I wasn’t sure how I would feel being back in Athens. It is a place of such emotional contrasts for me — its wonderful history and the warmth of the Greeks alongside the tragedy that comes with a collapsed economy, not to mention the heat and pollution of summer. But arriving in Athens on Wednesday, I felt a sweet familiarity. Athens was a partner during the life-changing time I was here among a community of refugees.
Avery and Bella and I are only here for a couple of days so we visited the Acropolis and rambled through the charming neighborhood of Plaka. The streets are packed with tourists but we don’t care. They get henna tattoos, enjoy the souvenir shops and sample the souvlaki.
Last night, we had dinner with my adopted refugee family, such a happy event for me. The family is doing well although their lives remain difficult. Sayed is still working for a large NGO in a very stressful job helping refugees navigate the changes in their lives. 5-year-old Ali is in a special program for children with cerebral palsy and he is noticeably more active and engaged. Muhtasham and Mutahar will be in school in fall, which will give Nahid a chance to catch her breath!
Today, we walked through Psirri, a central neighborhood that is edgy, artsy and increasingly the darling of young tourists. We took photos of some of the thousands of wall murals and tags we found. Here are a few of our favorites.