My experience on Paros has been better than I had expected it to be, even after having such elevated expectations from the discussions I had with Albert and Thomas before the trip. I have friendly interactions with strangers back home, but not as frequently as on Paros. I feel like I have been friends with some of the local business owners for a long time after speaking to them for the first time. The significance of this experience belongs to how frequent it happens in this culturally beautiful location. Although we are far into our stay here on Paros, I wake up every day just as excited as the day before to see what I can make of the day on the island.
One thing I have found interesting and quite pleasant while being in Paros is how local business owners are open to haggling. However, it seems unnecessary to haggle in the way that we are familiar with in America. The haggling in most of my encounters happened naturally, and all I had to do was be friendly. By the end of the conversations I have had with multiple vendors, they had haggled themselves down anywhere from 10%-25% off the product that I intended to buy just by having an enjoyable conversation. This general appreciation for great interactions with other individuals ties into an experience that a small group of us had encountered during my personal project.
A small group of us drove to an olive tree farm in a town called Kostas to record an interview with Pandelis Zoumis, a farmer of many varieties here on Paros. He grows tomatoes, figs, olives and many other crops. He also makes his own wine, cheese, and olive oil as well. What we expected versus what we encountered on this farm could not be compared to anything else I have found on this island so far. As we sat down to a beautifully placed table beneath a fig tree and mulberry tree, enjoying the tomatoes, olives, figs, cheese, homemade bread, olive oil and three types of wine that were brought to us with unspoken hospitality, Pandelis began to share his views with us. As we thanked him and complimented his delicious crop, he told us that if a person has things and keeps them to his/herself, they never have anything. He then went on to say that if one shares what one has with others, it comes back to you and you will have so much more. This is one aspect of Greek culture I find tied into interactions with the inhabitants of the island every day. The vendors of the island have given me, and our entire group at times, discounts at restaurants and local shops when they did not have to. Giving more and taking less, or nothing seems to be an underlying part of Greek culture.
Interaction is of high value here on this beautiful little speck of the Earth, where people understand that there is a larger purpose to serve in life than consuming everything we come across like barbarous savages. The people of Paros have rich lives, in that they are not obsessed with having two cars. As Pandelis would say, “What is the need for having two cars? One car does the job. Why would you need two cars?” I can easily say that Paros has changed me and provided a perspective that I will never lose on my journey through life. Yamas!!!
Written by Joshua Patterson