator nor trip leader, I occupied the curious role as the bumbling program coordinator from another continent. Occasionally, I directed the videographer accompanying our group, but more often than not, I served as the noble tripod carrier.
I’d like to say that this was a trip of personal growth, but really it brought into relief all my limitations: my inability to adapt to situations where I have no control, my constant need for domesticity and order, and my plan to pack only practical clothing, which totally back fired for three reasons:
- I always feel like an idiot in white sneakers and a windbreaker that screams AMERICAN. However, I was delighted to be told that I had a Greek face on two occasions.
- Turns out what I packed wasn’t so practical anyway. What I needed was a proper winter coat and a totally waterproof ensemble. An extra pair of shoes wouldn’t have hurt either.
- Clothes are such an important part of identity making and projecting. It’s easy to forget who you are and want to be when wearing a 10-year-old gray fleece everyday.
So maybe this trip didn’t burst my bubble, but it certainly made me aware of it.
The trip was also such a humbling experience, because I got to observe the excellent work of a Greek colleague. With her help, I learned a little Modern Greek and got some insight into the perplexing Greek bureaucracy. Even with the right paperwork, you’ll always have to negotiate with somebody.
The whole time, I was secretly planning a return trip so I could enjoy the sites at a different pace. I especially want to revisit Crete, which totally blew me away with its natural beauty, delicious food, unusual tea, and spectacular white wines. No wonder the Minoan art is known for its depiction and celebration of the natural world.
Two last notes before I begin my photo-journal of the trip. We spent four nights in Crete, a night on an overnight ferry, four nights in the Peloponnese, and three nights in Athens. Our daily schedule looked something like this:
9:00-3:00 visit sites
4:00 lunch and free time
6:30 preview meeting