As edited by Dolores Reyes-Pergioudakis
My brother, Joshua, has a Greek Godfather, Nikolaos Pergioudakis who is in the Greek Navy. We both call him “Nonnos,” which means Godfather in Greek. He sees after the Greek Lighthouses; thus we like to call him “Keeper of the Greek Lights!” He invited our family to come stay with him and my Aunt in an authentic Greek lighthouse last summer.
I didn't really know what to expect. All I knew was that we would stay at a lighthouse with Joshua's Godparents on a little island off the coast of Gythion in the southern Peloponnese.
As we arrived, we first saw the tower of the lighthouse. “Nonnos” told us that Kranai Lighthouse was built in 1873 and many other things, but I mostly remember getting very tired as I climbed the stairs. Nonnos had to carry Joshua part of the way, since he was only three years old and the marble steps were very large for him. I enjoyed the spectacular view from the top. The turquoise Greek sea surrounded us.
Right away, we went down to sea. I slipped on the sharp jagged rocks surrounding the lighthouse. As I lost my balance, I grabbed “Nonnos” and both splashed into the sea. Joshua, my shadow, was right behind us. We went swimming, fishing and diving in the sea around the lighthouse with our “Nonnos” and our dad, Homer. “Nonnos” is a good diver; after all he is Greek, and the sea is his natural home. He dived off rocks and searched the sea below, and pulled up vivid red and coral starfish. I particularly remember “Nonnos” bringing us a live octopus he had pulled out of the sea. I could feel the suction of the octopus on my hand. It is something I will always remember about our stay at that lighthouse.
Normally, we ate our meals on the terrace of the lighthouse. We swam, played and enjoyed the Greek sun and sea. On some days we had company and played with other Greek children, especially Jason, Hermes, Danae and little Nikolaos. We even had a birthday party on the terrace of the lighthouse.
In the evenings or early in the mornings my brother Joshua and I would lay on our backs and count the seconds between the flashing light. It alerted the ship in the night of their location. “Nonnos” told us that the original fresnel lens had been purchased by a special fund raised by the Gythion Port Authority and that when it was replaced, it had been sent to the Piraeus Yacht Club. To this day, the citizens of Gythion have a petition that asks for the return of the original fresnel lens.
During our stay, many tourists came to the island to see the lighthouse. Tourists would come by and photograph my mother, Rose Mary Garza, so we called her the Greek Lighthouse “Faros” Goddess. Our “Nonnos” taught us that in Greek “faros” means lighthouse.
The tourists knocked on the door and wanted to come join us on the terrace of the lighthouse. “Nonnos” explained that this happened because the guidebooks featured the lighthouse as a museum for many decades. He explained that it had just been renovated and that we were the very first people to stay in the lighthouse, since it had become a museum.
Our “Nonnos” showed up a documentary on the lighthouse which said that the same path we walked up to the lighthouse today is the same path from Mythology where “Helen of Troy” walked, when she launched a thousand ships to Troy. We have to agree with our parents that it was a trip of a lifetime to vacation in a Greek Lighthouse ……thanks to our “Nonnos”, Nikolaos, Keeper of the Greek Lights!
When we left Kranai Lighthouse in the Southern Peleponese, our Nonnos took us to visit several other lighthouses. Our fist stop was at Melagavi Lighthouse, built in 1896 near Loutraki in northern Peloponnese. We then went to Salamis Island to visit Koghi Lighthouse built in 1901. Finally we took a trip to the beautiful island of Santorini and visited the Akrotiri Lighthouse there built in 1892.
We have to say that it is an unforgettable trip vacationing and visiting the Greek Lighthouses… thanks to our “Nonnos”, Nikolaos, Keeper of the Greek Lights!
This story appeared in the
April 2007 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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