Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tinos and The Greek Wedding

One of the great benefits of my job as a teacher is watching many of my favorite students graduate and become adults. Once they graduate from college, I consider them my peers and do everything in my power to dissuade them from calling me "Mr. Chen." Some of them find this the hardest part of maintaining a friendship and I settle for being called "Chen." The reason I mention this is because the main purpose of my trip to Greece was to attend the wedding of two students who I taught back at Lville. They both graduated in 1998, the year I left, however they didn't really know each other and become a couple when both were living in London these past few years.

The father of the bride was born and raised in a small village on the Greek Island of Tinos in the Cyclades group. Tinos is a mere 6km from its more famous neighbor, Mykonos, but it has not sold out to commercialism and the party scene. It has retained its agricultural and rural flavor. It is particularly known for its marble work.

Speaking of the father of the bride, he truly is an amazing testament to the American dream. As you'll see in the pictures, his town was tiny and remote. He joins the military, is in Athens, meets a girl from New Jersey and after two weeks they are engaged. He moves to the United States not knowing any English. Learns the language, establishes himself as a successful painting contractor and earns enough to put his two kids through an expensive private school and is now throwing a wedding for his daughter in his home village. So, all of you who criticize America and its values, it still is the ultimate land of opportunity.

So here, as you all have been waiting for, pictures of my three days on Tinos.

The rocky Greek isle of Tinos

The village of Isternia (the one on the hillside) at the northern end of Tinos. This photo was taken from the boat.

Many companies run boats, I choose the slow boat. It was the right call as many of those who took the high speed hydrofoil found themselves quite seasick. Boats that sail to the Cyclades now leave from the newer port of Rafina, which cuts down the trip by two hours (my trip was four and a half) if you were to leave from the main port of Pireus.

Many of you know I have a thing for ferries (just like Dr. McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy). I had to take this picture because of the TOTAL CHAOS that is embarking and disembarking passengers and cars onto Greek boats. You would think that after all these years they would figure out how to make it more efficient, and safe.

The largest "urban" area of the island of Tinos is, Tinos Town.

The second day on the island, we were treated to a bus tour of the island. Here's a view of Tinos Town from up high on the island.

All the little villages are charming and the great thing is that there are no dead ends. You can be sure that you walk down a path and that you'll have some option at what looks to be the end of the road.

These structures are called "dovecotes." I believe that the doves fly into them and then are trapped and eventually eaten by locals. Tinos is famous for the ornate dovecotes, of which there are over 700 on the island.

The highest point on the island is called Xoburgo, which translates to "out of town." Makes sense if you go back and read the name letter by letter.

When we got to Xoburgo, it was in the clouds and windy.

Five of us make the 20 minute climb anyway. On the left, Wylie C. (the groom) and on the right Alana K. (Lville '96).

The area surrounding the town of Volax looks to be a sea of rocks. Because of this, people just incorporated the boulders into the structures of the houses.

The wedding itself took place at the church in the town of Isternia. Greek Orthodox of course.

The view of the water and the beach from the church plaza.

As a signal that the events of the evening are to commence, the bride and groom who were housed in different locations in the town started shooting off rifles. Back and forth they went and things began.

A violinist and guitar player escorted the groom to the church. In tow were all the male friends, family members and any other male who wanted to join. The bride did the same thing with females.

We all follow the couple into the church.

We stood around in the church and witnessed the ceremony. It was all in Greek.

The parents of the bride.

The priest who conducted the ceremony which took about 45 minutes.

The most important moment of the ceremony is when the wreaths are put on the heads of the couple as shown here. Then they do a dance (or just walk) around a table three times as we in the audience threw rice.

The bride's family name as inscribed in a pillar to indicate they gave money for some restoration project in a former time.

Two cool people I met at the wedding. On the left, is a woman who I found out is the manager of "The Travel Bookshop" featured in the moving "Notting Hill". On the right, Isaac, who married an Lville grad who further confirmed for me that people who go to Harvard ARE smarter than the rest of us. The quality of conversation I had with him and the insights and ability to connect things was amazing.

The groom, his older brother (who I was a housemaster for at Lville) and myself.

The reception was held in the Isternia town plaza. The entire town was invited (and many of them showed).

Greek dancing. They apparently know one step and do it in a circle, but do it for hours on end. Yes, I learned it and participated.

The requisite picture of all those associated with Lawrenceville. Do I look to be a decade older than the rest of them?

On the day I left the island, my boat was one of the last to leave and I ran into the couple and we got to chat for a half hour. It was the first and only time I got to talk with them together. I thanked them for inviting me and wished them the best of luck. And like every good Greek, I wished them that their first offspring be masculine!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice photo story. In past two months you attended two very unique and beautiful weddings in two different part of world. We are very happy for you having such a wonderful experience. Mom and Dad