Aug 29, 2001

Astypalea.

It was Sunday when they awoke in Athens.
The air-conditioner was low on adrenalin and forced them out of their room. They walked to a pastry shop a couple of blocks away and had baklavas and Nescafe frappes. Athens was grey and dirty, the air pregnant with pollution.

They took a taxi to the airport. The plane was at one. It was tiny, too. Like something out of INDIANA JONES.



Chiara had her patch on and was radically chewing travel gum but felt queasy
nevertheless. The woman sitting next to Sergio
was praying and constantly crossing herself. It took an hour to get to Asytpalea. The plane landed on a tiny runway that ended on a cliff overlooking
the sea. Jorgos was waiting for them at the airport. Sergio went with him and Chiara and Cynthia took a taxi. A taxi to Katerina's.


The drive to Livadi from the airport was a 3D version of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Nothing virtual can outdo the real. Chora was there on the hill waiting for them.

It took a while to find Katerina and settle into their room. They washed and dressed for the feast of the island's patron saint. It was at Agios ....., a 10 minute walk from their room.

The priest was there to bless everybody. And after everybody was blessed, they ate soulaki and danced. There were musicians who sang songs of pleasure and of pain. Things like "the only friends I have tonight are the stars but they're far away".

Greek dancing is literary in that many dances have precise meanings. Women dance with women and men dance with men. If a man dances well, he's offered raki to continue dancing. Women, instead of alcohol, are given sweets. Maybe that's why many of them are fat. But the fatter they are, the more they like to dance. And who doesn't dance participates by clapping their hands and shouting OPA OPA.

The singing and dancing went on until 5am. But Chiara and Cynthia were tired. So around one, on a moonlit dirt road, they walked back to their tiny room.


The morning was the first to arrive. Around 9 Sergio and Jorgos went to rent a moped. Chiara and Cynthia had frappes and a tiropita at a little cafe on the beach were people were already playing tavoli.

They bought fruit and cheese for lunch. Sergio arrived with a moped that was in an advanced state of menopause. Finally ready, they headed towards Kastro.

The landscape was brown and rugged. The roads, rocky and winding. Chiara rode behind Jorgos and filmed nonStop. The boys were drivers but artists, too. So periodically they stopped to take photos. To include that peripherial version that's so often lost when you're in motion.

Photographs are proofs that you've seen what you've seen. The eye, too, has its ontological needs.

They finally arrived at the monastery. Agios Ioanni. The crazy woman they'd been told about was there. She was short and round and had only one front tooth . It was gold. She wore a green straw hat, a flowered dress, huge sunglasses, stockings but no shoes. Jorgos tried to photographer but she turned around and stuck her ass in the air and said SNAP THIS. They tried going down the hill but it was so difficult plus they only had one bottle of water to divide in four. The climb down was about 1 1/2 hours not to mention the climb back up.

So Jorgos, Sergio, Chiara and Cynthia decidided to go to another beach.

That's how they wound up at Ormos Katsidoni. It took only 30 minutes to climb down to the beach. There they found a grotto. It gave them shelter. It gave them shade.

After a swim and lunch (island cheese, bread, peaches, tomatos) and rationed water, they hiked back up the hill, got on their scooters and rode the dusty road back to their room at Livadi.

For a week they lived like this, frappes and morning walks, afternoon swims and evening ouzos. Until one morning, they woke up again in Athens.

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