After months of planning and numerous appeals from family members to the U.S. State Department, my cousin Nikos was finally cleared to travel from the island of Paxos to his “adopted country of Wisconsin.” Sure he’s got a few things to learn but his desire to visit America’s Dairyland, The Land of Badgers as he likes to call it, has come true. When I caught up with him at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, I was met by his camera crew. I don’t recall him ever mentioning anything about a camera crew coming with him. He insists otherwise. It seems he’s hired a production team to chronicle his travels and adventures (or disasters, as the case may be) throughout Wisconsin. He told me his dream is to host his own show on The Travel Channel along with having his picture taken with Bizarre Foods host, Andrew Zimmern. Andrew isn’t the easiest person to track down but I’ve made some phone calls.
Nikos also wants to attend a Wisconsin Badgers hockey game. I thought this was a bit random. I was wrong. Apparently most of their games are broadcast by a local cable station on Paxos. It was explained to me that he and a large group of friends routinely gathered in a taverna wearing Wisconsin hockey jerseys, drinking ouzo, eating lamb and watching their beloved Badgers throughout the season. And when the Badgers won, it was ouzo on the house. When they lost . . . it was ouzo on the house. The Badgers are big on Paxos. But not as big as ouzo. I don’t know how, why, or when the Badgers became popular there, but why not. Reportedly, the Minnesota Gophers are huge in Nepal.
Nikos, and his crew, will be staying on a farm in the St. Croix Valley region of Wisconsin. Cows, sheep, chickens, roosters, guinea hens, several cats and a dog will be very happy to welcome him. I’ll admit I have some concerns. The few times I visited Nikos on Paxos I never once saw him anywhere near a farm much less an animal. The one exception would be the ugly incident with the two goats waiting for the ferry to Corfu. The investigation is ongoing. Still, he insists a farm is in his “comfortable zone.” Wonderful. Stay tuned.
It was in January of 2009 Nikos found work in the United States for the first time, being hired by Boris Valnekoff at a Minneapolis jewelry store! And after being the Sales Star of the Month for both January and February, Boris used Nikos in the first radio ad ever produced for the store, The Ruby Guys.
The Ruby Guys