Tuesday, 19 September 2006

As rich as Croesus

Anousheh Ansari paid nearly 16 million euros for a 9 day trip into space. This American/Iranian woman is the first woman space tourist. Will it also be the most expensive holiday ever, with an average of nearly 2 million a day? To compare: the Greeks collected 15 million euros for the victims of the Asian tsunami, although now it seems that only one third of the amount has been sent to the countries that needed it, because the Minister of Foreign Affairs was afraid that the money would end up in the hands of the wrong people. A very noble thought for a Minister of the country that ranks number one on the list of the most corrupt countries in Europe. Life in Greece is said to be even more corrupt than in countries like Egypt and Chile.

When you are as rich as Croesus, which Anousheh Ansari must be because she can afford such a holiday, she could easily pay the Greek government to be the first woman passenger on the legendary ship the Argos, which took the Argonauts through half of Europe when they went looking for the famous Golden Fleece.

With no gold to your name you can recapture the heroes of that time who would have accompanied her, like Jason, Orpheus, Heracles, Castor and Pollux. But for a large amount of money you can hire enough handsome and smart actors who can relive the old myths. The ship the Argo is there. It has been rebuilt according to the old ship building techniques and made of the same materials they used in ancient times. The ship was launched last Sunday at Karnagia, in the North East of Greece, and for the next year they want the ship to follow the route of the Argonauts.

This trip took only a little longer than 9 days. The Argonauts went to the Black Sea. Helped by ruses and Medea, the daughter of the King of Colchis, they found the Golden Fleece in Colchis (in present day Georgia). On their way back home these Greek heroes got lost. Scientists say they even sailed the Danube and the Rhone. They rounded Italy, went to the south of France, and then to Libya and Crete, before they found their homeland again.

To me that seems a pretty complicated journey for a millionaire, because of the tough security regulations for tourists nowadays. Maybe it would be better if the Argo only travels among some of the Greek islands. Although the closest the Argonauts came to Lesvos was Limnos, the island to the north, the Argo should also travel to Lesvos. It is on this island at Old Antissa that the head of one of the Argonauts, Orpheus, washed ashore. This place is an ideal spot for the Argo to dock. The unspoiled beach and the ruins of Old Antissa will immediately take you back in time. There would be story tellers who would tell the old myths, there would be musicians playing the old music of Orpheus and then Anousheh Ansari would not think she is a time traveller but one of the Argonauts.

On Lesvos they should rebuild old carriages and with these carriages drawn by beautifully dressed horses Anousheh Ansari and her company of would be Argonauts could visit the Monastery of Ypsilo, which has such great views over the desolate landscape of West Lesvos. The top of the mountain on which this monastery sits, is so high that you feel you are nearly in space, very close to the Gods. Then Anousheh definitely has to visit the Petrified Forest where she can touch the sequoias that once made Lesvos such a mythical place.

Maybe they should resurrect an ancient volcano so that The Argonauts can beat the Dragons of the Volcano and so rescue Lesvos from the path of the hot lava streams. Instead of floating needlessly through space Anousheh can have some real action here.

Such a journey back in time, with story tellers, actors and musicians would not have to cost that much money, certainly not 16 million euros. Anousheh Ansari could even go to a one week workshop with Sappho in Eresos who will teach her the art of poetry and the way the old Aeolians lived.

Anousheh's visit to Lesvos should end with a great open air concert in Molyvos castle. Maybe they should not play old music but invite the best modern Greek artists. Anousheh is a space traveller who should keep an open mind about the future. And while her veins fill with the Greek music and she looks up at the starry sky she will not only look at and long for her previous holiday destination, but she will also see the house of the Gods that once made Greece such a rich country. And maybe, maybe, then she will regret that instead of travelling through space, she did not come sooner to this divine island.

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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