My underwear were blowing in the breeze. No, not the ones I was wearing. It was a whole line-up of them actually, a laundry line-up. Above and below the whitewashed roof I was perched atop, the cliffs sloped down into the sea, and villagers and aimless tourists wandered past, looking out at the beautiful Aegean, so customarily framed by my unmentionables.
It is what I love about this place, beauty and authenticity side by side. Each home or storefront on the main street of Oia, Santorini, is a little crooked, unbalanced, patched up or crumbling in corners, but I cannot take my eyes away. This place has been tended for meticulously for centuries, despite its flaws; they are what give it its charm. After speaking to a local hotel owner supervising construction of the building, I have a better understanding of the construction here on the island. He gives me insight into the Greek philosophy on art and building: ‘We have a crew here working on our new place. If they are not Greek, they do not understand it, we have to teach them. They are making everything perfect, like here and here,’ he motions to ridges on the wall beside us. ‘It is Greece. Perfect is not what we want.’
So aptly, the architecture and the people model the landscape. Wildness inhabits this region of the world. With a desert climate uncommon for the Mediterranean and Aegean, the few trees that are here are gnarled and hunched, like wizened peasant men and women. The low brush and cliff crags covered in patchy blankets of wildflowers do not adhere to the image of lush paradise, but paradise it is. A sun-bathed escape from boundaries and staying in the lines. I think those who travel to Greece find some of themselves here. Unlike the rigid balance revered in the Greece of antiquity, modern, wild Greece gives us a different balance. It shows us how beautiful we can be with our flaws, and because of them.
Of course, plugging my laptop into the converter only to have the light beside me blow out, or having to sacrifice my tendency to take long, hot showers (I have yet to meet the Greek water heater that can accommodate a conventional American girl shower) leaves something to be desired.
Still, I gladly trade those small conveniences for the ability to climb onto my rooftop and gaze at the beauty of the caldera, or my three minute walk to the supermarket with fresh local fruits and vegetables. And, most dear to me, the wealth of esoteric culture that lies within the boundaries of small islands dotted throughout the Aegean.