In the beginning we wanted to have 12 kids. We liked the number. A house full of kids. But in the end we stopped at 5. There is Thomas, who is 17 and he is the oldest, Michalis is 16, Daphne is 14, Zoe is 11 and the youngest, Lidia, is 9 years old.
When Eleni got pregnant with the first child, we decided to go back to Poros. This made me look for a new job there. 1999 was the time when the fire fighters department took responsibility for forests’ fires. Up until then it was in the forests authority responsibility. It was a very big project at the time. The firefighters department decided to offer 100 new jobs. They needed people and they started the application process. It included also physical skills. You would gather scores along the way. For instance you would get extra points if you finished high school, if you had driver’s license or if you had a foreign language degree. I managed to get in at that time.
I spent about 6 months in a firefighter school in Thessaloniki in order to learn the basics and by the year 2000 I was officially a firefighter here on Poros. You see, I’m the oldest and most experienced, together with my friend Yorgos, in the local department. All the new firefighters that join have high exceptions from us in terms of our experience. The truth is that you cannot teach this job. You can only learn from your own experience.
My biggest dream when I was growing up? I was always very interested in computer science. It was the time when information technology was on the rise. After I went to that high school in Athens, I did first lessons of programming. I had so many ideas, like creating a perfect programme for my mother’s grocery shop. My mind was always buzzing. I wanted to make life easier for people. Some of my colleagues that were also interested in technology went on becoming significant businessmen, like the guys that started Plesio. They are huge in Greece now. It was about being at the right place at the right time. As for me, I met Eleni at that time and you know, she was completely different. She wanted to make puppets and other things. She was into theatre, music, poetry. With her it was a different world. So I met her and I put a break in my life. I slowed down. I started walking in the mountains, learning about totally different things, more artistic and cultural. I also got an idea of studying again because of Eleni.
I discovered the Greek Open University in the second year of its existence. I started studying in 2002 when I was 28. There were 6 different degrees to choose from at the time. The one I chose to follow was in Greek culture and civilisation. There was also European culture and civilisation, Mathematics and Physics, Computer Science, which because of Eleni I was not interested in anymore. There were some other that I can’t recall now. I’m very proud and satisfied with my choice. Normally it takes about 4-5 years to finish this degree, but with the kids and some breaks that I took over time, it has taken me 14 years so far. I have one more year left. It will be a big party when I finish!
If I could turn back time, I would have become a doctor. I think I would have enjoyed it, it suits me, you know. I like helping people.