Monday, June 28, 2010

Fire Burning, Fire Burning on the Dance Floor

Yea, I jumped this fire. No, seriously, I did! I went right through it.

The men in the boats bringing in the fire to light the bonfire.
My shrimp pasta had the WHOLE shrimp including the head.

The girls at dinner. Our table was on a dock over the water.

The sunset at dinner on Midsummer Night's Eve.

Today, we did service learning on the beaches picking up trash. This class so far is basically a tour of all the best beaches in Paros. We travel to each beach, pick up trash and take swim breaks. This helps the community and we have a great time. Later we’ll work on the marpissa paths.

Every time I think I have had the best dinner or seen the most gorgeous sights and beaches in the world, Greece surprises me with something even better. The Ferangas beach today was gorgeous. My new favorite sound is the crystal clear waves hitting the pebbles and rocks on the beach. The foamy waves crash onto the shore, roll the rocks back into the ocean and create a soothing rattling sound. At the Ferangas beach, the bartender gave us free frappes in appreciation of us cleaning up the beach. At another beach, a woman stopped and asked questions about who we were? Where we were from? Was this our countries idea to send us here on our holiday to help clean Greece? The hospitality and generosity of the Greeks continues to surprise me.

We returned to the aliki beach, where we cleaned earlier, to celebrate Midsummer Night’s Eve. All over Europe, there were celebrations. On Paros, they celebrate wth fire jumping. You jump the fire three times for good luck in the next year. The celebration started out with a traditional Greek dance. The first one was a syrtos. This dance is in a circle. The person on the end has their hand on their hip. The second type of dance was a ballos. This is a “couple’s dance.” The circle breaks up and groups dance together.

After the dance, there were boats that carried red, shining torches onto the beach to symbolize it was time to lit the bonfire. After the bonfire was lit, the real festivities began. All of the kids were very enthusiastic, and crowded around the fire. There was no hesitation as the little boys hurried to jump the biggest fire. After a good amount of the younger boys went through, my classmates and I gained the courage to try. I was slightly worried looking at the flame (see above) but it was an adrenaline rush! It wasn’t even overtly hot. It felt like you walked by a fireplace. I continued jumping my three times for good luck and cheered on my friends. Also at the celebration, in typical Greek fashion, was food and drink. They even handed it out to the people free. There was the best octopus I have ever had. Granted I have only had it once before, but it was pretty good. I also had a dish of shrimp spaghetti at the restaurant nearby. Also at the festivities was soma, a type of Greek moonshine. After experiencing the night’s festivities, I felt like I was beginning to get a view into the real Greek lifestyle.

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