This morning while I grappled with the idea of whether to take a shower or not, I had an epiphany. Everything in Greece revolves around time. Everything takes time—longer than we’re used to. In the states, all of our little tasks can be quickly completed with the help of modern electronics. Therefore, we take for granted our ability to do everything we want in a day. Compared to Greece, living in the States is effortless.
In Greece, taking a shower needs at least an hour since the water must be pre-heated in the tank. Doing laundry demands an entire day since everything must be hand-washed then hung out on the balcony to dry. Some people have washing machines fresh out of the 60s which take about two hours to go through a cycle, but absolutely no one has a drying machine. Why own a drying-machine when everyone has a balcony and it never gets below freezing outside?
Eating is also an investment since Greek restaurant owners expect customers to buy drinks, then appetizers, then a meal, then more drinks—this can take at least three or four hours. If you don’t decide to go out for dinner, cooking must also be given lots of time for preparation. Ovens are small and weak and the stove-top can be very unpredictable. It also takes more time to get to and from places since most people walk everywhere. The weather is always nice, so the Greeks take advantage of the sun by strolling through the parks throughout the city.
From dusk to dawn, all the little tasks normally completed under an hour in the States, occupy the Greeks throughout their day. So, maybe the Greeks are laid back because they have to be. In this world, there is no room for impatience. Thus, this lifestyle seeps into the foundations of the country including the bureaucracy. So, even though we believe the process of getting a visa or sending a letter should be quick and easy, the Greeks aren’t too worried about it. We all just need to remember not to take the little things for granted. And sometimes, it’s better to take your time. Take a stroll. Take a bath. Take time.