A Teal Window
(Yassas from Greece! My friend Steph Barnhart and I are currently traveling through Turkey and Greece and want to show you some of the awesome things we see and experience. The writing is Steph's. The photos are mine. Enjoy!)
The worn, silver ring – purchased last year in Thailand – clinks slightly against the rusted metal as his right hand clutches the latch. Zach had passed his Sony to me so he could wriggle the tight bar from its hinge. No give. He pushes up on the window harder, dust floats off into air, abandoning its longtime resting place.
We were trying not to make noise; unsure, still, if we were allowed these trespassing privileges.
All we wanted to do was open the window.
Five minutes ago, we had been standing outside of this dilapidated building, our attention captured by the donkeys and their owners, selling rides to folks like us with backpacks and cameras. We followed the sound of the donkey’s bells around one of Thira’s narrow, curving streets to find eight men looking up at us.
“For you! Donkey ride, 20 Euro!” they said, standing in front of the Magic Sunset Pool Bar.
It was evident that the space hadn’t been a pool bar for some time. Now, it acts as the starting point for the donkey ride down to the Old Port. During high tourist season, the mules take 30 trips a day up and down more than 400 stairs – an “authentic Greek experience” for cruiseshippers and Santorini passer-throughs.
We shook our heads at the donkey tenders, dressed in purple button downs and jeans, a few of them lying down on the dirt in the shade of the Magic Sunset. Instead of snapping a few photos of the donkeys, decorated with colorful, beaded bridles and worn-in saddles, we lingered, distracted by our window.
For a few days, we’d been looking for it. Some window with a modest level of character and good color. We needed an icon for our latest project; THEE window that would serve as the centerpiece for a travel blog we wanted to start. And there, on the East side of the old pool bar, it was waiting for us. It’s teal shutters framed by a soft yellow trim stood out from the burnt orange building front. This was our window. But it was closed.
So we began to creep around the group of donkey herders, searching for the best way to get inside. Ignoring, now, the commotion of tourists getting off and on the donkeys, exchanging Euros for rides, the noise of the ships arriving at the port below, the strange looks from the lounging men.
After winding around the back of the building, we found an entrance and climbed some stairs to the room with the window. Yellow scaffolding and piles of rubble were stacked in corners, rusted hardware and old wooden frames strewn across the floor. Donkey bells, laughter, still audible.
And now, it wouldn’t budge. Zach brushes a spider web to the left. We didn’t want to break anything, feeling still a bit stealthy for being in there in the first place. The scaffolding made us believe that someone was renovating, maybe, or at least trying to sell the property.
With a final push using both hands, Zach released the latch. Slowly, he pressed the right pane out, gently, avoiding noise or sudden movement. We looked at each other, and went back out the way we got in.
Back in front of the building, a new group of donkeys had arrived. A friend of ours who had volunteered at Kamari’s dog and donkey shelter told us that, usually, donkeys live to age 60. But these ones are often exhausted at 30, well before normal, from their daily cascade. Most owners ditch the mules by tossing them off a remote cliff. Dozens of the animals visible now from our vantage point above the stairs.
We spent 20 minutes photographing that small opening in a deserted building. It’s true: we might have chosen to ride a donkey, or watch others ride them, or photograph others riding them, or make friends with those men, or even just sit and experience the sea-salted air while gazing out at the Mediterranean. Zach might have chosen to aim his camera at handful of stunning subjects during that time at the Pool Bar, but we narrowed our attention, intimately focused on our teal, freshly opened window by the sea.