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June 13, 2005

Sabbatical Leave, Page 6
Oia, Santorini (Greece)

Sabbatical was not all work and no play. In November, Marilyn Hood and I traveled to the beautiful island of Santorini where we stayed for five days in a "cave home" carved out of the mountain in Oia. Traditionally loaded with thousands of sun seekers and tourists in the summer months, we found Oia almost totally isolated and boarded up for the winter months.

Even in the relative "cold" and rainy season, Santorini is one of the most beautiful and violent places I've ever visited. The beauty stems from an extraordinarily violent volcanic eruption that occurred on Santorini in roughly 1650 b.c.e. The explosion brought the Minoan civilization to an end and probably led to the myth of Atlantis. The volcano literally blew off much of the island, leaving a caldera in its wake and permanently changing the shape of the island from spherical to a crescent. Much historical and geological research has confirmed the cataclysmic efffects of the volcano for hundreds of miles around the island. The volcano continues to be active.

I have often seen photographs of Santorini in Greek Island art calendars. I always assumed that the photographers airbrushed or changed the colors of their pictures in order to make them seem so bright and picturesque. As these photos demonstrate, Santorini is so beautiful that even an amateur photographer like me armed with nothing more sophisticated than a simple digital camera can get magnificent shots.

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