Sketches of Skiathos
Illustrations Anthea Sylbert
To live with the Skiathans is to know them, for they hide nothing and are quite generous with themselves.
The sketches in this book are an attempt to capture the spirit of this ancient people living on this small island in the modern world.
“Strong, sturdy, hard working, optimistic, religious, and capable of enduring hardships after millennia of occupation and foreign rule, like most people on the planet, Skiathans love, they hate, they dream, they compete, they help each other, they have talents and frailties, they join together in sorrow and celebration. In short, they have all of those qualities which we think of as human, except Skiathans have few pretensions. Fashion is not an issue. Clothes are casual and practical. Produce, meat, and fish are an issue. They must be fresh. Class is not a concern. On a small island everyone grew up with everyone else and they all depend on each other for survival, the great equalizer. The police are present but not intrusive, in fact they are quite helpful and understanding. In the winter they look away while the people all become scofflaws. But it’s their island and they’ll manage it their way. Everyone has patience with everyone else. You might sit in your car for a minute while a car and a motorbike in front of you are having a conversation blocking your way, but you don’t honk your horn or complain. No stress. Greeks eat more, smoke more, and drink more but live longer than any other citizens of the European Union. They also work harder and longer hours than the others, but they also party harder and are fully capable of celebrating like children. Just as when you peel the layers of an onion you get more onion, so as you peel back the centuries, one suspects the people on this island have essentially been the same for two millennia. Substituting the Most Holy Virgin for Dionysus, and motorbikes for donkeys, the people seem to know where they’re going. It’s quite simple. Because since at least 34 BC it has ever been thus.”