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, 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 during the Perseids meteor shower.
It was almost midnight. I was walking at the old venetian port of Chania wearing short pants and flip-flops, a pack on my back and chewing gum. Travel gum. People around me were having fun, dancing at the rhythm of music coming from the bars and night clubs. They looked at me strangely. Silently, I murmured prayers to all the saints of the sea. I had never been on a sail boat before and I was not sure at all that the next several hours that I was going to be in the middle of the vast sea were going to be fun. The image of myself feeling seasick and throwing up was constantly in my mind. The rest of the group arrived and I kept these thoughts to myself. No more prayers. I boarded the boat.
We set our course towards Milos. The sea as we left the port, seemed calm. Soon, the sounds from the night life became a thing of the past. Only the wind on the sail, the water and the small metallic sounds of the boat could be heard. The stars were the sole source of light. Peaceful.
The salty breeze made me feel sleepy. I’ll take over the morning shift I said to our skipper and went to bed.
Dawn. Somewhere in the Aegean sea.
There was nothing around. Just the endless blue.
I held the steering wheel, making sure to keep our course according to Christos’ instructions. It wouldn’t be long before stronger wind blew and he was back cheerful that true “sailing” would now begin. I tried to follow his orders but the marine terminology was something totally new for me. Frantzeska was far more experienced and always several steps ahead as I struggled to decipher each order. We were not speeding that much, but it felt great nonetheless. At least to me, being such a novice sailor!
We reached Milos. As we approached from the south, the famous Kleftiko became the first stop of our trip. Apparently we were not alone. But as the time went by, everybody left. The hot midday sun started wearing its orange clothes and was getting ready to sleep. Not another soul around us. We were surrounded by these unearthly rocks that became huge, almost scary, as the shadows slowly turned darker on them and their summits were lit by a red light. The sea looked amazing and for the first time the serenity was almost magical.
Where am I?
Night fell. I closed my eyes and when I opened them again, the sun had returned bringing some glorious morning colors with it again. I tried to find my camera. I looked at the sea. Its call was irresistible and beat hands down any photographic quests. I found 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 hit the place. We headed towards Adamantas. We arrived by the afternoon and I stepped on land for the first time after almost two days. It felt shaky. Either the island was not stable enough or there was something wrong with me. I guess it must have been the former.
It took some effort to find two scooters to rent. They were ready to fall apart into pieces but they kept going. The exploration of the island started and Milos wonderfully revealed itself to our eyes. I kept on thinking that as an islander I do not travel to other islands. What a shame to miss such beauty!
Antonis set our course. The fact that the scooters were at this bad shape made us unstoppable. There was nothing to worry about and no fear that we were going to break them apart – they were already broken! Normal streets, goat roads, dirt tracks, small alleys, steps, nothing stopped us. By the afternoon we had explored most of the island. As we sat at a taverna to eat something, I kept pondering that the money spent on those scooters were so well spent for all the fun we had. Then some delicious plates started to gather in front of us and the scooter thoughts just evaporated to oblivion. The food was… well… wow!
I could barely move with all the food we ate and as we crumbled back to the sailing boat we saw that the others were ready to sail for Kimolos. Yay!! Off 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 hoped that I at some point before the end of the trip I would be able to put my fears to rest.
It was already dark but that did not stop us. We got off the boat and went straight to Kimolos. I had never been there before and I actually had never heard anything about the island. Everybody else told me that Kimolos was great and that if I liked Milos, I was going to love Kimolos. No need to say that the first encounter totally verified their words.
Kimolos awakened memories of the past. Of the summers in my village when I was a child. The era when 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. I could see my child self at the faces of the children running around us.
Next morning we sailed to Polyaigos. Crystal clear waters and tranquility. The place was practically to ourselves.
We returned 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 set we look at the island for one last time and set sail for home. The sea was calm. We used the engine of the boat and therefore we moved slowly. But this was not a problem, as there was no sail to narrow our view of the magnificent night sky. We gathered up at the deck.
The stars started falling one after the other. It was the Perseids meteor shower. Someone started singing. After a few hours we had sang all the songs that we could remember.
The first rays of the sun found us just outside the port of Chania. It seemed spectacular at sunrise. I felt ecstatic that I live in such a place. The view of the port from the sea was not something that I saw frequently. However I was more amazed by how different it looked compared to anything that I had witnessed in the past few days. All these places gathered around the same sea, the same country and yet so different! How amazing it is to travel!
I got off the boat and I felt that the ground was shaking. I arrived at home. Inside a closed space it was even worse. It would take some time before everything became stable. The shower was the last stronghold of dizziness. But instead of making me feel seasick, it made me smile. It made me happy for what I had lived, for what I had witnessed.
Good vibes. And good wind in our sails!
Somewhere in the Aegean Sea, 2014.