The thought of escaping for a few weeks to a sleepy little Greek island with no cars and little activity was both compelling and inviting.
Tucked away in the old Sea Captain’s 150 year-old house, ‘Spiti Charlie’ up a crooked, shady lane overlooking the sea, I live the dream.Irini, the housekeeper has even moved the bed in the downstairs bedroom and placed a painted white table right under the window for me to write without missing a moment of the sea view with Greek fishing boats gliding through the expanse of aqua green returning to the old port with seagulls trailing behind.
Go out along the garden path of little black and white stones in Spetses motifs, dodge the flowering vines and pass pots of colour, and out through the front gate to a world somewhat more modern than desired. Noisy, small motorbikes weave along all the little streets and have me scurrying to avoid a collision. The locals are excellent drivers, often with mama riding side-saddle or baby propped up on dad’s lap, but visitors on bikes are a menace.
The construction on the island is unbelievable. Tourist numbers are down as with everywhere in these recessionary times, but people here a building new homes and renovating others. We take morning coffee and spinach pie sometimes down at the new harbour and see so many of the tradespeople working on the renovation of an imposingly grand old hotel befitting the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The concrete and sand is coming in on ships docked nearby and the streets around the harbour are as busy and dusty as in any capital.
Then there’s the battles with nature – mosquitoes and sea urchins. We were all bitten alive by mosquitoes in the first days and we all sport so many tiny red spots on our bodies. While the sea roiled and the wind roared outside, mosquito nets blew off while we were sleeping. Zappers in the wall didn’t do the trick. One of us was even seen standing on the mattress in the middle of the night killing the little blighters that had gathered in the top with a towel. What a bloody mess for the maids! We just lay there waiting for the terrifying bzzz bzzz sound of the dive-bombing, but like the brave Spetsian of old, with cannon at the ready, I purchased three blue spray cans of Baygon and peaceful night’s sleep returned.
The water is crystal clear and so inviting. The colour of green changes with the sun. The Turners are early starters but Edmundo and I go later and in the early evening. I lightly brushed my foot on what I thought was a rock yesterday but on getting out I felt what I imagined was a little splinter. I’d brushed a sea urchin, and unlike the English lady yesterday who told me of the baby octopus that attached itself to her foot and swam away, Edmundo and Pam had to ‘do surgery’ with a hot bucket of salty water and a hot needle. I live to tell the tale and none of the black dye and wounding that can come with a more serious sea urchin injury.
Anne and Trevor arrive today. We’ll have the horse and carriage at the dock to meet them after the long flight on Air Asia X from the Gold Coast. Then 2 more weeks!
Ahhh! I can take it.