Roos Gruwel and Barbara Giannakou-Teunissen have both spent over twenty-five years on Thassos,
a Greek island in the North Aegean sea.
Roos travelled to Greece and the Balkans as a student, in search of new worlds to explore. After an education in biology and Dutch language and literature, she worked in secondary education for seven years. When the smaller schools started to disappear, she decided to migrate, and live closer to nature. In 1987, she came to the island of Thassos, together with Truus van der Mast. They initially worked in hotels. After a few years, Roos boldly went and started a hiking business. She wrote a hiking guide in three languages, and guided groups from Western Europe. She knows the hiking routes on the island like the back of her hand. She actively took part in the live of the islanders, which involves the olive harvest, folk dances and gathering food from nature.
Gradually she learned how these people live in - and along with – nature, which yielded great stories, to share with guests in the hiking groups. To immortalise this valuable body of knowledge, writing this book came as a natural course of action. When Truus passed away, the development of this project stagnated. Luckily she came to meet Barbara and they soon decided to write this book together.
Barbara studied Spanish language and literature and spent thirteen years as a social-cultural worker for Spanish immigrants in Utrecht, the Netherlands. She moved to Thassos in 1989, together with her Greek husband, returning to his birth place. Going from city life to an outdoor life on a Greek island village is a great transition. She worked here as a Spanish teacher and as a representative for Dutch and German tourists. In her own words: “I have always been a villager. I was born in a village at the Veluwezoom, at the boundary between the forests and fields. I learned to widen my gaze to other countries, and travelled through Western Europe and Latin America at a young age. I love to communicate with people of all ages, professions and cultures. The human being has always been a central theme in my travels, but outdoor life has been a great appeal too. Taking care of your own food, physical activity, having time and taking time, for everything, for a chat with the neighbours, a hike, a book, making music, preparing food, and good company. Over here, I have been cooking Greek food from the first day onward. Nature and the islanders taught me a lot. It is the least I can do, to pass some of this on to others.”