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Absent Fathers & Ithacan

Andie Miller

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 immediately—apart from the Venetian architecture—how 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.
    Ithaca—contradictorily translated depending on who you speak to, to mean cheerful, abrupt, or harsh, but most often home—is the smallest of the Ionian islands west of the mainland of Greece. Just 29 km in length and 6.5 km wide, it’s so small it doesn’t appear on some of the maps. And despite its rich history—being the destination of Homer’s Odyssey—most 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

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