Just days ago, Anargyros Mariolis was named best family doctor in the world for 2021 by WONCA, the World Organisation of Family Doctors. Over the past ten years, he has directed the local health centre in Areopoli, southern Peloponnese. In an article for Travel.gr, Dr. Mariolis expresses his thoughts, feelings and impressions on the area’s Mani peninsula, its people, the strength they fill him with on a daily basis, as well as the beauty of this very special part of Greece.
‘Beautiful Mani and us’
Mani. This is the place where sunset, sea turbulence and the elements of wild nature reconcile every day, gain fortitude, look at people with affection.
I accepted the [WONCA] distinction on behalf of Mani to help rebuild Primary Health Care in this specific region, moving fast to reciprocate. It’s emotionally stirring to offer health services at one of the most beautiful and remote rocks in the country. From the moment I arrived here, I reorganised my life in pursuit of a dream.
Anargyros Mariolis has directed the Health Centre of Areopoli over the past ten years/Courtesy: Anargyros Mariolis
Every day, the western winds of Cape Tainaron on the Mani Peninsula serve as my guide. Based, over the ten-year period, at this cape, with a view of the lighthouse, constantly illuminating the road of the seas, I, too, have sought my way towards humanity through the Areopoli Health Centre, which, all these years, has striven to reach its objectives. Being hopelessly in love with this remote region and its forgotten residents, I have focused, over the years, along with my associates, on the greater need for care, love and protection required by people.
Everything often merges into one – loneliness, danger and the necessity of my mission – for a doctor living in Mani. The love for this land is supreme. The duty and responsibility for medical services have been institutionalised by the people of Mani. Experience and knowledge gained though errors have established the need for a complete network of quality health services […] The foundations of my work are situated in the naked mountains of Mani.
Mani is a small place, but its history and tradition are enormous. It was passed on to us without interruption. Every time people meet, minds delve into the past and eyes gaze towards the future. The colours, music, romance, sea, dance and our conversations uninterruptedly connect us with the past. As was the case with me, the colours of Mani, the colour of the moon, are a special quality the location can offer to travellers. Visitors who stroll through the alleys of Mani, become acquainted with the place’s unique beaches and gorgeous settlements, sense a total freedom.
All these things I mention are etched on the faces of Mani residents. They are carried by the smiles of every man and woman in Mani…
After the first day, Mani will gradually open up to visitors, reveal itself. For us who live here, Mani contributes, every single day, towards a complete transformation of the conscience.
The light of this place emerges when the will of locals subsides. Heading up to Mesa Mani feels like you are returning to romance. On this land, it is impossible to not be born a romantic…Could Mani be the hidden paradise sought through passion?
Its alleys are fragrant and the sun is radiant, sweetly offering warmth and care that is spread all over and painted with golden colours at this seductive end of Europe. When wondering around Mani, visitors sing feeling reinvigorated.
I recommend that everybody gives the natural landscape of Mani an opportunity to offer its magic, and also explore its trails. Because, upon leaving this land, their souls will carry new nostalgia. When visiting Mani, individuals, already fragmented by everyday life, will feel that there are no missing pivotal corner jigsaw pieces as they begin to piece together a beautiful puzzle of images and feelings.
Areopoli. It’s lovely to live in a village filled with alleys, houses without numbers. Every village puts the memory and needs to the test. Sunset is a scintillating experience. From the top of Mount Taygetus to Cape Tainaron, the women and men of Mani have preserved that special quality given to them by the location’s rock and sea, shaping their uncompromising character.
Through my account of Mani, one may distinguish, in my welled up eyes, the stormy sea that has nurtured me; my awe of this land’s beauty and its teachings on how this beauty is built. Stone by stone, with abundant light, and a little water, I take the colours of sunset at Limeni and depict an image of the reality. I gain stamina from the ruggedness of the rocks at the coastal village Gerolimenas. The beautiful thing about Mani is that we have yet to learn its alphabet as, through offering services on a daily basis, new letters are added. Mani, through its history and beauty, every moment of the day, can seem like an oak tree or a lily. I am certain that all visitors, when leaving, will take with them many seeds wrapped in their handkerchiefs.
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