The Long Road to Ithaca

Mountain Road, Ithaca

Mountain Road, Ithaca © 2014 Mufidah Kassalias

Ithaca is an idyllic island. The home of Homer’s hero Odysseus, Ithaca has become a metaphorical destination for many who consider The Odyssey, the epic poem penned in the 8th century BC, as a metaphor of our journey through life.

Just as Odysseus took ten arduous years to return to his homeland after the Trojan War, our own life journeys are often far more complex that we might anticipate. The journey to fulfilling each of our individual goals is both an outer and an inner one, frequently taking us along a long road peppered with obstacles and diversions. Odysseus reaching Ithaca is symbolic of reaching those goals set forth at the outset of our journey.

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An Autumnal Air

Shadow over Perachori

Shadow over Perachori, Ithaca © 2014 Mufidah Kassalias

The silver tips of the olive trees at the end of the patio are straining towards the harbour. An autumnal wind is blowing over Ithaca and memories of swimming in the warm Ionian waters at Sarakiniko feel suddenly distant now the sky is covered by a layer of grey cloud. The autumnal air is bringing the rain.

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Boats, Goats and an Octopus

Sarakiniko, Ithaca

Sarakiniko, Ithaca © 2014 Mufidah Kassalias

Last Saturday was my birthday, the first I’ve celebrated in Greece, the country where I would’ve been born had a group of army officers not overthrown George Papandreou’s government in the early hours of 21 April 1967. My mother, three months pregnant at the time, didn’t want to live under martial law and persuaded my father to go with her to Scotland, where I was ultimately born.

Twenty-one years later I finally visited the land of my conception. Outwardly I travelled alone, but was three months pregnant and carrying my own daughter. I stayed for a week with my father in Athens. Too short a time to build a relationship but long enough to know I wanted to return again to Greece, to spend significant time getting to know my other country, the language and its people. However, it was another eighteen years until I was to find myself on Greek soil once more but, as with my first visit, only for a week.

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Ithaca: A Greek Homecoming


Photo Credit: splindsay

I awoke this morning on Ithaca. The overnight storm had subsided and the air was balmy. We’re staying in a house on a hill for a few weeks and have gorgeous views over the town of Vathy which lies below. A handful of boats are moored in the harbour and a black car makes its way slowly around the harbour’s curve.

It feels good to be here after 29 months of travelling, a journey inspired by Sean’s and my shared desire to travel together. Greece is a key destination for both of us. For ages, I’ve wanted to spend considerable time in Greece, to get to know the country of my father and ancestors, and to connect with the Greek in me. Likewise Sean, who has for many years wanted to experience Greece, having studied ancient Greek and the Greek classics in graduate school. And, so, it feels particularly fitting for us to be on Ithaca, home of Odysseus and the island he took ten years to return to after the end of the Trojan war. Not only have we both held the dream and intention to come to Greece, Sean and I have been through a whole host of Odyssean trials since we began our travels in 2012.

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