An Amer­i­can in San­torini

Santorini Traveler - - EDITORIAL -

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

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