We’d been sailing for a couple of weeks by this point – navigating the blue-colored seas and exploring the white-stained villages of the Greek Islands as if we’d known this land and its water our whole lives. For me, perhaps I did. I’d been sailing with my father nearly every weekend since I was a mere three-months old. We come from Turkey, but our love for Greece reins strong. It’s a paradise for sailors with its calm winds, enchanting beaches, and alluring energy that is created when you combine Greek culture with life at sea. I was thrilled to be spending a month in such a gorgeous place.
To celebrate the halfway point of our trip, I spent the better part of the morning preparing a classic cheesecake as my father navigated our way to our stopover on the island of Leros. Upon arrival we began chatting with the neighboring boat – a husband and wife and their two children -- as we liked to do during our stopovers.
After introductions, I ran off to retrieve the cheesecake I had just prepared. I hopped back up on the main deck, “Cheesecake?” I said with a smile. “Certainly,” the wife replied. Then, just as I did, the wife disappeared beneath their boat only to return with a beige woven basket of brightly colored fruits with a lingering, delicious smell of citrus that she mentioned had just been picked from her garden earlier that day. We shared our foods on the deck of their boat as my father and I began to share our stories from sea when we quickly discovered that the husband was half Turkish himself, with a hometown just a few hours from ours, though he’d lived most of his life in Greece. We instantly felt more connected. We then spent the next hours sharing our tales of the Greek Islands, sailing to and from Turkey, laughing for hours, and finishing the entire cheesecake and the better half of his wife’s delicious fruits.
Around 6 a.m. the following morning, we were preparing to depart Leros when the Turkish-Greek man from the neighboring boat stood up, looked over to us, presented a big smile, and said, “Life is beautiful. Don’t forget that.” Then he looked away at the sunrise and the calm morning sea. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. The next two weeks sailing the islands, I thought to myself every morning, “Life is beautiful.” Still to this day I think about the wise Greek man, his smile, and his unforgettable magical lesson.
Story by Deniz Erciyes, written by Christa Adams