I was not born here in Corfu. I come from Greek parents who emigrated to Canada in the early 60s. My parents raised me to be passionate about life.
To feel laughter in my belly, to hunger for my mother’s luscious Greek recipes, to get excited when visitors arrived, to listen to Greek music while my aunts and uncles danced in the living room. To love to travel. All my senses were awakened by these experiences.
I often visited the island as a child with my parents and sister. My father owned a property in Barbati, a lovely house with gardens so close to the beach. Winter seemed to be just the time until my next holiday to Corfu.
Then as a young adult, on one of these infamous vacations, I met and later married a Corfiot who enticed me to make the huge decision to leave what I knew as a great life in Canada and fly thousands of miles across the ocean to live in my holiday fun place, permanently.
20 some years later I think back to the time I made the choice to come to Corfu forever. I grew up in a somewhat different lifestyle, in a continent across the sea and I often get asked the question whether I have ever regretted my decision to come to this island to live.
My answer is definitely….
And my 5 senses will tell you why……
A memory I have strongly in my mind is the moments we would arrive at my house in Barbati. My Corfiot family and friends would always be excitedly awaiting to greet us. It was hugs and kisses all over the place.
This delightful feeling that you were really missed by a strong but warm embrace or a sloppy kiss on both cheeks from loved ones is something that characterizes the Greeks.
Another thought that comes to mind when I think of my sense of touch in Corfu is the feeling of the crystal, clear water on my body as I slowly enter the sea. How refreshing! I think I have tingling goosebumps on my skin already just thinking about it.
My mother and father taught me to eat good food. There was no fighting about whether I would be tasting something new or not. I was expected to eat it all. My taste buds were trained to appreciate every Greek flavor in the book.
Living in Corfu has reminded me of how lucky I am to be able to enjoy fresh local produce. There is nothing like biting into a wonderfully ripe tomato from your garden in the summer. Or the taste of “Horta”, edible wild leafy greens, growing under the olive trees in the groves. With a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, this dish is the epitome of healthy eating.
The flavor of traditional sauces and “Pites”, pies, made with fresh products and the hand of a “Giagia”, grandmother, is always unforgettable. These thoughts spark a smile on my face every time.
The taste of local village wine. I always heartedly laugh when I am welcomed in someone’s home and served from their own barrels. Every proud village winemaker will claim they have made the best wine of all and you will not get away without a taste of it. It just makes you feel like part of the family.
I salivate just contemplating all the gorgeous tastes and flavors in Corfu. Olive oil from your own groves, Greek coffee or ouzo in the local Cafeneion, Pastitsada cooked by your aunty, fresh fish delivered regularly by the fisherman and so much more….
You will never forget breathing in Corfu air. Every season is different.
The Winter has a distinct smell of the clouds. You just know when rain is coming. Also, the smell of wood-burning in fireplaces and warming every household sends off feelings of comfort and bliss.
The Spring is delightful. Sweet smells of blooming wildflowers and the grass that grows at speeding rates. Even the sunrise smells different suddenly. It awakens every sleeping muscle in your body.
The Summer smells of glorious fun. The salt in the sea smells, the heat smells, even the people smell happy, if that even makes any sense, the wafts of yummy food coming out of the open kitchen windows. These are summer smells.
Autumn brings you back to nature. Walks in the mountain paths allow you to smell the wet soil and decomposing leaves. It reminds you of the beauty of rural life.
I believe this sense is most prominent for me of Corfu’s memories and sensations. Where to begin? Just to name a few, the sound of sparrows and swallows in their nests, stray cats outside of your window, children playing in the “Platies”, village squares, sounds of philharmonic bands playing in the cobblestone roads of Old Town, church bells ringing on holidays, interesting old tales from villagers who’ve lived in harder but memorable times, hums of ships docking at the port.
I could go on and on.
I left this sense for last because seeing is believing.
How many colors could I tell you I see every day? How many hues of green in the mountain? How many blue, pink, orange or grey in the beautiful sky? Do you know how many shades of blue the sea can have? I drive down the mountain and I always remember to stop to take it all in. I wonder if those who were born here, and this is the sight they saw every day, do they take it for granted?
I cannot express how lucky I feel to wake up and see this view every day from my balcony.
ONE MORE SENSE
I would like to cheat a little and add one more “sense”. Each sense is felt by various parts of the human body but all are run by the main organ – the heart….
I feel ardent LOVE for Corfu. It is the combination of all my 5 senses put together. These words are only a fraction of what I feel. You only know if you’ve embraced, savored, scented, listened, and seen fascinating Corfu.