Not everyone I know knows that we are going on this trip. Everyday someone new learns about it, and asks me why we’re doing this and how it came about. It seems that every time I answer, I have have a new reason. The idea of bringing the kids to Greece to live was planted about two and a half years ago, when my mother and I were in Galaxidi, Greeece, cleaning out my grandfather’s childhood home. My mother’s cousin, Argyris, had passed away the year prior, and the house had been left to her. She made one trip the year before with my sister to begin the paperwork, pay the taxes, and clean the house. Unfortunately they ran into one obstacle after another, so another trip had to be made. When my mom and I arrived the following year, we realized that the key to the house was still in America! We tried to get another key from the police department, but, again, things aren’t that easy in Greece. Our lawyer told us try to get into the house through a window. We were there for only 5 days and had a lot of work to do; waiting for the paperwork to get the key wasn’t an option. As my mom and I tried to pry open the windows, a little old Greek lady, who lived two doors down, walked up to us, carrying a 10 foot ladder. Although she spoke no English, and our Greek was rusty, she was more than happy to help us break into the house! My mom and I spent the next 4 days hauling out trash, sorting through items to donate, and trying to tidy up the small home. Our new found friend, Georgina, was an invaluable resource, bringing us brooms, buckets, and water. On the last morning, we sat the small table in the kitchen, with the window and doors open, looking out at the sea, just as Argyris, had done most days of his life. Georgia appeared at the door with a bottle of cold water. We got down three small glasses and sat there in silence. The breeze was blowing, and other than the sound of the water, there was a peaceful silence in the room. That’s when I thought, “I would like to live here.”
Two weeks to go and more to do than hours in the day. Sorting, shopping, organizing, planning, packing, appointments, visiting, along with swim meets, packing for camp, working, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, and refereeing the kids arguments. I just keep reminding myself that after these 14 days I will have a whole new life with a lot less on my plate and a lot more relaxing ahead. For now, my life looks like this.
Yesterday I finished all of the “offical” paperwork. I now have more money invested in translations, notaries, Apostle seals, birth certificates, and marriage licenses, than I spend in a year on clothes!
The countdown calendar on the sidebar finally switched from number of months to number of days. We’re down to four weeks from today. That’s four more Wednesday 5:45am pump classes, four more Sunday mornings for church, four more Sunday morning runs with Tricia, and soon it will be three more. Then two. Then the last. Pretty much it’s all real now. I feel it a lot. And I’m scared it’s not going to happen the way I envision. If you’ve been reading the headlines or ever watch the news, you’ll know that the economy in Greece is at its worst and the political climate isn’t much better. I read in the paper today that if one particular party wins the election this Sunday (the second election in six weeks they’ve had to hold), then Greece will be living in financial conditions that will compare to, if not be worse than, post World War 2. What was it like then? My father was born in Ikaria during World War 2. German soldiers, who were then replaced by Italian soldiers, occupied the island and many people died of starvation. I recently read that although it is unknown how many people died on the island, more than 100 peopled died in the village of Karavostamo alone (the village of my paternal grandmother and the village I will be living). My grandmother had to escape those conditions in the middle of the night. With three young children in tow and a few others from the village, in the middle of the night they left on a row-boat and paddled to Turkey. My father commented recently how interesting it is that history repeats itself. My grandmother left American to visit Greece and had three children over there when the war broke out. Her husband was working in America and wasn’t with her. Now, here I am, heading to Greece, to the same island, with three children and a husband working in America. I can only hope and pray that what is happening in Greece currently won’t affect our trip and won’t cause us to cut it short.
And as a follow-up to Seals. On Monday night of this week, I drafted a sample of the letters I need from the school district–a letter that they were having so much trouble creating. At 11:30 p.m. I emailed it to the Assistant to the Superintendent. At 7:45 Tuesday morning I had a message in my inbox saying that the letters were completed, and I could pick them up as soon as the Superintendent signed them. By 2:30 that afternoon, I was pulling out of the district office parking lot, waving the “golden tickets” in my hand. That’s another check in the completed column!
First panic attack…of which I am sure there will be many more! In order to make this trip last the full year, many pieces need to fall into place. One of them is getting the kids enrolled in the village schools. The thing I have to check off of my list today is getting “official transcripts” of the kids’ school records. The schools in Greece want a document with the grade finished and the subjects taken, with the official seal from the school, translated into greek. And then, I must take that and get an Apostille Seal from the state government, verifying that the translation and documents are real. Did you follow all of that? Well, the elementary schools don’t have any such documents, so the secretaries at Nitrauer referred me to the district office. When I spoke with the third person there, she thought she might be able to get me answers. Shortly after we hung up, she called me back and sounded as pleased as punch. “Jackie, I spoke with the assistant to the superintendent and she said that what happens is that when the school that the students are enrolled in contact us, we will create a document like they need, with an official seal, and send it over to them.” At this point, my skin started to tingle. I think to myself, “How do I explain this?” As patiently as possible I try to explain that EVERYTHING in Greece needs an Apostille Seal from the government, and not only that, in order for me to enroll the kids, I have to have all of the documents translated into Greek. So I asked, “Are you going to be able to do that for me?” When she asked me when I was going to be leaving, I told her July 12th; however, I couldn’t have the schools request the documents when I arrive because EVERYTHING IN GREECE IS CLOSED IN THE SUMMER!!! The schools don’t open until September 1st. From the other end of the phone I heard a very soft, “Oh. Let me see what we can do.”
I know it will work out. I can be patient…but I only have so much time. Why can’t they just type up a letter, put the d@mn school seal on it, and give it to me? What do they think I’m going to do with it? Sell it on the black market?
An official seal