Wind in our Sails! Sailing the Aegean

Τ he trip started with a visit to the local drugstore… “Please give me everything dramamine-related you have. In big quantities!”. Inside my backpack the ship itineraries were already stored – better safe than sorry as they say. Why are you doing this, I could hear my mother say.

If we do not face our fears, who are we going to beat them? How are we going to enjoy life?

Now that I am back, I will be able to remember the big blue, the slow dive of the sun in the open sea and its emergence in the morning, the moon that lit the huge rocks of the bay we anchored at night making them look otherworldly, the bare and dry land of the small islands of Cyclades with the incredible small white houses, the village called Kimolos, ladenia and the wonderfully cooked eggplants, the enduro ride in Milos with the scooters that were ready to fall into pieces, ouzo at night, a dive in the sea at the first light, the company of the songs on the deck as Persides were falling in the sky.

~~~~~~~~~~~

It is almost midnight. I am walking at the old venetian port wearing short pants and flip-flops, a pack on my back and chewing gum. Travel gum. People around me are having fun, dancing in the music from the bars and night clubs. They look at me strangely. Inside me I murmur prayers to all the saints of the sea. I have never been on a sail boat before and I am not sure at all that the next several hours that I am going to be in the middle of the vast sea are going to be fun. The image of myself feeling seasick and throwing up is constantly in my mind. The rest of the groups arrives. Let’s go. No more prayers. I board the boat.

We set our course towards Milos. The sea as we leave port seems calm. Soon the sounds from the night life at the old port of Chania become a thing of the past. Only the wind on the sail, the water and the small metallic sounds of the boat can be heard. The stars are the sole source of light. Peaceful.

The salty breeze makes me feel sleepy. I’ll take over the morning shift I say to our skipper and go to bed.

Dawn. Somewhere in the Aegean sea.

There is nothing around. Just the endless blue.

I hold the steering wheel, making sure that I keep our course according to Christos’ instructions. It wont be long before stronger wind blows and he is back cheerful that true “sailing” starts now. I try to follow his orders but the marine terminology is something totally new for me. Frantzeska is far more experienced and understand ten things before I manage to decipher one. We are not speeding that much, but it feels great. At least I feel as if we are doing something great!

We reach Milos. As we approach from the south, the famous Kleftiko becomes the first stop of our trip. Apparently we are not alone. But as the time goes by, everybody leaves. The hot midday sun starts wearing its orange clothes and is getting ready to sleep. Not another soul around us. We are surrounded by these unearthly rocks that become huge, almost scary with the shadows slowly turning darker and their summits lit by a red light. The sea looks amazing and for the first time the serenity is almost magical.

Where am I?

The night falls. When I open my eyes again, the sun has returned bringing some glorious morning colors with it again. I try to find my camera. I look at the sea. Its call is irresistible and beats hands down any photographic quests. I find myself in the water. How would our lives be if every awakening was like that? Half of the coffee companies would shut down I joked to myself and got onboard for another dive.

We set sail before the new wave of tourists hits the place. We are heading towards Adamantas. We arrive by the afternoon and I step on land for the first time after almost two days. I feel shaky. Either the island is not stable enough or there is something wrong with me. I guess it must be the former.

It took some effort to find two scooters to rent. They are ready to fall into pieces but they keep going. The exploration of the island starts. Milos is wonderful. I keep on thinking that as an islander I do not travel to other islands. What a shame to miss such beauty!

Antonis sets our course. The fact that the scooters are at this bad shape makes us unstoppable. There is nothing to worry about and no fear that we are going to break them apart. Normal streets, goat roads, dirt tracks, small alleys, steps, nothing stops us. By the afternoon we have explored most of the island. As we sit at a taverna to eat something I keep pondering that the money spent on those scooters were so well spent with all the fun we had. Then some delicious plates started to gather in front of us and the scooter thoughts just evaporate to oblivion. The food is … wow!

I can barely move with all the food we ate and as we crumble back to the sailing boat we see the others ready to sail for Kimolos. Yay!! We sail to Kimolos! Perfect! Oups! Perfect? With all this food in my belly? Really? Two pills of dramamine immediately please!

A few hours later, it proved that I was again exaggerating… I simply hope that I put my fears to rest by the end of the trip.

It is already dark but that does not stop us. We get off the boat and go straight to Kimolos. I have never been here before and I actually have never heard anything about the island. Everybody else tells me that Kimolos is great and if I liked Milos, I am going to love Kimolos. The first encounter seems to verify their words.

Kimolos awakens memories of the past. Of the summers in my village when I was a child. The era that nothing was touristic, there was no fear, there were no electronic games and gadgets and in the TV you could only see the news – for us only the sea mattered and playing football all day. We would be out till night, until our grandmother would find us and started shouting that we were late again, complaining that we were becoming wild, small bums.

Next morning we sailed to Polyaigos. Crystal clear waters and tranquility. The place was practically of our own.

We return to Kimolos. Our chance to explore it by day. Milos was wonderful but Kimolos is the place to fall in love with. Maybe it was just me but every step in the island was something special. It seemed fit to our trip. The serenity of the sea seemed to expand into the land as well here.

And this serenity was not just a characteristic of the place. It was also part of the character of the people that we encountered here. We met noone in a rush. Everyone was smiling. Really smiling, as if they were happy, truly polite and not just being nice to the strangers in their land. The hot sun signaled the slowdown of activities during midday. The square of the village welcomed us under the thick shadow of a tree. The small coffee shop had ouzo to offer us. Happiness.

As the sun sets we look at the island for one last time and set sail for home. The sea is calm. We use the engine of the boat and therefore we move slowly. But this is not a problem, as there is no sail to narrow our view of the magnificent night sky. We gather up at the deck.

The stars start falling one after the other. It is the Persides falling. Someone started singing. After a few hours we had sang all the songs that we could remember.

The first rays of the sun find us just outside the port of Chania. It seems spectacular at sunrise. I feel ecstatic that I live in such a place. The view of the port from the sea is not something that I see frequently. However I am more amazed by how different it looks compared to anything that I had witnessed in the past few days. All these places gathered around the same sea, the same county and yet so different! How amazing it is to travel!

I get off the boat and I feel that the ground is shaking. I arrive at home. Inside a closed space it is even worse. It will take some time before everything becomes stable. The shower is the last stronghold of dizziness. But instead of making me feel seasick, it makes me smile. It makes happy for what I lived, for what I witnessed.

Good vibes. And good wind in our sails!

Andreas,
Somewhere in the Aegean Sea, 2014.

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