When you set out on your journey to Ithaca
Pray that the road is long
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you
Without her you would have never set out on the road
Constantine Cavafy (1911)
Welcome to Ithaca says the sign as we dock. And I am struck
immediatelyapart from the Venetian architecturehow much it
reminds me of Kalk Bay in Cape Town1. A place that we both love. I am here to help my friend
Sophia pack up the house that she inherited from
her father when she was five years old. She has come here every year during the summer.
But now, sadly, she can no longer afford the upkeep.
And it has been sold.
Ithacacontradictorily translated depending on who you speak to,
to mean cheerful, abrupt, or harsh, but most often homeis
the smallest of the Ionian islands west of the mainland of Greece. Just 29 km in length and
6.5 km wide, its so small it doesnt appear on some of
the maps. And despite its rich historybeing the destination of Homers Odysseymost people get
off the ferry next door, at the more popular and touristy
Cephallonia, home to Captain Correlli's Mandolin. Sometimes Ithaca is frequented by the rich and famous who want to escape the cameras. It is
said that Madonna owns a beach here. But this, too, could be a myth.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the population of Ithaca was about 15,000. But WWII and numerous