Photos are amazing! In an instant, a moment in time is captured and preserved thereby giving memories a tangible form. Although the pictures don’t evolve, the slow march of time changes how we see and feel about them. As our trip to Paros comes to a close, the way I view certain pictures has changed significantly.
To understand that change, I’ll first weave the tale of a simple, evening adventure during a typical late-night dinner on the island. Our island friend, Markos, had cheekily set-up one of our friends on a “date” with some random girl. It was a very fun, spur of the moment incident but once all of the confusion was sorted out, friendships over dinner were formed. We learned she was only visiting for a couple more days but we managed to show her all the fun Paros had to offer. The openness of the island was seeping into my actions and changing my viewpoints. Never in my life would I have imagined we’d make a new friend from an on-the-fly date. Another surprising incident occurred when we were helping Markos set tables at his restaurant. He was pretty busy so he asked me if I could run a quick errand to a convenience mart. Of course, I was happy to help a friend in need but there was a slight problem. He was sending me to a part of town I was unfamiliar with and, according to Markos, the shop owners “didn’t speak a lick of English”. As my self-doubt and anxiety swirled, Markos reassured me that I could do it. Despite everything, I did do it! It was a bit tricky trying to communicate with my very limited knowledge of the Greek language and yet, I managed to complete the errand with a sigh of relief. To my surprise, I can now add, “errand boy in a Greek restaurant” to my resume.
An additional, peculiar event transpired on our last day off. I was on a hunt for Paros art pieces as gifts for friends and family. Specifically, I was in the market for something related to dogs. Being as unfamiliar as I was with art side of Paros, I consulted my good friend, Giorgos. His bakery is situated within the confined walkways of the town so I imagined he would be very knowledgeable of all the inner business dealings. He pointed me in the direction of an artist friend of his and off I went on my own adventure. When I reached his shop, I found art with cats, donkeys, and even bugs, but no dogs. I explained my dilemma to the owner of the store and he led me along the winding streets to another artist friend. Over the course of the afternoon, I continued my wild goose chase all through the enclosed streets jumping from shop to shop, sometimes being led by shop owners, and other times just bumbling around by myself. Although with each attempt, the ability to obtain some art piece related to dogs became more distant. I did in fact get to meet some very interesting shop owners. All of them were incredibly nice and insanely passionate about their craft. They made wandering around the wild streets of Paros fun! Eventually, I found the perfect dog-related gift.
Much like my study abroad trip to Paros, each of these strange adventures were so much more than I had actually anticipated. What was so unfamiliar a mere 18 days ago, is now commonplace. I awake each day expecting something remarkable to happen. Fortunately, these moments were captured on Facebook, as one of the requirements for our study abroad trip is to take and upload at least five photos each day. All of these stories were captured in photos but the meaning seems so different to me now even though the “time hop” span is very short. What was strange and different is now something familiar viewed from a different angle. Although the photo contents remain the same, my perception and individual growth define what I now see. For me, there’s love, clarity, and family within all my photos. Who knows what I’ll find in them next?
Written by Jack Salazar