We were coming to the end of our travels in Greece, sailing from our secluded anchorage in Tilos, skirting along the northern coast of Rhodes, and arriving once again in Mandraki Harbor, where we had begun the whole thing. And I was already missing it. Both the good and the bad. Stolen plums, ouzo dreams, dormant volcanos, impossible stars, and gracious grandmothers in the kitchen.
Up until 2005, scuba diving was essentially illegal in Greece. In a country that boasts over 9300 miles of coastline, only about 62 miles of it was legal to dive, and that small portion was heavily guarded and restricted by the government. It made sense, really. With thousands of unexplored shipwrecks and literally entire cities submerged during ancient earthquakes, the Greek authorities were trying to protect antiquities from poachers and treasure seekers. That all changed in 2005, however...
Nisyros is one of the six currently active volcanoes in the Greek islands, and its signature as such is undeniable when viewed from above, with the whole island seeming to rise out of the Aegean only to crest at a distinctive circular rim before falling back down to sea level at the center of the caldera. And I wanted to be in the center of that volcano.
During our yacht tour of Greece, we arrived on the island of Symi to find a sophisticated yet charming town in this most unlikely locale.
The first stop on our sailing tour of the Greek islands was actually in Turkey, at Bozuk Buku, beneath the ruins of ancient Loryma. But first we had to find the boat.
I'd always wanted to visit Istanbul, that ancient seat of declining Roman dominance. That gateway to conquest for Persians, Turks, Muslims, and Christians alike. That historical terminus of the iconic Orient Express Railway. That fabled and vibrant modern metropolis that bridges the Bosphorus and reaches between worlds to join Asia to Europe. And here we were.
Of all the places I traveled as a kid, Greece was at once both the most memorable and the most regrettable. Memorable because of the rugged natural beauty, fascinating culture, and contagious congeniality of the Greek people. Those recollections that live in snapshots viewed through the fog of youth grown old. Leaning into the relentless headwind as we tried and failed to make port in Mykonos. An inappropriate joke told at the oracle site in Delphi. The smile of an olive-eyed Greek girl passing by on the pier. Regrettable because, at the time, I appreciated none of it.
Angela booked our adventure to Mumbai while we were in the car on a road trip. I didn't really understand what she was doing at the time. We often play the "where in the world" game while driving, and I honestly hadn't given India much thought as a potential travel destination until she announced that the tickets were bought. When I informed friends and coworkers that our next trip would be to India, the resounding response was an incredulous, "Why?" When I began planning the trip, the question that kept tickling my brain was, "Why *not* India?" It was never previously on my radar. Why was that? What had kept me from researching an expat life in this most beautiful, ancient, exotic country? Why was India a place I was reluctant to explore? In short, what did I fear?
Like so many Caribbean islands, Roatán is one of those places where retired millionaires, optimistic college dropouts, and struggling poets intertwine with the local population to create a culture that is at once endemically cosmopolitan, lazily industrious, and responsibly chaotic. The island's personality is built on a healthy Honduran foundation, but the influx of European, African, American, and Asian expats makes Roatán feel like a place out of time, caught somewhere between the ages of imperialism and information.
Angela recently wrote about her trip to Biltmore Estate with her mother as part of a series of excursions that they regularly take together, and I recently posted the latest installment of the annual Guys’ Dive Trip, this time to Grand Bahama with our son, Ben. We both shared our adventures in Australia with the whole Smith clan, and Angela’s father, Dan, hit the highlights on his travels with the U.S. Navy. As Angela and I continue this exercise of blogging about our travels, we have come to realize that the wanderlust is, perhaps, genetic. Or, if not part of our actual DNA, then the need to travel is, at the very least, something that has been instilled in us through word and deed.