Didn’t take too long – I started in May 2010 pulling together the vast amounts of paperwork needed for the application to buy the land. And here it is December 2011 – 19 months – this would be the warp speed pace of bureaucracy in Greece.
So, the paperwork has finally cleared and I can now sink my life savings into a tiny scrap of land in a country with an economy that is circling the drain. What the hell am I thinking?
Well, I’m thinking of turquoise seas and azure skies; of lovely friends I’ve made in my little village overlooking the Cretan Sea; of the smells of Easter lamb roasting on the spit and incense burning in the church. I am thinking of my generous and friendly neighbours who think I’m a bit dotty but harmless (what a coincidence – my neighbours in Canada feel the same way).
I am thinking of sitting in a waterfront taverna staring out to sea and pondering life’s questions; of dandling the taverna owner’s child on my knee while I sip a glass of wine in the country the grape was grown in.
I am thinking of a future in a country with a fascinating past. And I am thinking that if I didn’t do this, I would regret it the rest of my life.
Now the next feat of endurance is to apply for a building permit. My engineer, Kostas, has the building plans, the elevations, seismic surveys (gulp), topographical maps, knows where to site the house on the land for the best views and is ready to submit something like a few dozen different documents to the authorities. They tell me that it takes about four months to get a building permit. But it might take two weeks. Here we go again.
In the meantime, I am dreamily leafing through plumbing supply catalogues and agonizing over what kind of knobs I want on my kitchen cupboards. I feel a bit silly looking at seed catalogues and trying to decide where I want the jasmine planted or the orange trees so they don’t block that all important view.
Maybe I need to focus more on where they will put my septic tank and how high I need to build my stone wall to keep the goats out of my flowers (no, I am not making that part up).
In February I will travel back to Crete to go look at my patch of dirt. I’ll dream about where the excavators will start to dig and I’ll imagine the sounds of workmen pouring concrete and cutting marble tiles.
I guess in a country with a past as long as Greece’s, time is relative.