Today marks the end of our three-day weekend. Our day started at 8 am with breakfast at our hotel, Caldera Butterfly Villa in Santorini. The owner of the hotel is a petite Latina lady named Margarita. She took care of our taxi calls and recommended the best locations to watch the sunset and beaches.
Margarita and her first born moved to Santorini 27 years ago. She told me that her daughter would get bullied at school because of her skin tone. She touched my arm and pointed out that her oldest daughter is a little darker than me. “27 years ago, there were barely any immigrants here, yet alone Latinos”, said Margarita in Spanish. Margarita is from another island, Dominican Republic, that is home to many Latinos of different skin tones. Today, there are immigrants from Africa, Syria, and Albania in Greece. They landed in Greece because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean and for many immigrants Greece is not the final destination. They use Greece as a transit stop, many stay for a couple of months to gather enough money to move to another EU country.
The receptionist at the villa is Margaritas younger daughter, Joanna; she’s Dominican and Greek. She is 5 ‘6 , fair skin, and curly hair. She speaks Greek and English; she does not speak Spanish but calls her mom, “mami” in a Spanish accent. The way Margarita and her daughter hold a conversation reminds me of my mom. Joanna and I talked about the Dominican Republic; she was intrigued about all that I had to say about the island. My last study abroad trip was in the Dominican Republic. Turns out Joanna and I share the same birthday and were both the same age, we giggled at the coincidence and she requested to follow our Facebook page.
Around 10 am we headed to downtown Fira to shop, which is my favorite activity. I was intrigued by all the unique and colorful jewelry in every shop. I found a souvenir store that had a variety of items; it was a Wal-Mart of souvenirs. The items ranged from Christmas ornaments of donkeys and cats to miniature sculptures of Hera and Zeus, Santorini hoodies, soccer jerseys and pottery. I spent about 35 minutes gathering items for my family; I was able to use my friendly and charming skills to bargain for all my purchases. The area where I started my shopping spree was very calm and one could tell it was also catered to the locals of Santorini. My next stop was a shopping center that included all types of make-up brands from Mac to Clinique. I was captivated by their variety of Greek olive soaps and face creams… I only bought 6. I then met up with the rest of the group and took group pictures with the girls. We had a beautiful background of Santorini. On Saturday, Ashley decided it would be a good idea to take group pictures wearing flower crowns. We gathered to take pictures when a lady approached us and ask to take a picture with us. She told us she loved our flower crowns and we were all flattered by her request.
After our group pictures, I continued to shop and met up with the group for our taxi back to villa to checkout. Margarita suggested we take a mini bus to Kamari beach and arrange for the driver to pick us up at 2:15 to head to the port. We said our goodbyes to Margarita and Joanna. She reminded me once again to add her to our Facebook group and gave me a hug.
While on Kamari beach, some of us stayed at the beach and others headed for lunch at a Chinese restaurant. The owners were Chinese and our waiter did not speak English but luckily Jiachi was able to translate. After we were done eating, Osvaldo ran to us after he received our Facebook message indicated that the restaurant served spicy food. Jiachi told us that the fried rice tasted like the one he eats in China. I ordered sweet and sour chicken and fried vegetable rice, Jiachi ordered dumplings and fried noodles and beef, Shereyar ordered fried rice and Sichuan chicken, and Osvaldo ordered the spiciest meal, as always.
We enjoyed our time in Santorini, the shopping, the night view, the sunset, the food, the black sand, the people and atmosphere. I specially loved the diversity, as this is by far the most diverse place in Greece I’ve visited. If someone had told me I was going to meet a Latina business owner in Greece I wouldn’t believe them. The truth is that there is diversity in every corner and even in Greece, all it takes is a conversation between two people. I am happy I was able to meet Margarita and Joanna, and grateful Margarita shared her story with me.
Santorini is not just beautiful scenery it has beautiful locals and a great atmosphere.
Our visit to Santorini was filled with laughter, confusion, happiness and even tears of joy.
XOXO- Cynthia Morraz