Sitting in the Cooya Caribu cafe in Skala Eressos, Lesvos, Greece. Unlike anyplace else on earth I could ever go, this is very much home. Ten feet away from where I’m sitting – sipping a frozen coffee drink and gazing out to the glistening Mediterranean – is my maternal grandmother’s house, where I would spend summers sleeping to the sound of the waves lapping at the shore, and eating incomparably delicious homestyle Greek food. (After she died in ’03, my uncle inherited the house. Sigh.)
But the greatest connection I have the place, in terms of per-capita relatives, is through my father. He grew up here, as the second son of a relatively well-off farmer and sheep herder. His older brother inherited the business, so at the age of 25 he set off for America to study engineering at NYU. Every time I come here I meet a new relative. Five minutes ago I met the one for this trip – my father’s cousin’s wife. As it happens, my father’s cousin is also the godfather of my mother’s brother. Confused? Yeah.
OK, off to meet the gang from New York (Michele, Henry, Lissette, Andy and Scott).