Disaster leads to Greek hospitality
by Al Stover
Kaylie Phan and her two sisters had lost their way.Phan and her older siblings had been vacationing in Greece over the summer. While they were visiting Milos, an island in the Aegean Sea, they noticed they were separated from their tour group and traveled to an unfamiliar part of the island.As they were about to panic, they were approached by an older woman with droopy and tired eyes, wearing a thick dress over another. The woman took them back to a large rock near the beach where they met up with some of the group.For Phan, who had traveled is various places in North America and Asia, the woman’s kindness showed Phan the well-known hospitality of the Greek people. Prior to receiving help from the woman, Phan had the impression that Greeks, like most people in other countries, regard American tourists as annoyances.
The Greek’s concept of hospitality and generosity to travelers, or xenia at is it known in the native tongue, has been a custom among the ancient times when an elderly couple welcomed the gods Zeus and Hermes into their home and were rewarded by the deities for their kindness.
Although the sisters were not Greek goddesses, they got to experience the hospitality and how welcome they were in the country, despite being from a faraway land.
Another moment when the sisters received the warm generosity of Greece was when they were having dinner and could not find their way back to their hotel. Two Greek women took it upon themselves to help the sisters.
“They literally walk you back,” Phan said. “They don’t just tell you ‘take a left, take a right.’ They took us back. I thought that was pretty great.”
In addition to receiving the help from the locals, Phan and her sisters actually began to experience more of the culture and an open and friendly vibe from the people when they were separated from the tour group.
[When you’re on a tour group] you’re surrounded by all of these people from different places,” Phan said,” But when you’re alone and lost that’s when people start to lend a hand.”
An aspect of the Greek’s openness that Phan experienced when she was not in danger was men of different ages wearing speedos, walking around the beach.
“I think I saw enough men in speedos for the rest of my life,” Phan said.