It is difficult at the best of times to write about your travels and you always wonder whether it is possible to put things into perspective. In 2004 it was some 13 years since my return to the village of my birth. Prior to that I was fortunate to represent the Australian Defence force during the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Greece and Crete. During a lull in my official duties I managed to obtain approval for 24 hours leave of absence to visit my place of birth.
All that I can remember is visiting the village for a very short time, sleeping at my Aunt Aliki surrounded by her husband Uncle Chris and is brother Uncle Michael whom I had not seen since 1973. It was an emotional time but well worth the trip down and back even if it was only for a brief three hours. In the year 2004, my wife Yovanna and I returned to Greece and this time was able to spend at least 10 days in the village. I took advantage of my time by taking a myriad of photographs of the whole village including all the homes and the surrounding scenery.
My purpose for doing so was to retain as much as possible the old village structures and to capture as many of the villagers on film for posterity. A copy of all the homes were provided to the the Village committee that was catered for by its exclusive female members and another copy left with my Uncle Evyeni Rassias. 2004 was a happy time and wished that I could have afforded to stay longer and learn as much as I could about my place of birth, its people, local customs and their daily lives. Alas it was not to be and I would have to wait another three years to return. Since then I have managed to return in 2007, 2010 and 2013, each with the exception of the latter for a short duration.
In 2013, I returned with my aged father to reminisce and obtain a greater understanding of my birthplace. Luckily for me, my father gave me a thorough history according to his knowledge of the village, its surrounding countryside, aspects of what occurred during WW2 and the terrible aftermath of the Civil War. Dad and I were always at logger heads and fought tooth and nail throughout our life time. our trip to Greece proved to be no different with one exception. We ended up coming to an understanding and mutual respect for each other in our own way and both returned back home to Australia with a healthy respect for one another.
Now days when my father and I sit and chat we have something in common and are able to converse in a civil manner knowing the limits of each other. Both of us yearn for a return to the village, to our home that Mum and Dad built over the ruins of our original a home which was a stable for animals. During our two month sojourn I purchased the block of land adjacent to Mum and Dads from my cousin Helen and redeveloped it.
I had surveyors come and created plans according to the borders of old with a minor correction. I deliberately came into my block of land and ensured that I had village notaries around to witness that i had in fact gone into my own block of land and gave to my Uncle Evyeni additional land. I did this to stop any future disagreements arising over the land borders. Photographic and recordings of the borders and witnesses were taken for future reference, peice of mind and security. A new road was put in, the land cleared, fences erected, house renovated, new gates installed, gardens created, stone walls put in place and joined both blocks of land together.
By the time I return to the village all new developments would have settled and it will be possible to plant and grow vegetables for a short period. Luckily for us, my cousin Chris Glekas a retired policeman is looking after the home and land with full rights to enjoy the fruits of his labors so to speak. As time marches on and we grow old and weary we hope to return every year for a stay of six months especially during the Australian winter months. If not then our family and close kin will be visiting to ensure that the home and land is maintained.