Grabbing my fourteen euro towel, I almost felt the sandpaper material disintegrate in my hands while the Greek vendor walked away smiling that he had swindled another tourist. I was happy though just starring at the Mediterranean Sea with my other study abroad students. It was crazy to think that only nine days ago we were all sitting on a seven hour plane flight complaining about our back pain, I spun a sandy rock in my hand.
The clear ocean in front of me was full of older single swimmers just floating in the small harbor. The majority of the beachgoers were older gentlemen with very tan skin and their boisterous bellies hanging down in front covering the top of their Speedos. The other people crowding the beach consisted of children with their grandparents and parents. I watched as a small boy pretend to drown and his father dove in to save him. The father stood up and scolded the child for faking and the boy pouted with innocent eyes.
Our group of students stood out and was constantly stared at for our white skin and loud language. The way we said “no” and shook our head to the many beach vendors was very clear, that we were not from this area of the world. The covered bodies and the cloud of sunscreen seemed to just float over our area of the public beach. The vendors seemed to flock to our space, like moths to a flame, and unfortunately most of us lacked change making it impossible to bargain.
Even the swimsuits we were all wearing seemed too conservative for the public beach. The women tanned with untied tops and thong bikinis; while they let their toddlers go nude while playing in the sand. The older children seemed to be focused on learning how to play paddle ball, a popular sport here at the public beach. The adults seemed like pros able to keep the flow of the game constant without dropping or over hitting the ball for multiple turns. The children couldn’t really keep the ball in the air for more than one turn. I was intrigued by the sport-centered feel of the beach; there wasn’t a sandcastle or shovel in sight.
As my time there came to an end, I put my layers of clothing back on and marveled at my small tan (really a darker shade of white) and dusted off my new pink towel. Seeing that our group was starting to leave, the throng of vendors seemed to disperse from the beach. We packed our bags and reluctantly left the clear sea and headed to the tram station. Caught in my zipper of my backpack my fourteen euro towel started to unravel.
Kelsey Keegan, Athens Scholar
Pierce Arrow Blogger