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Christodoulos WE HAD A CHANCE TO MEET DR. CHRISTODOULOS XENAKIS NEUROLOGIST AND PSYCHIATRIST , AND ...WHO WAS BORN IN 1936 IN IKARIA – A TIME IN HISTORY WHEN IKARIA WAS AN OCCUPIED ISLAND. THUS, HE WENT THROUGH TIMES BEING A REFUGEE IN CAIRO, AND LATER FINISHED HIS MEDICINE DEGREE IN GERMANY. NOWADAYS, HE LIVES ON IKARIA MOST OF THE YEAR, WHERE HE STARTED THE ASSOCIATION OF IKARIAN STUDIES, A CULTURAL ORGANIZATION THAT PUBLISHES BOOKS AND IS OPEN TO MANAGING ANY PROJECTS "TO IMPROVE LIFE ON IKARIA”. HE IS HELPING PEOPLE AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN WITH HIS MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE, WHICH INCLUDES HERBS, HIS LATEST FIELD OF INTEREST. CHRISTODOULOS IS A SAILOR, AND HIS RECENT PASSION IS ALSO ORGANIZING SENIOR REGATTAS ON IKARIa.

WE HAD A CHANCE TO MEET DR. CHRISTODOULOS XENAKIS NEUROLOGIST AND PSYCHIATRIST , AND ...WHO WAS BORN IN 1936 IN IKARIA – A TIME IN HISTORY WHEN IKARIA WAS AN OCCUPIED ISLAND. THUS, HE WENT THROUGH TIMES BEING A REFUGEE IN CAIRO, AND LATER FINISHED HIS MEDICINE DEGREE IN GERMANY. NOWADAYS, HE LIVES ON IKARIA MOST OF THE YEAR, WHERE HE STARTED THE ASSOCIATION OF IKARIAN STUDIES, A CULTURAL ORGANIZATION THAT PUBLISHES BOOKS AND IS OPEN TO MANAGING ANY PROJECTS "TO IMPROVE LIFE ON IKARIA”. HE IS HELPING PEOPLE AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN WITH HIS MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE, WHICH INCLUDES HERBS, HIS LATEST FIELD OF INTEREST. CHRISTODOULOS IS A SAILOR, AND HIS RECENT PASSION IS ALSO ORGANIZING SENIOR REGATTAS ON IKARIA.

As a psychiatrist, he tries to talk to people who are suffering, as well as with healthy ones. We met him at Ikaria Senior Regatta, which he started some years ago with the aim to give elderly people another perspective in life. "After people stop working, they remove themselves from the typical life and they stop being active and watch TV. So the idea was to escape this isolation and to socialize more." And since he is from Ikaria, an island, he wanted people to feel closer to the nature and sea, and to express their feelings through this.

A few days before we arrived to Ikaria, I was observing the island from Samos, asking myself and the island if I am welcome to come. There was always a cloud over the top of Ikaria, which is a sign that there is even stronger local wind blowing down the hils than the wind on the open sea, which was already on the limit for Nalu. There was a strong sign telling me that to understand more, I need to come closer ... which we did. I met people that get special strength from the wind.
At the 2018 regatta from Samos to Fournia, Christoudolus' boat started to leak. He managed to solve the problem and arrived at the port late in the evening. The next day, port authority did not allow him to go out on the sea and finish the last leg of the race to Ikaria. His didn't lose his spirit, and to come with us on Nalu was his solution to reach his home ...

So they started with the Senior Regatta to bring joy. They decided to award the winner with the Cup of Nester, who was a king, drinking the homemade Ikarian wine. They have plans to make the Senior Regatta an international event for people from all around Europe.

Christodoulos is president of the cultural organization, Association of Ikarian Studies, which publishes books, and organizes conferences and other events. They also have archeological finds and are engaged in cultural activities. In the last year, they’ve been building a path with marble signs, crossing Ikaria from east to west. These signs are actually 147 pronouncements of the Delphi Script, which are taught at all greek universities. They are placed on marble stones, positioned every 500 m throughout Ikaria, aiming to bring the culture and philosophy from the past times to today's life for the inhabitants to think of their past culture.

For Christodoulos, involvement in cultural activities and his connection with the sea somehow brings back the love that he has lost with the death of his wife and makes the grief disappear.

“I think like an 18-year-old. No fear in general, and no fear of dying. I love the sea, music, beach and women.” “Maybe I don’t have the power of a young man, but I feel like one. I have the joy, and than it just happens.”

“Of course, fear is there, but I have more courage than fear. That’s why it works.”

“And I love to enjoy! And I don't have a lot of time, but I want to enjoy until the end ... like a glass of wine. This experience and knowledge I want to enjoy and to share … I enjoy the sea when I go swimming. I enjoy the women and friendship. I enjoy the moment. I don't have time to spend time with people who act half-half. People who just want to be famous or to have their names in the spotlights, people who don't understand the meaning of life. “

Last year's "Panagiria" in October at full moon, dedicated to Dionysus, lasted well into the next day..

Every time Christodoulos comes back to Ikaria, he feels alive. The simple way of the life and the rhythm of Ikaria is something that is not affected by the modern world, and this keeps the island separated from the rest of Greece. It’s not about the wish to avoid modernity, but to keep the stress out of the modern life so it does not overtake his way of living.

“Sometimes, when I am alone, I write poetry. About soul, love, sea, friends, women. It’s just for myself.“

"Last year we (SAILMED-Aegaian Cargo Sailing) made a tour of the GNC (Global Nutrient Cycling) project. We sailed from Kea Island thorugh Tinos, Mikonos, Ikaria, Samos, and back. There, we picked up ecological and sustainable regional products and moved them to Athens and surrounding areas. The goal was to bring these natural product to stores to sell them. as well as to make contacts and show that the islands are connected by sailing. The ball started to roll, and with the publicity of this project, we received an offer to transport 1,000 litres of olive oil to Italy and then on to Switzerland by electric car. Quite extraordinary, since they were moving only by means of wind and electricity

SAILMED-Aegean Cargo Sailing Trip 2019

This year (2018) they repeated this trip, but instead of 6 islands, they visited 18 in 45 days. They used regular sailboats for tourists. Participants were like sponsors. In future, they also want to include tourists who are consuming natural products such as herbs, cheese, olive oil, plants ... There are good connections between big islands, but not as good between the smaller ones. In this way, the people of the Mediterranean are moving the local products between islands in their fridges without paying the huge costs for this. The demand is very high, which is also good for the locality. "We are shiftingfrom the Oil Ecology to a Blue Ecology, a more sustainable way of transportation. There is a small team of 15 people. The more we talk and the more we do, the more we are growing. Only the regatta meeting helped us to gain 3 new members."

"We know that what we do is quite idealistic, that this vision of the future is like an utopia, but we want to speak to the society … We have to start acting differently and help the blue economy! The organisation also tries to network each regional individual."

Having more time, Christodoulos engaged in plants and herbs. He draws on the knowledge of old teachings about the value and possible uses of herbs.

Being a child in Ikaria with his family, they often made a salad with Ilistrida. People around Ikaria didn’t understand the value of it, and they didn’t eat it. When Christodoulos’ friend from Melbourne, Australia, made a research about the herb, the results showed it consists a lot of Omega-3 acids. Christodoulos talked to people about the benefits of the herb. He also encouraged the restaurants on Ikaria to make two types of salad, one with and the other without the herb, the second one cheaper. So slowly, people are understanding the value of the herb, while still having a choice to buy ordinary salad.

“The pharmacy is telling us that drugs are good.” So Christodoulos wants “to share the knowledge with the world … It is important to create new jobs for the young people … Because the foreigners are taking good medicine (herbs) and bring it, for example, to Germany, where they transform it into drugs and bring it back here for lots of money. So why don't we do anything?” Basically, Christodoulos wants to create jobs with his knowledge of herbs. His daughter, encouraged by Christodoulos, started a company 5 years ago.

“I talk to my patients and help them in a medical way,” says Christodoulos, “but on the other side, they invite me and tell me to come to their homes. They offer me food and drinks. They are friends for me. I don’t have an office. I do it for the joy.” He treats them with normal medicine, “but if there is a way to help them with herbs, I also suggest this.”

“On that beach, in the caves over there, a myth exists that in that cave Zeus was born.” In 1998, Christodoulos did a music festival on that beach, and he continued to organize it for two more years, until he started his organisation. Unfortunately, nobody continued with the festival.
Christodoulos: “There is a little beach hidden in the rocks. There is only one path to it, and you can reach only by foot.” In 1940, when Christodoulos was 5 years old, he went to Turkey with his family: “When the Germans came to Ikaria, we went to Turkey with a small boat, and from there to Kairo … My mama was 23, my sister 6 … After the Second World War, we came back. My grandfather, mother, sister … My father was in military with the navy.” When Christodoulos was twenty years old, his father died. In 1980, Christodoulos came back to Greece from Germany, where he lived for 17 years, 13 of which he had been working as a university professor in Berlin.
6 years ago, a boat with about 50 people from Turkey came to Ikaria. They fled from Turkey. To mark this event of people coming after being attacked, and primarily to symbolize the need to be open, Christodoulos initiative was to place this boat on the breakwater on the sea, and next to it a marble stone, on which is written: "Don't lose your hopes!" As he says, this should be a symbol for everyone that “land is changing and everyone is welcome.”
A recognized Greek painter and sculptor Vangelis Rinas is also among the people Christodoulos is connected with, Vangelis was born on the island of Samos in 1966, grew up on Ikaria island. Lives and works between USA and Greece. In summer 2018 he found the shell on the coast that amazed him. He tried to understand the construction of the shell, and every look at it revealed him something new, again and again; new lines, new details. This shell was the inspiration for his art sculpture.
Vangelis Rinas on Ikaria, where he enjoys a solitary creative life.

"Alexander the Great went to Asia through Turkey, but also through Greece and Mediterranean islands. Archaeological research of Artemis and Apollos was done on these islands, and they found a lot of coins and sculptures with Greek influence. This is the source of the idea that Alexander the Great also went through the Greek islands."

The organisation is working with mythology, archaeology, architecture, art, languages, history, poetry, and also with the mythology of wine making, because many archaeologists are specialized on how the people ate and drank. Christodoulos is organizing the constitution of the organisation now for 16 years. All together, there are 5 people involved: cashier, vice president, and helpers, some from Ikaria and some from other islands.

In summary, Christodoulos aims to combine everything about Ikarian culture. He used to publish a magazine every 6 months, but after the economic crisis in 2008 he stopped. This winter, when he will return to Athens, he plans to start the magazine again. People are invited to participate with ideas and projects about making Ikaria a better place.

"There was a man. He went into a village and passed a cemetery. There, they had a vase next to the graves … The man was surprised, because every person died at a young age. There were stones in the vase. A man found out that every stone inside the vase meant a day of person being happy."

https://www.medland.life/

Released by MED Land project / photography, audio conversations, editing: BB / cover photo-selfportrait by Christodoulos / on-location team: Melania Gymonat, Kubilay Günther, BB / transcription: Kubilay Günther /text editing: Ivana Petan/proof reading: Tadej Turnšek / "making of" film: Kubilay Günther

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MED Land project BB
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Credits:

portret >Selffishstudio selfportret by Christodoulos, doc img Bojan Brecelj

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