The People of Sifnos

by Amelia Kanan

11 or so years ago I first experienced Sifnos, in the Greek Cyclades, through late night Skype chats with my best friend, as well as her blog where she confessed the curious truths about everyone she met. She lived and worked on the island for two summers in a row and has visited regularly ever since – despite everyone finding out about her blog and their curious truths which she had shared with the world. While she is an insanely talented storyteller, who needs to be writing more, I had a sneaking suspicion that a lot of the magic came from the characters themselves.

Sure enough, that was true. Not only did I get to meet the owner of the bar where she had worked and who had hated her for two minutes and then unofficially adopted her as the daughter he never had, but I also got to watch her and her husband introduce their baby to the magical Greek village that has become a second home to them.

While I don’t have much mileage on the island of Sifnos (that’s meant to be a metaphor, but I also literally can’t drive there…), I have never felt more at home. It was the comfort, familiarity, simplicity of living, lifestyle and obviously the aesthetic pleasure. Most of all, it was the people. Most everyone I met in Sifnos was of my favorite variety: funny, argumentative, loyal, hardworking, resilient, kind and a unique pairing of stubborn and humble. They’re nothing like the Italians. Just kidding…kind of.

George (1 of 1)

This was George and his daughter…or maybe his wife. I couldn’t be sure but he kept trying to send her back to LA with me. Neither of us really spoke the same language, but judging by all the hugs, I’m pretty sure George and I shared a bond. My favorite story with George: on my second night, I couldn’t find my passport. After searching through my entire room and googling “losing passport aboard”, I mustered some hope and went down to the front desk – the last place I remembered having it. It was midnight and George was sitting alone on the patio, happily listening to music. Once we greeted each other, I said, “George, I lost my passport.” He then got very anxious and worried about me, “Oh, no! Big trouble. You must go to the Consulate!” My stomach dropped, thinking this surely meant that he did not have my passport. However, due to the communication fog, I had a feeling things might not be completely clear, so I decided to clarify, “George, do you have my passport?” His face immediately changed, as if a light bulb went on, and he hurriedly walked inside to his desk, where he opened a drawer and pulled out my passport. Seeming just as surprised and relieved as I was, he said, “I thought you give to me, for safe keep!” We laughed and hugged each other as he kept saying, “Very good now. Very good.”

Street Boys (1 of 1)

While I was slightly scared of this crew of boys, I also wanted them all to be my sons. My first experience with them happened when I was walking back to my hotel – well after midnight – and found myself in the middle of this rowdy clan arguing. They were divided into two sides, yelling things back and forth to each other – like the Sharks and the Jets from West Side Story. For a moment I felt like I should intervene and prevent a possible fight. Instead, I just kept walking. Every day afterwards, I kept seeing them around town – walking around, eating ice cream or just sitting on their phones. As I walked to meet my ferry to leave, I creepily said goodbye by taking this photo.

While some may feel uncomfortable with these photos, I think it’s more important to talk about the fact that we (Americans) don’t let our daughters feel uninhibited or unabashed about their bodies. There is no doubt that there are unfortunate dangers and fears that exist in our society, but how much power do we want to give them? And what is the price we are paying for it?

Boat Boy (1 of 1)

I watched this boy stand still for 15 minutes (I was waiting for Stephanie…not just being a creep). That man in the pink shorts never said a word to him the entire time.


Vathi was my favorite beach. It seemed like the most relaxing, the least crowded (other than Faros, a not-so-great beach) and had the warmest water). There also weren’t a lot of boats in this bay because there wasn’t a marina.

Cool Chicks (1 of 1)

Bike babes #slay in Apollonia.

These two bosses sat in the same spots, making the same faces, every day.