I just got back yesterday from a week-long trip to Mexico. My parents, my son and I went to visit my sister for her birthday. We spent the time between Mexico City (where she lives) and Oaxaca.
On the plane to Mexico City, I watched a couple of movies. One of them was My Big Fat Greek Wedding (the second part).
I loved the first movie, and even though the second one was terrible, if you ask me, it reminded me of how much I enjoyed the first one when I watched it.
The first movie was released in 2002, a year before I married D, my ex-husband.
D is Greek American, just as Toula in the movie. His parents were born in Greece but migrated to the United States in the 70s.
Greeks are very fond and proud of their cultural heritage. Even though his parents had spent a lifetime in the US and both D and his sister were American born, they cooked Greek food, they spoke Greek at home, their friends were mostly Greek, and they even watched Greek TV channels.
I was a lot younger when I started dating D, but it was evident from the beginning that his family would’ve wanted him to marry someone Greek. Of course, this changed once they got to know me well and «accepted» me as part of their family. They were very nice to me, I loved them and I know they loved me as well.
Because I did not have any family in the US, it was pretty neat to feel welcomed and loved, knowing I had a family. A Greek family.
Greek and Latin American cultures are very different but, in my opinion, there are some similarities between them. Both Greeks and Latins are family-oriented, they love food and dancing, they are very devout and have strong principles and values.
We were married for 8 years and, during that time, we traveled to Greece once or twice a year. We did visit other places, but we mainly stayed in Athens and where his family was originally from – an island called Andros, part of the Greek Cyclades archipelago.
After being in Greece for the first time, it was very easy to fall in love and develop a strong appreciation for Greek culture.
I wanted to belong and also be able to speak with some of the members of his family who solely spoke Greek, so I learned Greek (I can read, write and speak), I also learned how to dance some of the Greek folk dances, and I even took a Greek history class at the local Greek Institute.
On my last post, I mentioned how it is probably easier to keep a marriage strong if cultural barriers are avoided.
I am still not sure about the cultural differences having something to do with the marriage ending.
At the beginning of our relationship and the first years of our marriage, these made things more interesting and romantic.
The differences and the sense of community distracted me. They worked in tandem to silence my intuition, which always told me we were not right for each other.
After a couple of years of marriage, it was very challenging for me to try to compete with his family’s opinions and strong cultural background. At times, I felt like a pawn moved around, and that things were only ok when I jived the «Greek» way.
This started to get exhausting after a while and took its toll on the marriage. Perhaps if I had been more understanding and tolerant, or if he had been more loving and caring about me things might have turned out differently, but what’s the point in thinking about that now?
Things are presently the way they should’ve always been. D is married to someone with his same cultural background, and knowing this makes me happy.
I have not visited Greece since 2009, and there are many things I miss.
Santorini and its magnificent sunset, dinner at Selene and sunbathing with the view of the caldera; Mykonos happening nightlife, staying at the Belvedere (just as last time), dine at Matsuhisa and getting lost in Chora’s narrow alleys.
Also, I miss some of my favorite things to eat in Andros. Αμυγδαλωτά (Greek almond cookies) from Laskari’s Pastry shop, Πορτοκαλόπιτα (traditional Greek yogurt cake with orange syrup) from Platanos, both in Chora – the main town, as well as ΚΤ (yummy chocolate cake) from Tziotis Pastry Shop in Korthi Bay.
I haven’t had any of these Greek treats in 10 years.
The other day I saw κουραμπιέδες (Greek shortbread wedding cookies) at a specialty supermarket here in Colombia, but it is probably the only Greek treat I’ve seen in commercial form in this part of the world.
I know I could probably whip up something acceptable if I get a good recipe from the internet, but I’d rather have an excuse to visit Greece next time I am in Europe and eat delicious food while I brush up on my Greek.
Sounds like a plan to me.