I would never forgive myself if I backpacked Europe only to remember that Vodka tastes the same in most countries. Only one person I’ve met on the road has suggested that I travel to a city for its authenticity – not its nightlife. And with twenty-six days left until I arrive in London, I’ve come to believe that a booze cruise of the Mediterranean is a pathetic way to treat such an opportunity.
This morning I woke up dazed with an awfully blurry memory of the concert I had attended the prior night. In all honesty, every morning for the past week has begun in such a fashion. And foolishly on each of those mornings I believed that I was getting the most out of this experience. Who knows why, but this morning it felt empty.
The clubs and bars here are impressive, but are they truly Greece? Is it really worth it to spend in one night what could sustain me for a week elsewhere. And for what? A performer I could easily see at his next show in the US? I admit to being a fairly dramatic person, but this thought truly bothered me. Therefore, instead of allowing a hangover to dictate my morning, I bathed in a cold shower, retrieved my camera from the safe, jumped on the motorbike I had rented, and drove.
I wanted to see Mykonos. I wanted to eat real Greek food. I wanted to find a quite place to reevaluate my goals for this trip. The semi-resort I am staying at has tailored itself so acutely to my age groups vices that it took two days for me to realize that this is not what I came for.
After a half-hour of riding I pulled into a small grocery to purchased freshly made feta cheese (perfect and unpasteurized), a small bottle of olive oil, and some watermelon. And all of it cost the price of one Heineken from the bar at my hostel. Now all I had to do was find a quite place off the beaten path to enjoy my meal and think.
Within about 15 minutes of exploring the countryside I spotted a petit churched nestled into the side of a hill, brilliantly contrasting the arid landscape with its white walls and vibrant blue accents. I drove as close to it as I could, hid my bike behind a wall, and soon began walking across the overgrown fields. There was a sign that read “Beware of Dog”, but by the looks of it I think the sign may have outlived the dog.
The churched was crudely walled off with tall stacks of sharp rocks, but it didn’t seem like anyone was near. So I took a chance and scaled my way into the property to where I was soon enjoying my humble feast (there was a lot of feta).
It was sitting at that church that I realized sometime. “I may be staying on paradise beach, but this is definitely not paradise island”, I said aloud to myself. In fact, it is far from paradise. Mykonos is largely apocalyptic. An entire island that seems to have been rotting since the first boat tours landed years ago.
I’m not expressing disgust or moral aversion to what tourism has done to Mykonos – it is how the world works. This is simply a factual observation. For what I saw today was a lesson, a first hand experience of how the nightlife industry has left Mykonos proper to rust.
When someone opens a grocery store, it’s a benefit to a community – because everyone gets groceries. This stands true for banks, restaurants, auto body shops, and the list goes on. The reason being that whether it is someone inside or outside the community who runs that business, at the end of the day it provides a service for the local residents.
Mykonos was an agricultural area. I did not read this, I saw it. Miles upon miles of farmlands that now grow nothing more than tall weeds to comb the winds for trash. At one time life was centered on those plots of land – maintained and used by the locals. However the locals do not use the clubs that now sustain the island’s economy, though they do work at them. Thus, these businesses have monopolized the job market to provide a service that is unused to the island’s residents, leaving everything else to waste.
It is odd, driving around an island built from stones but decorated with DJ posters. Hardwell, Alesso, Bingo Players, Axwell, Avici – the faces of famous EDM artists were posted in thousands on every decrepit farmhouse, street pole, and trash gutter. And upon seeing these advertisement to the point of nausea, I realized that after my first night clubbing I had experienced modern Mykonos.
I’ve decided to leave Greece. While resting on the steps of my church I purchased a ticket to the holy land, and will be flying to Israel tomorrow. I’m not sure where I will end up after that…we will see.