The next morning dawned bright and sunny with cool breezes blowing over bare skin. The relaxation and pleasure was just sinking in to my conscious when BAM BAM BAM. The gestapo had found me!

While Anne Frank made an escape down a gutter I crossed the room (which now looked remarkably like the balcony), wrapped towels about myself, and opened the door a crack while trying to hide the disarray with my body.

The Cousin stood outside, staring into my eyes, and, for a long moment, neither of us said anything. Then we spoke, all at once, gesticulating wildly.

The CousinMe
Whhyyyyyy!!!??I was hot!
A/C!!!!!Hot! No work!
Whhhyyyyyy!!??Hot!
Whyyyyyy!!???I fix!
A/C!!!!I fix! Hot!

And so it went. In the end, there was silence and then she narrowed her eyes, said, "I do not like!", turned, and walked away. Hurridly, I closed and locked the door.

Convinced worse was coming, I dressed and began rearranging the room. I went out onto the balcony and the discovered the matress had gained a good forty pounds during the night. While I was wrestling with it, I heard an all-too-familiar voice, "Whhhhyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!?" The Cousin was craning her head around the wall of the neighbouring balcony. I finally succeeded in wrestling the mattress through the door and back onto the bed, which is when I discovered the slats weren't nailed down. Thus, I found myself beneath the bed trying to get them back in place while that voice kept ringing in my ear.

Rearrange the tables. The chairs. Sweep. Sweep. Rush. Rush. Quick, pack bag. Brush teeth! All packed? Escape… escape…!

Key in hand I tracked down The Cousin in the next room over. I gave her the key and she said, "You go now." We regarded each other coolly for a moment before I replied, "No. You look now." We both marched over to my room, which was now in pristine condition. If there was disbelief in her eyes, if there was gratitude on her face, these passed quickly, subdued by one all-important, burning question: "Whhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy??!!!"

Finally, in the midst of reiterating our previous conversation, I try a new tactic: the truth. Looking upwards with a look of lost wonderment on my face I raise my hands and make scintillating motions as I say with deep reverence, "The stars…."

And then, dear Reader, the most amazing thing happened. The Cousin also looked skywards and, with scinillating motions, also said, "The stars…", at which point she began to apologise profusely, wringing my hand.

In the end, I disentangled myself, refused a second night's hospitality and wandered down to the town square to write a few quick letters.


Γαλλατιασ
A hop in the water taxi and some gesturing got me back to Ποροσ.
Ποροσ

That done, I thought about where to hide my bags for the day. The ferry office where I inquired about this told me I could leave my bags beneath a couple of plastic deck chairs in their open-air lobby. And that's what I did, though it was clear no one was paying too much attention to their safety.

I went to a little cafe and had breakfast, relaxing.

So many scooters!
Then it was time to walk…
I passed through little streets filled with little shops and small masses of people…
Up little alleyways and streets past houses no car would ever pass…
Past more of Greece's free-roaming animals…
Right up to the very top of the island.

There was a little church there. I went inside and soaked up some incense and holiness from the thousand or so icons on the walls before continuing my journey. For I wished now to go to the other side of the town.
For I had seen a less-crowded peak there.

For some reason, I was very fatigued. After roaming all summer I found myself wanting to just sit down. To stop, to rest. So I did. Around me life went on and I listened to the sounds of normal people living normal lives while I enjoyed a momentary respite from a very different sort of existence. Or, in the end, was I just like them, but deludeding myself? Or, were they like me, but enjoying a respite of their own?

After a very long time I left these quandries and that peace behind; passing a tethered donkey, I climbed up onto the hilltop.


Γαλλατιασ     I could see the whole island     Ποροσ

And it was there, at the far end of that hilltop, overlooking the Aegean, that I found a little church. There are two sorts of buildings which I believe should never be locked: churches and libraries. Every church I tried to enter in Greece was unlocked.

I relaxed behind the church on the rocks, looking down over the cliff. That is, I relaxed until I found a snake skin which reminded me things aren't always as safe and relaxing as they appear.

I descended down a very steep path passing a little "bonasi church" as I went. These appear with lighted candles and icons on roadsides where people have died. What, I wondered, did its presence here indicated?

At the bottom, I found myself walking along pristine blue waters where the surf rolled and boiled amongst rocks. Rounding the corner of a cliff I found myself heading towards a small, picturesque church set next to a large cross on the edge of the water.

Two men were white-washing the church wearing old-fashioned vests. As I approached a third man ducked out through the church's doorway from its dark interior. Clad all in black, bald, and sporting a huge beard, the priest turned and strode towards the water's edge carrying a pop bottle, a coffee cup, and two glass beer bottles in his hands. Wtih infinite dignity he reached the water's edge and cast one of the beer bottles out unto the rocks. The glass chinkled as it shattered. He cast the second beer bottle and it to shattered by the surf. Pausing to breath deeply of the salty air, he then cast the pop bottle. The coffee went next and then he paused, regarded the coffee cup, and cast that too. Turning, with infinite dignity, he solemnly returned to the church from whence he came.

When I could close my mouth again, I found that I wandered, in shock, to an ice cream shop and was having a cone.

It was time to leave. I retrieved my bags and boarded the ferry. The captain was waiting for me on board. Did I have a good stay, he wanted to know. I assured him that I had, leaving out some minor details.

Christine and I were planning on meeting that evening and we hadn't finalized our plans. As the ferry pulled away I tried desperately to get an internet connection so I could Skype her, but to no avail. Dozens of locked networks laughed at me while my computer tried to contact the faint free ones to no avail. With a rumble of engines we pulled away and all hope of contact faded.





But Jonathan was along and soothed my worries.


Jonathan

Johnathon finally abandoned our boat to pursue his art elsewhere. At the next port, I tried again to contact Christine. No luck. Finally, I managed to borrow someone's cellphone. We would meet, Christine told me, at the bus station. As it turns out Athens has two of these, but I happened to have the schedules along. I would have only forty-five minutes or so after the ferry landed to rendezvous with her before the bus left. I told her I would be the first person off the ferry!

True to my word I got below decks early…
…to wait with these people.
The back deck began opening well before we docked and my fellow passengers began edging forwards. But I can move very quickly…
…and when Ο Χάρι Πότερ (Harry Potter) showed his face I sprang into action.
The taxi driver let me sit up front with him and we spoke about the Elgin Marbles and iconoclasm as we swung past the Parthenon to the bus depot.

Passing through a part of town which reminded me for all the world of Bombay, we arrived at the bus depot. No Christine.

But I was early - but fifteen minutes! I wandered around. Still no Christine. As the minutes ticked by I began trying to borrow cellphones, but, suddenly, no one could speak English, understand my Greek, or even gesticulate. I drew an inspired picture of my borrowing a cellphone and thought that two older ladies understood, as they rumaged through their purses, but, in the end, they were only pulling out glasses. Use the pay phone, they told me.

I tried, but the pay phone only took cards. I tried my credit card, but it only took phone cards. I tried to buy a phone card, but the clerk didn't understand me.

And then, in a cloud of exhaust, the bus pulled away and I was alone. Alone in Athens.

I walked away from the bus depot, found a signal, sat down, and called Christine. She too had missed the bus, but would still meet me at the station. Shortly thereafter, we met up at the bus depot - after months of planning, thousands of miles, and several adventures it had all worked out.

We were both stressed, so we had some pasta at the Greek equivalent of a McDonald's, though the food there was much better. Later that evening we hit up the bus to Λάρισα (Larissa), seating ourselves in the first seat on the upper-level, where we could see the road and, occasionally, ghostly silhouettes of the coast. On the way we talked about life and everything, bought ice cream at a rest stop, and Christine taught me all the Greek words for fruits. It is a drive I was too tired to remember in detail, but one which had an overall feeling of satisfaction about it.

Arriving in Λάρισα, it was just a short walk to her house, where I had a pallet on the floor.




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