Each month we have a guest blogger write an article for the #looptheworld Letterbox. This month we have the wonderful words of Chris Penner. We first met Chris at one of my shows at Harmony on the island of Ios, Greece. We instantly got along really well, as I often do with Canadians. After we’d hung out a few times, Hannah and I agreed he would be the perfect candidate for our guest blogger this month. He confirmed that with his enthusiastic response when we asked if he’d be interested. Thank you so much for your words Chris. I hope you all enjoy this colourful perspective of the beautiful island of Ios.
For those highly unfortunate souls who are unfamiliar with John Stamos, he is an actor who portrayed Uncle Jesse in the 90’s blockbuster television show Full House, alongside the Olsen Twins and Bob Saget; however, more importantly John Stamos is the most handsome Greek man of all time. Even before I wrote this I did a quick google search on the Greek god and one of the first articles was “John Stamos still has amazing hair and side burns”! Have Mercy!!
On June 8th this year my close friend Michael Budd and I decided we would venture to Greece in the hopes of finding this “ómorfo ándra” (beautiful man). It was less of a hunt considering we had jobs lined up on the island of Ios to teach watersports for Mylopotas Watersports on Mylopotas beach, so much repetition in that sentence, my English teacher would be so proud. So! We spent two nights searching the bars in Athens, knowing full well he lives in the U.S.A., we hopped on the ferry to Ios, with an Irish guy named George who we’d convinced to join us, and started our summer in Ios.
As a very sheltered Canadian from outside Toronto, whose travel experience includes all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica and Mexico with my family, the move was a bit of a culture shock. Not in any dramatic fashion because Ios is still a tourist destination, it’s not like we were shitting in pots or practicing Ainu Bear Worship, it was the little things. The pace was much slower than Toronto, which should go without saying, and in no offence to Greece, but we realized once we were on the island that we were on Greek time. Meaning if we sat down for dinner expect to wait a bit longer, if you’re told something will arrive in 5 minutes, expect it to be a about 15. This concept wasn’t very difficult to grasp considering the beauty of this island, you can sit, relax, tan, soak in the majesty of what is Ios and colour me surprised, I learned to love it. Furthermore what really shocked me were the showers. Never in my life did I think I would yearn for a showerhead. For those in Canada reading this you’re probably thinking “Cant wait for hockey season to start” but after that you’re thinking “what do you mean lusting for a shower head?”. While I was using the washroom in the first place Mike and I stayed at, I asked where the showerhead was, not realizing it was stuck to a hose in front of me. If you’re lucky the water is hot but you have to spray your body, soap up then hose it all down like you’re getting rid of all your change at a cheap car wash. But that is the extent of my displeasure.
“I’m Living in Paradise” This is a sentence I repeat to myself everyday. I say this to myself on the walk down to work from the village, when times get a bit frustrating at work and mostly when I see the sun set on this island and I truly believe that. I have never been to a better place in the world. It’s sunny everyday, the temperature is perfect, there are never any clouds, and it’s acceptable to drink every night. But beyond the weather and the acceptance of alcoholism are the people. Before I left I had my very tight group of friends that I was content with, more than content to be honest, I never considered travelling and as much I love meeting new Canadians I was a bit apprehensive of experiencing new cultures and people. Will it be difficult? What are they going to think of me? Will we get along? Will they be rude or closed minded? Which turned out to be the complete opposite and my absolute favorite part of travelling, besides the late night wakeboarding, sunset cruises, smashing drinks and skinny-dipping as the sunsets over the Mediterranean. I had met so many wonderful people, friends I will have for life, which I believe is the greatest part of travelling. Opening up to stranger and discovering what it is they love, what are their struggles, their future plans and experiences is like food for the soul. Finding common interest with a person born on opposite sides of the world is exhilarating and I’ve fallen completely in love with it. Which brings me to Simon Wright and Hannah Blake.
July 2008, Molson Amphitheater with Mark Hubner was the first time I saw Dave Matthews Band live. February 2010, Dan Hammonds basement with Sam Statham I watched Sidney Crosby score the golden goal for Canada to win the Olympic gold medal and June 2015 at Harmony restaurant with Mitch Bolton and Mike Budd, I saw Simon Wright play for the very first time. There are moments in your life that are burned into your memory with a cattle prong and watching Simon perform was certainly one of them. I am a music lover and a live music fanatic and there aren’t many words in my limited vocabulary to describe how I felt that night: Shocked, awed, amazed, blown away and chills. At one point during his performance he did a remix of the Game of Thrones theme song and being a GOT nerd I could barely contain the little girl scream I wanted to release. I kept it totally cool and just looked across the table at Mike showing him the hairs that were standing up on my arm and he returned the same gesture. I had never experienced a looping machine before and to be honest I wasn’t really paying attention during the first song until I thought there were about 6 people on stage only to glance over and to my great surprise there was just one dude. It was incredible! After meeting Simon and Hannah and discovering that their spirits and personalities outshined his talent was mind blowing. Here are two incredible people, talent and kindness taller than the CN Tower (had to get a Canada reference in here somewhere) and so down to earth. I feel extremely lucky to have seen Simon perform his music and extremely privileged to call them my friends!
At this point I’m sure you’re wondering “what happened to George who you convinced to come to Ios with you?” as you should be! Well, George got a 600Euro ticket and had to go home after 3 weeks, I miss him but Ios got the best of him as it does of many people. I myself have felt at times that the island is beating me, which is nearly impossible cause I’m a 6’5 man stuck in a 5’8 frame. Thankfully I’ve met the best people in the world to share my first summer abroad with and I enjoy everyday a little bit more than the previous, meaning to say everyday is the best day of my life on Ios!!
Thanks for reading,