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Maria Helena Ana Lurantos

Seven days and a thousand emotions

I travel to Greece every year but somehow, I had never managed to find enough time to visit Kythera, my father's island.
That is until September of this year when I finally fulfilled my wish!
From the moment the little plane landed in the short landing strip of the airport and I got the best glimpse of old Tsirigo, I felt a sense of belonging that is still hard to explain for me.
But even more so, when Panayotis, the owner of the only car rental office at the airport asked me for my last name and after a long exclamation, he declared categorically:
Lurantos??? Aaaaahhh, oste eisai dikya mas! [=so you are ours!!!!]
Needless to say, my husband could barely hide his astonishment at this official proclamation of me as a Kytherian after only five minutes of having landed on the island for the first time in my life!
But that was hardly the only astonishing thing he witnessed during our stay.
For, even though most of the islanders are quite used to meeting Kytherians from the diaspora, my somewhat unusual background made me into an instant attraction for the locals.
Unlike most of the islanders, my grandparents did not emigrate to Australia but to Argentina.
And unlike most of the emigres' descendants, I speak Greek fluently with not much of a foreign accent.
And to add another twist, I am married to an Armenian and currently live in the US.
All that made me the object of endless inquiries, speculation and innuendo [not to mention all the free coffees and desserts I was rewarded with, in exchange for some tips on what to expect in the event that Greece ends up defaulting, like Argentina did in 2003] but also enabled me to get acquainted with those that stayed there throughout all the tough years, hear their stories, understand their pathos and especially, to feel I had now established a strong bond that will persist across the miles.
One thing I learned for sure is that this was certainly not our last trip to the island.
The amazing topography, the tastes, the aromas, the warmth and kindness of its people, have made me very proud of my Kytherian roots but have also made my husband declare himself "Kytherian by adoption". To Kythera, with love!

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