A Romp with Antiquity
By Christie Seeley
Some years ago my daughter and I were invited to a baptism on the Greek Island of Paros. Her friend’s one year old daughter was receiving her Greek Orthodox sacrament having already celebrated in her grandfathers homeland of southern India. The ceremony was to take place in the exquisite Byzantine church of a Hundred Doors filled with weathered beams and impressive icons of silver and gold. The original structure dated back to the year 326.
My assumption was that such a traditional event in a remote place like Paros would be a very conservative affair. I was soon proven wrong. I was amazed as I met the colorful family and guests, finding myself surrounded by a very sophisticated group of the glamorous young artist friends of the couple from New York. The colorful members of the father’s once left wing activist family were also a surprise. They were important players in the 1960’s during the revolutionary movement portrayed in Costa Gravas’ wonderful film Z.
The god mother, owner of a boutique in Mykonos, wore a very brief white dress with black detail, the essence of Greece and the sea, and the grandmother wore a diaphanous flowing retro design in pale grey. The great grandmother played the music as her young “comrade” sang and danced for us in the open air cafe where the party was held. The guests whether European, Indian, Greek or American astounded us with graceful, poetic moves on the dance floor.
The island itself, a three to five hour ferry trip from Athens, was sparsely populated. Known as the poor man’s Mykonos, it was dotted with simple white dwellings adorning the rocky hills leading down to the shore. My room in the more modest of the two hotels in the area was sparkling white, spartanly furnished, with one large window looking over the perfect blue of the Aegean Sea. Two cot like beds, a small painting and a mirror imparted the feeling of an ancient monastery, perfect for reflection. I loved it!
As far as hospitality was concerned, no corners were cut. The father met fishermen at the market to purchase the freshest of fish. At one meal there were four different courses of four distinct varieties from the sea all served with great simplicity flaunting their freshness and flavor. Wine flowed freely and the atmosphere at the simple outdoor restaurant near the port was absolutely charming.
My experience was the stuff dreams are made of. It was as if I had been transported to another planet filled with enchantment! Maybe I had.