What a difference a day makes
AH, there she is.
At Last, with two short-legged dogs on leashes pulling her arms out in front of her along the boardwalk at Skala Eressos.
You’re looking good, she says, and stops and smiles at you.
Her face has brightened too, that’s for sure.
The antibiotics have kicked in and her flu has fled.
You stand together and chat.
The dogs leashes entwine and their tongues hang out as they romp and pant.
Nip. Yap. Nip. Nip.
You’re in Skala to do some shopping, buy air time, and draw money from the ATM.
Money? You can’t call rands money, not anymore.
You might as well have drachmas in your account for all the South African currency’s worth.
Better get out, fast, before Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters kick in.
They’re on the ascendancy, the men with their red berets and gung-ho attitudes.
Their policies mirror Zimbabwe’s — they’re all about Zanu-PF (101): land grabs, nationalisation, everything for all.
The tyrant and spectacular homophobe Robert Mugabe is their hero and mentor.
And, shock horror, they call the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, Helen Zille, they call her South Africa’s biggest racist, that’s how far out of touch they are; that’s the sort of lie they spin.
Enough of that, you think, as you count your euros. Ouch!
At the veggie shop, the one on the corner opposite Manos, you buy fresh fresh things straight from the young woman’s garden.
Mine, she says proudly, pointing at her chest.
She looks at her boxes full of produce jumping in juice and organic jolliness.
Crunch. They’re delicious.
It’s like entering another realm, being in Skala.
It’s a metropolis after the permeable quiet of your mountain village.
The place is popping, and the season’s not even in full swing.
Talk about a body buffet!
The shops are resplendent too, in their new coats of paint, and some are decorated on the outside with all types of art work in beautiful bright colours.
The beach caravans strain in their starting blocks and soon they’ll let rip too; they’ll open to sell their food and drinks.
My word, there’s even a blond-haired surfer type jogging along the shore.
His hair bounces in the wind.
Your Kouitou Hotel loves are sitting on the steps of their friend Sylvia’s Leather Shop in Skala’s cobbled main drag.
They’re a kind of beacon for you, Vasi and Alex, constants in the unpredictable sea of a burgeoning summer.
You ask the taxi driver to stop so you can run over to give them two kisses each; one on each cheek.
In Eressos, you start to prepare your stifado, beef stew Greek-style.
The phone rings.
It’s Miss T.
She’s sitting at Portakali sipping raki and ignoring a plate of Alexandra (the Great’s) mezedes.
The prowler scowler Mellie rushes at you. She’s talking talking, the little old thing.
Miss T is very protective and tells you to say hello, be nice.
You’re a stranger, after all.
So you tickle the dog and you are friends. Clearly it’s forever the way she’s wagging her tail.
Alexandra (the Great) fetches a key attached to a Vento pizzeria (and more) keyring.
She dangles it in front of Miss T, who takes it and hands it to you.
I suppose this means I trust you, says Miss T, for it is the key to her house, the one you will hire from July 20; the one you will share for two months with a Turkish sanyasa, Devi, you think it is.
It’s goddess, says the Kaftan One, at dinner.
She knows all sorts of things, the Kaftan One.
She loves your food, and your blog, and you can talk about books, which is what a librarian is about isn’t it, books?
The house is empty without Vento, who went to be spayed by the visiting vets.
The Pied Piper Miss G phones while you’re savouring the stew.
She has astonishing news.
The vets searched and searched but they couldn’t find anything in Vento — she’s already been snipped.
Mr T from Mytiline calls too.
There is not one Greek learner book in the four bookshops there. They have to order it from Athens, he says.
It will take a day or two, and that’s OK. You will see him on Tuesday, in the island’s capital.
After your meal, you take your friends on a walk, to show them the ruin you would like to buy and fix for the future.
Trust you to fall in love with a wreck.