I left Santorini, Greece about a week ago, and already my adventures seem like a dream. The images that will always be clear are the sunsets from the deck of the soon to be bookshop of my dear new friends Tim, Chris, Craig, and Maria. Those images created the most amazing sense of peace I’ve felt for a very long time, quieted my soul for the short week that Wendy and the Bookshop Boys, as called by friends, let me join their family. I fell into place, baking bread, preparing the garden, scraping walls, and taking the paint off of window panes.

I was drawn to Oia in northern Santorini because my book said the sunsets were incredible, and I wanted to stay with a friend of a friend there. One day I went wandering alone along the skinny, winding streets of the town where houses are built into the caldera, into the lava cliffs. I saw a spot in the distance perfect for viewing the sunset and went there. I started talking to a man about a dog, and Chris yelled yasu! which means hello in Greek. Chris invited me down to see their project. A house that is so old, its been there about as long as the castle ruins next store. It will be a book store where people need to watch their heads in the doorways if they are tall like me. Its so old–the people were so small that to complete the bookshop, the people need to give hand care to every inch. A place for people to Be and do their work: art, writing, whatever. I was amazed by their ambition, their creativity.

Maybe Tim saw it because he invited me to come and help clear out the small patch of earth below the second deck. It may have been something in the way Tim looked at me. Or the general aura of the house along with their ambitious story, but they stayed on my mind. I had been traveling for one and a half months and was actually missing being able to work on something–anything real–and get lost in it. Like the way you do when you write or run. You just go and don’t have to think. So the idea of getting my hands in dirt and of helping people prepare land that they will be using appealed to me. I returned to the shop the next day to help Tim garden. He said if I wanted to stay an extra day I could crash with them. They were having a dinner party and inviting guests. It was a wonderful evening with a variety of character. Beforehand we walked to a house that one of the guests knew and asked for wine. Oh, amazing. You can tell its all-natural when the wine is served in 1.5 liter water and coke bottles. After plenty of delicious Greek food and conversation, they invited me to stay for a while.

It was a win-win situation. I got to stay on the beautiful island for longer and they got an extra hand with the window panes. Just listen to Bjork and work! It was a learning experience, seeing all the teamwork these young people are doing. Still wish I got to see the boat in place on the deck. Simply taking care of everything, getting advice, asking questions, and making things happen. During parts of the day, everyone melted away; writing, drawing, reading, thinking, cleaning, and Tim playing the violin. The girls always entertained by the intensity of the boys playing chess. Its a great place to Be because everyone is trying to become better. Learning Greek, reading, working, all of it. You can take a minute out of vacation to rebalance and smile. Help out. Buy a book or read one. Enjoy the company of good people, and watch the sunset. You wont be here forever.

I guess through traveling you realize that its all just Life. Nowhere perfect. But you appreciate what you see, the simple things, and the people who show you different ways to live. Work. Find your talent and run. If you cant find it, dig a ditch. *Remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Be for yourself so you can be for all the people. Be alone. When you go to Greece, think of taking a moment for the waves, for the wind, and for spending time with the Sunset. Encore as long as you like. There’s no rush.

-Ursala Garbrecht

Comments are closed.