Social media is a blessing and a curse and I’ve realised that I’ve only been sharing the highlights reel, and not because I’ve been wanting to hide real life, but because when I’m going through a difficult time, my first thought is not “Oooh, let me pick up my camera and take a photo/video of me crying or having a hard time.”
I’m very grateful for this little spot of the internet I have, with this blog. I can share a lot more here than I can on Instagram or Facebook. I’ve always been better at writing my feelings out. It’s a great way for me to process things too. This isn’t a pity post… it’s a diary entry of what’s been happening, and while things have been tough, I’ve got a lot to be grateful for and that’s what I hold onto.
So on Instagram and Facebook, you would have seen our incredible holiday on the Greek island, Zakynthos. It was wonderful and I’ll be sharing more soon… I actually filmed more, because I want to turn them into Vlogs/ home videos for the boys.
What you have not seen is a series of events that really knocked us. I was going to share, but then South Africa came to its knees with the looting of KZN and JHB, in the name of Zuma. I was absolutely heartbroken to watch what was happening and felt this sense of guilt being so far away and absolutely helpless. I felt like it would be tone deaf to share our stuff, when everything already felt so heavy.
When we first moved to Greece, we were without a car for the first month whilst we were in Marousi. It was fun to use the public transport. When we moved to Glyfada, we knew we were going to need a car, as public transport isn’t as prominent here. We rented a car and to give you an idea, it was €280 for 28days. As Greece went into the summer season, prices increased and suddenly the same car for the next 28 days was going to €1600. Jaw dropping. It pushed us to buy a car sooner and we found an old pre-loved BMW X3, in excellent condition. The excitement was real and it really made us feel more at home, by being able to move around freely. Sox was the main driver, since I’ve still never driven on the other side of the road. There were lots of funny and nerve-wrecking moments with him, so I can only imagine when it’s my turn. I’ll get there.
Our car purchase came at the perfect time because we had the trip booked for Zakynthos and now we could drive our car onto the ferry and have the car on the island. Such a fun experience.
We had a great time as I mentioned – more to come soon. We visited family in Patras on the way home and finally returned back to Athens on Monday. It was quite a bizarre feeling to leave a Greek island to return back to Athens and then stay there. Usually we would return to Athens, to get to the airport to catch a flight back home. Except that home, is now Athens. It was something to get our heads around.
On our return, we found out that some of our best friends from Cape Town and England, were going to be on Rhodes Island and we decided to book another ferry for the following Sunday, drive our car onto it and have the car on the island again and visit our friends, who we miss dearly. Whilst we aren’t working, we are taking this time to really take advantage of travelling and experiencing things with our boys, whilst they’re little and whilst there is no school.
Dimitra, my Mother in law, who had been visiting some friends, also returned on Monday and we knew that we had until the following Sunday to move her into her apartment in Kaisariani. It’s not ideal that she’s going to be 25 minutes away from us, but we know she really wants to be in her own apartment and gain her independence back. We will somehow make it work. It was going to be big challenge to arrange a new fridge, TV, bed etc within a week, but we were up for it. It’s all new for us too… in South Africa, you know the shops and the places to go. Here we’re still figuring it all out.
On Thursday, 15 July 2021, we bought a fridge for delivery the next day and then we drove to the apartment for the bed delivery to arrive at 12pm.
The bed arrived at 12:30, they assembled it, we cleaned a little bit and at 2pm, we left.
The street is parallel to the main road, relatively busy between 12-2pm and diagonally opposite a bakery. When we came out, our car was gone. We stood looking at the empty space, blinking hard, with a sickening knot in our stomach. Did we forget where we parked? No. Was it towed? We quadruple checked and so did the police. Neighbours came out onto the street, completely taken aback, they even checked the street camera, but the car is just out of view. After the initial disbelief and shock, the sobering, sickening reality hit. Our car was stolen.
We also started thinking about everything that was inside the car. Our 2 car seats and isofix that we brought with us from SA, our MINI Pram that is special to us, as we’ve had it for both boys. What made me cry really hard was realising it had Alexi’s sentimental sleep elephant – I’d brought it with as he’d need to have his nap. We’d already lost his special sleep bunny on our flight over, which was awful. I’d contacted the airlines and airports “lost and found” but turned up empty handed. Funny enough, I’d managed to find a way to get a new bunny to us, but it arrived whilst we were in Zakynthos and I was now needing to track down which post office it had gone to.
What made Sox cry really hard was realising a special religious icon that his late Dad gave him – it’s been in every car Sox has ever owned since he was 18 years old, was now gone. Other items gone: Shopping bags with items in them, a camp cot, sunglasses. It was a huge blow. Not only are they items we need to replace, and an expense we didn’t expect, but some are sentimental and some are also a connection to home.
Sox went to the police station to report it and spoke to our Insurance. The next blow came when we found out, that even though we have the top insurance, they will only pay out in 3 months time and they don’t pay for rental cars or anything like that. Gutted. Rental cars now in season, are ridiculously priced, which is why we bought a car in the first place. We pray every night for our car to be returned.
The irony is not lost on us. We’ve never had a car stolen in South Africa, but the car we owned for 3 weeks was stolen in Greece. Thing is, we weren’t naive to the fact that crime is everywhere in the world, especially large cities. It turns out that Athens is the #2 city in Europe for car theft. What a way to find out, and yet all the Greeks we have told seem to be really shocked that it even happened at all. It really cut us off at the knees.
I had such a cry, because that night really good friends of ours, Martin and Bonney reached out. Bonney offered to find another elephant for Alexi. I looked online here but came up empty in Europe. Bonney managed to find it on Takealot and ordered it for us. It made me burst into tears – relief, gratitude, sadness for Alexi who had yet another special sleep toy gone. I snapped a quick pic of me in tears and sent it to her – the only time I’ve ever taking a selfie crying.
That night, George made my heart burst with pride. Without being asked, he gave his sleep bunny to Alexi and said: “You can sleep with my bunny tonight, Alexi.” Cue more tears.
On the Friday, our boxes from South Africa arrived. That alone is exceptionally emotional. I’ve read others blogs and watched Instastories of those who had moved overseas and they all said how they’d cried when their stuff arrived. I didn’t quite understand it, but now I do. It’s an emotion you can’t explain… it makes the move even more of a reality.
You know when it rains, it pours? Well… Our boxes arrived early. Wouldn’t that usually be wonderful? I felt almost brat like, but unfortunately it was terrible timing. We are still in our booking.com rental. We negotiated to be here until the end of October, with the hope of finding a more permanent/long term rental sooner, so that when our stuff arrived it would be delivered straight there.
Firstly to watch our lives arrive in 30 boxes only, is emotional and then to see them offload the boxes into the corner of the apartment, knowing we can’t unpack them yet and knowing we will have an extra cost to move them again in a few months was just a lot to process. We were already emotional from the day before and this just felt more depressing than it actually is.
Thankfully, they delivered Dimitra’s boxes to her apartment in Kaisariani and Sox and Dimitra, kindly caught a lift with the truck (since we had no car now to get there) to open up the apartment.
We weren’t in a great head space and decided that instead of moping at home, we would still go ahead with the trip to Rhodes – better to be amongst good friends.
On Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s ferry trip that would now be carless (and we’d need to rent a car in Rhodes), we went for Covid Tests. Mine was negative. Sox: positive. We couldn’t believe it. The hospital did a second test for Sox to check, but it came back positive again.
I’m the one who’s not been feeling well. I’ve had a bit of a head cold, which I pinned down to being in and out of aircon. I was a little concerned that if anyone could have a positive result, it might be me.
Sox is almost symptom free and I say “almost” because he has a slight cough, but he has that all year round – it’s more like a clearing of the throat cough – he needs a nose op at some stage, so again I’m not even sure we can count that.
Thankfully symptoms are very very mild, if non-existent and we are extremely grateful. I’ve now had 3 tests – 2 Rapid tests and a PCR test – all negative (and yet I’ve had more symptoms – I’ve got no sense of smell, but I can taste and I’ve had a head cold.)
I truly don’t know how this virus works? How can it knock some people completely and others can have almost no symptoms / not even know they have it? I pray that it stays this way, because I know things can change quickly.
We couldn’t move Dimitra on the Sunday as planned and are now all in quarantine together for 10-14 days.
It’s at these times that being far from home make things hard. You realise quickly how “alone” you are, with little support. Friends in CT would be helping with groceries/meals/medicine runs or whatever the case is (and I know, because those who have checked in on us, all said they wished they could help.)
Another thing that struck me is that with our move, we don’t have an arsenal of items to keep the boys entertained. All these types of things take time to build up, something we haven’t started doing yet only being here for 3 months. So for example, I have no baking supplies built up – so never mind ingredients – we don’t have mixing bowls or measuring cups/spoons because we’re in the Air bnb type apartment. In a supermarket order, I ordered some ingredients and we made Gingerbread Men. We got really creative using pots as a bowl, cups to measure and hands instead of a food processor or rolling pin. It was such fun!
I don’t have art and craft supplies yet to keep them busy, like we did in CT, in Level 5 lockdown. I wanted to make play dough, but still trying to figure out what cream of tartar is in Greek, so I can order online. I’m still trying to figure out which pharmacies deliver medicine. It took me 3 (interrupted, thanks to the boys) hours to order groceries online, because the apps are not in English, so I sit with Google Translate and then insert that into the search button to save time. I started off by scrolling and looking for the picture of the product I needed, but that took longer. The systems are all different here and I am still learning. It’s not having your comforts or your familiar systems in place that make it hard to navigate a situation that is already hard!
I know this is all part of moving to a foreign country (tougher doing it in a pandemic, with two small boys – what were we thinking?) and we knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Gosh, we prepared for it to be hard… but as with life, there are curve balls and it’s one thing “knowing” it will be hard and another thing living it. It’s only been 3 and a half months and I am very proud of what we have done so far. There have been high highs and low lows… It’s certainly one helluva adventure and I’m pretty sure that we will look back one day and laugh.
Right now, I’m grateful that symptoms are mild to gone and treasuring the extra time we all have together.
I feel better too for writing it all down and just getting it out. I started off this post by saying social media is a blessing and curse, but I will say the support I’ve had from people on Instagram and Facebook has been pretty incredible. This community is a special one and I am appreciative!