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Field Trip–Day Two
June 17, 2011

We awakened in the beautiful countryside of ancient Olympia. I took an early morning walk and drank coffee outside by the hotel swimming pool. After a great breakfast buffet, we loaded onto the bus for the short drive into the Olympic village.

Our tour guide told us the story of the ancient Olympics as we sat on stones surrounding the ruins of the city. I wish I had a copy of her presentation because I can remember only a small portion. I’ll attempt to share what little I left with. The ancient Olympic games were a time when all fighting stopped; political peace was called and a festival where athletes trained and men from city states who normally faught each other, ate and drank together. The athletes arrived early for competition and training. Only the best were allowed to compete. The three events were the running race, and the discus and javelin throw. The training was considered a religious act in that the men were controlling their bodily instincts to ascend to the level of the gods. Mother Earth and the mythological gods were worshipped.

Although women were not allowed in the stadium, mythology tells us that the very first Olympic event was a foot race between women, the winner becoming the assistant to Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, over whom the Trojan War was faught.

My professor told me this story: An ancient Greek mother dressed as a man so she could sneak into the stadium to watch her son compete. When he won the race, she stood up and cheered, blowing her cover. “She must be put to death,” they cried! But no, her son was the winner and they would not kill her. She was saved. What we won’t do for our sons. Interestingly, the first temple that was built on the grounds was not to Zeus, but to Hera, his wife, who was worshipped so that motherhood and propegation would continue.

The lone prize was a crown made of olive tree branches. Olive trees were considered a sign of good fortune.

The actual stadium was not that impressive, just a big, dirt field with grass-covered hills surrounding it for spectators, but the ruins of the temples and city were uite impressive. Much excavation and restoration has been done. Rather than attempt to reconstruct the city, small portions, like maybe one column has been reconstructed using the original materials to demonstrate what the size of the buildings would have been. It struck me how the ancient Olympics were a time of peace and harmony for the people and how that is still mostly true today. It’s a coming together of countires who might not always be friendly, even though we have had exceptions.

Our guide spoke of Socrates and Aristotle and how the Romans came and stopped the pagan worship of the gods and things changed drastically and then there were no Olympics for a very long time. I wish I could tell you the entire story, but it is beyond me. It was fascinating to sit among the ruins and hear the story.

After a nice, Greek lunch, of savlakia (grilled chicken on a stick), rice and vegetables, we drove the gorgeous Ionian coast to a charming, remote, seaside village, Galaxidi (translated Milk and Vinegar) where we stayed at the Europa Seaside Hotel. Upon arrival, we had plenty of time for a swim–ocean or pool–before dinner. The kids all took off for the beach immediately, but came running back to the pool after two of them stepped on sea urchins and had black spikes in their feet. My pfoessor and I were walking along the small beach when I told her I thought I’d go up to the room and change into my swimsuit. She looked at me and said in her wonderful Greek accent, “Debi! this is Greece, you don’t need a swimsuit. Take your clothes off and get into the water, you will love it.” It’s incredibly freeing, this “Greek style” swimming.

I was treated to the first queen sized bed and the best night’s sleep I’ve had since I left the U.S. I threw open the shutters and enjoyed the sounds and fresh air of the sea.

We had a later departure time the next morning, and since I’m the only person in all of Greece who wakes up early, I treated myself to a long morning walk and a swim in the pool. I had this huge, wonderful pool all to myself. And since all of the hotel rooms were overlooking the pool, and just in case someone awakened, I even wore a swimsuit!

The adventure continues.

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Debi Dixon

Debi Dixon

The Universe is guiding me on an incredible adventure: my Plan B. I write here to share bits of my Odyssey, hopefully to inspire, encourage, or extend the virtual hand of friendship.

When I quit teaching in 2014, I could never have imagined the growth I would experience through travel, writing, reading, therapy, and introspection.

I believe human connection and compassion will go a long way toward our healing, and the best way to connect and feel compassion for one another is through the sharing of our stories.

Thank you for joining me here. I appreciate you and may we grow together.

Inspirational Quote

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
~Joseph Campbell

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