Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Confidential Mykonos Question


Into its fourteenth year of publication, Mykonos Confidential is the often imitated, but never equaled, summertime bible of the passions, pastimes, and peccadillos of a place like no other. 

This year, as in the past, its publisher Petros Bourovilis, and Managing Editor Ira Sinigalia invited me to contribute an article to the issue. It’s always a great pleasure and honor to be part of MC, and so I of course accepted.

For those of you who’d appreciate the opportunity of perusing Mykonos’ premier summer time publication from cover to cover (stopping perhaps to pause and contemplate life at pages 90-91) and potentially gaining a sense of what summering on Mykonos means these days, here’s a link to Mykonos Confidential 2019.

But for those of you who simply want to read what I had to say—in an essay titled, “A Question For the Mykonians”—here's how it appears in the magazine, and beneath that (in sympathy for all our eyes), its text:

“What did you do in the war, daddy?” is the title line from a 1960s film packed with well-known actors.  The film is a comedy, and back in those days Mykonos had not yet attained anything near its current star status, yet I see a serious meaning in that line keenly on point for what the island now faces:

Those confronting today’s threats to their way of life will surely be judged by those left to live with the results of their ancestors’ decisions.

As our world currently shapes up, I’d say the ancestor adulation market is in for a precipitous decline worldwide.  But I’m not concerned about everywhere. I’m concerned about here, on this island I call home, at this moment in time.

And that is why I wrote THE MYKONOS MOB, the tenth mystery-thriller in my Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series.  Yes, it’s fiction, but it ranges across the island, touching upon matters not obvious to the casual visitor, but well known to Mykonians who’ve experienced the many changes to their island.  It is for them that I wrote this book.

I am not a preacher and do not write sermons.  Nor is it my place to suggest how others choose to live their lives.  Having spent thirty-five fun-filled years on Mykonos, I’d be the proverbial stone-thrower living in a glass house should I attempt any of that.  My role as a writer is simple: entertain my readers. Yes, I delve into the seamier aspects of life, but that’s what a mystery-thriller calls for.  Nor can I take responsibility for how much of what I write later ends up actually happening.  I chalk that up to a Cassandra-like curse. 

Mykonos has undergone an extraordinary metamorphosis during my time on the island, and change on a cosmic level for those who remember its pre-Jackie Kennedy Onassis visit years. Going back further, it’s hard for those not touched by the island’s World War II-induced days of starvation and depression to imagine Mykonos as impoverished as it once was.

And that’s what makes its current celebrity and off-the-charts good fortune an understandable joy for all who love the island and its people.

And in that lay the conundrum. 

How much of a good thing is too much? How much candy can you eat before getting ill? How much heavenly sunshine can you enjoy before it kills you?  You get the idea.

It seems impossible that in little more than a single generation the island achieved worldwide renown as a 24/7 summer-playground for international celebrities, the super-rich, and holidaymakers from around the globe wishing to be in on the glitz of it all, transforming long-impoverished Mykonians into among the wealthiest per capita people in Greece.

But, like everything, it came at a price.

Much of the island’s traditional agrarian and seafaring ways were sacrificed to cater to the holidaymakers.  Its dozens of breathtaking beaches now boast world-class clubs and restaurants, many designed to keep sun worshipers and partiers onsite and consuming from morning until well beyond the witching hour.

Locals who’d run traditional businesses out of buildings in town that had been in their families for generations realized they’d make far more by turning their shops into bars, or renting their spaces to national and international fashion brands. Outside of town, farmers found themselves making more from the sale of a parcel of land than they could ever hope to make in a lifetime farming that same soil.

Off-islanders, drawn to Mykonos by its seeming immunity to the rest of Greece’s dire financial circumstances, have invested heavily in catering to the whims, wants, and fantasies of holiday-makers willing to pay whatever it takes to be part of the island’s anything goes tourist season experience.

Let’s face it folks, the world realizes Mykonos is a tourist goldmine.

I won’t bother to quote statistics, prices, or champagne sales records, but they continue to greatly inspire the island’s investors, and keeping one’s investors inspired is a very good thing.  After all, they’re who’ve kept the sun brightly shining on Mykonos while so much of the rest of Greece has struggled against the darkness. 

I bet you think the next sentence is going to begin with something like, “On the other hand…”

Wrong. I’m not a naysayer, and though a true downturn in the tourist industry is always a risk, I see a different one confronting Mykonos’ future.

To wit:  How far away from their island’s cultural and societal roots are Mykonians willing to stray to accommodate their island’s new reality?  It is a question for each Mykonian to honestly answer and act upon to the full extent of his or her own beliefs.

That’s not my passing the buck on offering an answer to the Ultimate Question; it’s stating a respectful reality. I am not properly qualified to offer an opinion on how today’s Mykonians should shape their island’s future.

After all, it is their descendants who shall judge them on how they chose to act—or not.



  1. I see another question without an answer. The world changes, some ways it seems for the better, some for the worst. How future generations judge the choices made may be the opposite of what you might expect. The Mykonians at least know the treasure that they have. The beauty there is breath-taking, even in photos.I cannot imagine anyone not wanting to go there as often as possible. The Mykonians seem to be faring nicely.

    1. Thanks, Tonette. Yes we certainly all hope and pray they continue to fair well. On the subject of change it is constant...whether we want it to or not...the question is how we manage it.