ZLR Betriebsimperium is delighted to receive stories written by its readers. We are happy to post a wonderful text written by Dutch writer Cathy Lewin.
As you may see below, Cathy is also a maker of jewellery unfolding new charming stories on symbols, images and conepts that constitute Greece’s imaginary, identity and living culture.
Do you have your story to share on Greek culture, jewellery or art? A story that would enrich our artist community? Do not hesitate to e-mail it to email@example.com (maximum 450 words) along with a couple of credit-free, on focus pictures. All mails will be answered.
“Water bij de ouzo (Water with the Ouzo) by Cathy Lewin:
Greece has always been a passion for me, ever since the Colonels Regime was overthrown in 1974 by a Democratic Elected Government. It is there that the story begins…
After this first, far too long and humid sea-crossing from Italian Bari to Patra on the Peloponnesus I cannot wait to find solace in the coolness of the sea.
I bathe in the crystal clear waters of the Ionian sea in waves that flow around me as harmonious as the sound of the language that I hear spoken, I float…and while doing so I realize that I have come home at last. Sometimes one finds oneself somewhere for the first time and realizes that one has been there before.
Intellectually one cannot grasp it. It belongs to the realm of the subconscious, coming up to the surface just for an instance, to disappear soon again into the vast reservoir of the past.
It is a phenomenon that many of us recognize yet that could go back to origins that house deep into past generations. A genetically passed on source of Passion.
With this awareness my passion begins, intensely and without an end in sight. I learn to speak the language and I learn to make up any excuses to travel off to that part of the world, again and again…yet never does it seem to be enough.
My longing for those scents, hues, sounds, rhythms, perspectives, dimensions, atmospheres and subcultures…are simply not to be captured in units of days or weeks.
When we – my then husband the veterinarian Doctor and I – eventually travel off to that part of the world for good, my passion is gradually side-tracked (but more about that later).
In the beginning all seems perfect.
The Doctor announces that the (fiscal) climate in The Netherlands is not any longer having his sympathy as is the social control in the provincial town where we then happen to live.
Then one day my eye catches an advertisement in one of the too many trade magazines that find their way into our letterbox. It is a Medical monthly and under the heading Lanterns I read the following line: – Three hundred years old house for sale on remote Greek island.
The words sound like magic to my ears.
When the meanings of the words have sufficiently sunk in I show the advert to the Doctor who surprisingly enough is sooner taken by it than I anticipated. He begins to philosophise: what if this island hasn’t got a veterinarian?
We discuss the subject endlessly and a few weeks later – the Doctor is overcome by his workload – I travel off by myself direction island to do the preliminary investigations.
During the eighties of the last century Kythira is still a quite untouched island – one thing that the island and I have in common in those days. Two hundred and eighty square kilometres of breath taking countryside, tear-dropped from a Peninsula that possibly is even more breathe taking: the Peloponnesus.
Poverty has driven its local population to the other end of the world, making Melbourne and Sidney their new home ground.
The seas around the island are famous for their unpredictability, feared by pirates in times past who referred to the island as Tzérigo. A journey to the island takes one back to its rich history. The Cretan era, followed by the Phoenician occupation – when Kyhtira was called Porphyra, named after the granite type porphyre found on its coasts – on to the Greek, the Roman, the Byzantine, the Venetian and the British periods of occupation. One falls easily victim to nostalgia when walking through the exotic remnants of Antiquity.
The often dreamy atmosphere couldn’t be captured better than by the French painter Antoine Watteau in his l’Embarquement pour l’Ile de Cythére who, according to legend – never set foot on Kythira’s shores but
painted from his mind’s eye. A thinly populated island on the edge of the Ionian and the Aegean Sea, birthplace to Aphrodite who arose from the foam of the waves in the bay of Kapsali.
This forgotten island, so overflowing with past cultures, hence bridging the past firmly with the present, fascinated me more than words could ever tell. In a wider perspective the island is situated on the Cultural Fault where East and West meet – the Greek tradition with its Western influence and the Bronze-coloured glow of the East, tantalisingly near.
I simply had to be there.
When I return from my journey words lack to give the Doctor a rational account of the island. Yet the Doctor is not particularly waiting for encouragement. From my somewhat woolly story one thing stands out clear: the island hasn’t got a practising veterinarian. And that is for him and for our imminent future all that matters.
What I am now able to do after all those many years is to write the story down…and that is what follows after turning this page…
Amsterdam, September 2003
For a review of Cathy Lewin’s book “Water with the ouzo” in Nederlands, please click on the link below Water bij de ouzo
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