Greece's economy has a human cost
Every time I land in Greece, I breathe in a sense of home.
But a country I once lived in and visited year after year has profoundly changed.
Until recently, I've never been there as a journalist, never asked questions through the lens of an observer, never heard the answers many are still struggling to find.
Greeks love to talk, and — as my cameraman often griped — talk too long, say goodbye too often. But every conversation was difficult to end. People were so eager to find an ear, to help them understand … how?
How did a country that seemed to be on the road to prosperity stumble so badly, bringing peoples' hope for the future with it?
I was shocked to see how many messages of betrayal and rage were scrawled all over Athens. How downtrodden parts of the city looked. There have been many protests — sometimes violent — all enraged at the government that spent way beyond its means.
Most of the Greeks I know — my extended family that still lives there, the friends I made along the way — lived ordinary lives.
Scavenging in dumpsters for food
Some are now drowning in debt. Others are struggling to survive without a job.
Five straight years of recession and rounds of austerity measures have crippled the economy, left once middle-class people scavenging in dumpsters for food at night, lining up at soup kitchens, or simply giving up.
The suicide rate in Greece is at an all-time high. The most shocking example was just last month when a retired pharmacist shot himself at Athens Parliament Square in broad daylight. His final note became a lament for a nation.
In it, he wrote that he simply could not afford to go on.
But life rumbles on here in the village of Mystras, dark and colourful at the same time and always, always full of advice.
In the place where my father was born, it literally took a village to help me tell my story. Cousins, relatives, strangers, everyone had an opinion and everyone felt it was their duty to share it.
Life has changed, they would say. There is little money, little hope.
But there was still a generosity to their spirit. When I asked if anyone knew a musician who could perform a song for our report, three showed up. They led us to a clearing in the forest and began to play near a centuries-old water fountain.
First a plaintive tune, then a hopeful one.