When I was a kid, I never understood the appeal of going to the beach. Everyone always talked about how fun and beautiful beaches are, but my experience with the coast consisted entirely of wind blowing sand into your eyes and water that tasted awful as it tried to drown you in the depths of its murky soul.
That’s probably because every single time we went to the beach, a hurricane decided to show up and crash the party.
That visit to Charleston, SC when I was about 8 or 9? HURRICANE.
That visit to Panama City, FL when I was about 10? HURRICANE.
That visit to the coast of GA when I was about 11? HURRICANE.
That time when I was supposed to report to the AmeriCorps*NCCC base in Charleston in September of 2004? Arrival date delayed by FIVE HURRICANES.
I had started to wonder whether I was secretly a weather god and the hurricanes all just followed me around like devoted pets. Either that, or they were stalking me.
But then I went to Greece and experienced what it’s like to visit a beach on a nice day.
A day like this one:
Look at that water! It’s actually BLUE!*
Our professor, Carlo, is good friends with the owner of a beach bar on Komos Beach called the Bunga Bunga Bar. It wasn’t open for the season yet, but they let us hang out there anyway—which meant we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.
Komos beach worked wonders for breaking down barriers and really helping us all connect as a group. I really enjoy all of my coursemates, but I never really felt like we were a cohesive unit. We definitely weren’t close. But there was something magical about frolicking through the surf and sand that helped forge the friendships I’d been craving all year. I had a really interesting conversation with Carlo about how we both feel the program should do more to foster these relationships at the beginning of the program instead of the end. I truly believe it would have made for an even better grad school experience.
On May Day, our new Greek friends made us an epic feast at the Bunga Bunga. We had tzatziki, stuffed grape leaves, roasted stuffed vegetables, lamb, chicken, pork, spinach pie, baked aubergine, salads galore—I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. It was incredible. We ate and ate and ate, and then ate some more. After all the eating, Nikos serenaded us with his bouzouki and Dimitri and the village priest danced for us. The Greek people treat everyone like family, and their family gatherings are noisy, colorful, and so very fun.
After a day full of sun, water, and friendship, watching the sun set over the waves and the surfers was the icing on the cake.
Okay, Komos, you win. Now I can see why people like going to the beach.
And thank you for not inviting any hurricanes.
Θέλω να πάω πίσω στην παραλία!
* That was another thing I didn’t get as a kid. Everyone told me water was blue, but we lived in Georgia. Water is not blue in Georgia. It is brown. Brown rivers. Brown lakes. Brown ocean. Don’t tell me water is blue, you crazy adults! I ain’t stupid!