A Trip to Greece, Part 4.

Sula does not approve of our plans to go for a hike.  "We like hiking," my mom and I tell her.  This does not satisfy her.  She complains to her sister Zenetta who translates for us.  "She says it's dangerous. There are lots of lizards." Mom and I laugh.  Zenetta is taken aback.  "It's true!" she says.  "I have seen one myself up there on the rocks."

"We will be very careful," we promise.

Sula lights a cigarette and tells a long story.  When she is finished, Zenetta translates.  "She says you should bring a big stick."

Zenetta insists on walking us down to the beach, to point out the trail that leads to a hidden cove.  "It will only take you 20 minutes or so.  It is a nice view.  Then you come back and take a nap."

We tell her we are going to hike for a few hours.

"A few hours?!  You will get lost!"

"We'll be back before lunch."

We find the cove and sit for a while enjoying the sound of the water rolling over the pebble beach.  We discover a road that leads up the hillside and agree to follow it.  We get grander and grander views of the Aegean Sea.  I leave my mom to climb down a rock face and investigate a little island attached to the mainland by a narrow strip of sand.  I wave to Mom from the island where there is a small shuttered church.  I walk around the church, find a walking stick, and climb back to Mom.

From the road, we see a very elegant white house perched on the top of the hill.  We decide to climb all the way up to get a better view.  The house is surrounded by a fence.  Behind the fence is a dog and a man working in a beautiful and vast cactus garden.  We say "Poli orea!" through the fence.  Turns out the man doesn't speak Greek.  We tell him we don't either.  He tells us his name is Nickolai and that he is German.  "We love your house," we tell him.  "We've been climbing towards it from the cove."

"I designed it myself," he tells us.

"And your garden is so marvelous," my mom says.  "Did you make the sculptures too?"

"Yes, all from driftwood."

"You are a wonderful artist."

The man lights up.  He yells up to the balcony where his wife is standing.  "Did you hear?  Me, an artist!"

He tells us that the road leads to a little village in the next cove.  We continue along the road and are rewarded with the most beautiful views of the turquoise sea dotted with islands.  In the little village, we find a small store right on the beach.  We buy sodas from the tall thin owner who smells like ouzo.  "It is Sunday," he says, raising his glass to us.

View from the store.

We check the time and decide that we better head back over the hill.  The sisters will be getting worried.  We retrace our steps but instead of taking the side trail to the hidden cove, we take the road over the ridge.  Aiga Anna spreads out along the beach.  "Hey," I say to Mom.  "Isn't that Zenetta?"  There is a dark figure, standing in the street with hands on hips.  "She doesn't look very happy," Mom says.  We wave and yell.  But the figure just turns and disappears into the house.

A half hour later we walk in the gate.  Zenetta and Sula are sitting on the porch smoking.  Sula crosses herself.  Zenetta leans towards us. "You have no idea what I have been through."

"We had a wonderful hike."

"I was calling everyone trying to find a car to drive up that mountain to look for you."

"Why?  We told you we would be out until lunch."

"But how did I know you wouldn't get lost?"

"Lost?  But there is only one road."

"There is?"

"Haven't you ever been over the ridge?"

"No," says Zenetta.  "Why would I go up there?"

We show them the pictures on Mom's camera.  Finally, Sula talks.

"What did she say?"

"She's surprised that it's just as beautiful as here.  She says maybe we will have to go over there someday.  But we will not walk like you foolish people.  We will drive in style."


  1. Meanwhile.....the alleyway and Big Daddy were busy with kids and worry, too. I forget, was it volcanic ash from another hemisphere that kept you there so long?

  2. Sula takes a deep drag on her cigarette and declaims at length.

    "What did she say, we asked".

    Zenetta seemed perplexed but after a bit more back and forth in sharp edged Greek sentence fragments she answered:

    "She says you were very fortunate to avoid the lizards. But how are you to know that you will not be stuck in Europe by a volcano eruption and forced to go to heathan lands were a revolution is going to break out any day? She says you are very foolish people and that she will stay home and take her chances with the emphysema which she does not believe in anyway because she is fairly sure that the doctor is a Turk and who can trust them at all."

    or something like that