An American in Santorini
Jeanne Fryman is from California, USA and was living and working as a speech pathologist on the Jicarilla Apache indian reservation when she decided to move in Santorini, Greece.
Many people from the USA visit our country for holidays. Why does someone coming from a country like the USA decide to live in Greece?
J.F.: I first came to Santorini in 1984. I arrived at the old port and when I got to the top I looked out at the caldera and felt like I was home; I felt a total sense of familiarity and serenity. I returned for visits in 1985, 1987 and 1988 and then decided to move here in 1989 on the 4th of July, my true Independence Day. I must confess I never thought I would be here this long, but the life I made here suited me more than the life I had in the US. Also, I must acknowledge that my job has been a significant factor in my life in Santorini. I have worked in Tropical Bar for most of the 29 years that I have been living here. Steve Fotinelis established his bar 35 years ago and has maintained a relaxed and friendly venue through all these years; an incredible legacy that his wife continues to preserve and advance. I have a beautiful “office” with a stunning caldera view, which allows me to meet people from all over the world. I am very proud to be a part of the Tropical team.
Has Santorini changed since you came to the island?
J.F.: Oh yes. Changes for the good and some not so good. Frankly, Santorini has lost its traditional charm. Although we have the unique scenery of the caldera etc., globalization and the expansion of the local economy have resulted in a style conscious environment. On the other hand, it also
means better access to technology and overall modernization of services, which is definitely a positive change.
What do you miss from your home country?
J.F.: Mostly my friends and family. I find the life there far too consumer driven and homogeneous. In my opinion, the houses, the cars, the malls etc. are generally too big and lacking in individuality. I do miss the infrastructure: good roads, designated parking, regular rubbish removal, underground utility lines and a general cleanliness.
How important is nutrition in the overall quality of life? Do you believe that Greece has an advantage on that over foreign countries?
J.F.: Nutrition is key to all aspects of life and Greece definitely has advantage in that area. We have much better and affordable access to fresh foods and excellent olive oil. I do worry about the growing market for pre-prepared foods and fast food outlets. Unfortunately, as our lives and our visitors demand more of our time, these “conveniences” can sometimes be a necessary option.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of living on an Aegean island?
J.F: For me, the advantages are a greater sense of community and to some degree, less stress. I would say the disadvantage is less access to cultural events, concerts and more expensive goods.
What can be done to improve the quality of life in Greece and especially in Santorini?
J.F.: I think this depends on where you live, so I will only answer with regard to Santorini. Obviously, improved infrastructure is essential, not only for tourism, but for the community in general. Rubbish dumping laws should be strictly en-
forced to encourage a sense of pride in our communal environment and not just in our own yards and houses. Also, there is a growing problem in regard to affordable rentals for residents. It has become increasingly difficult to find an apartment or house for rent due to the expansion of Airbnb. This is personal for me as I am being kicked out of my house which I have lived in for almost 16 years. Therefore, my quality of life at the moment is diminished by the prospect of being homeless, and I am not alone. There are many people facing the same situation, which affects business owners who are unable to find staff due to the housing shortage. Perhaps changes to the regulation of construction & rentals is in order.
Do you believe that responsible and sustainable tourism is the answer to the problems? How can it be achieved?
J.F.: Definitely! I would say that anything is possible if the will and the forethought exists. How can this be achieved? I would say that foremost, we need good community planning favorable to local residents and tourist population. I think such planning should keep in mind that more is not necessarily better where tourism and transport issues are concerned. If we are determined to have people visit our small
piece of paradise, we need to make sure we have the necessary infrastructure, efficient/safe transportation and an adequate labor force to assure that their holiday experiences are positive. This is a must for all tourists, not just the luxury crowd. Also, the expansion of niche tourism related to cultural studies and events, athletic activities (such as hiking, yoga, cycling and kayaking) and ecology would be a positive development for both tourists and residents.
INTERVIEW with Jeanne Fryman