Island Scents

So here we are…hemmed in again but not oppressed. Mountains on three sides and the quay with shops and tiers of white cubic apartments on the fourth. The forecast is for rising winds and gusty gusts throughout the night but we are prepared. Thankfully Simon’s on-going scrutiny of the internet has given us ample warning and we are secured and able to watch the antics of yachties looking for a safe haven.
We remember this harbour well…having many times sought her shelter and equally often have enjoyed generous outstretched arms receiving our hastily thrown lines. Tonight we were able to repay the kindness and welcome several to the quay.
The thick portentous clouds have been black and billowing over the mountains for a few hours now, huffing abuse at the little harbour then slumping below the sight line to re-group before rising up in another swell of mockery and menace.
The Cyclades are well used to this unpredictable behaviour and our new Italian friend Ernesto calls it a ‘paradise for sailors’ because there is always wind! The weekly guests aboard his 50′ Catamaran of which he is the new skipper may not be so charmed. Indeed we see them shrieking with merriment in the evenings and tripping off to the pharmacy for ‘pills’ the next day.
For me? I chew ginger.
However it is still very lovely and whilst embarking on the steep climb to the hora…or main town..we constantly stop to admire the stunning views or some very specific plant or curiosity. Today the ascent was peppered with little winks of delight; a very elderly lady who just happened to look up and laugh from her courtyard below the track, the song of an unselfconscious violin carried through an open window, brilliant red poppies, self seeded into patches of scrub, tiny blue doors in low walls, an endless shuffle of shabby shutters each one full of story and unique, a poster advertising the art festival of 2015 and the closed, silent school.
Quiet, so quiet, then a single radio or tv, just the one.
The winding road has to be crossed after each flight of steps, only a few cars passed us and one motorbike carrying a gutsy passenger,glamorously upholstered in shiny pink lycra. We marvelled as the bike enthusiastically leant into the bend, whilst our unconcerned lycra lass continued to send vital texts!
There is a very special Greek aroma which, as today, suddenly is there, engulfing the moment, causing us to stop, look around, remember, sigh with pleasure. We instantly recall it from stepping out of aeroplanes onto hot metal staircases, from walking rough tracks and climbing rocky peninsulas, always unexpected always wonderful. Basking in this pleasure again, we pondered the ingredients; maybe a sun drenched but sour dose of fig leaves, some roadside fennel, a little background sweet jasmine, bitter unidentified wild herbs and weeds plus many floating notes of geranium, rose and bougainvillea. Always at its most powerful when heat borne or trapped by the warmth of surrounding rocks.
Our favourite little bar had just opened as we reached the first plateau of activity so we settled down to the best touristic sport of people watching and asked for two ouzo meze. The bespectacled proprietor brought us water then popped across the street to purchase the necessary ingredients before presenting us with two generous drinks and a little plate of rusks, cheese, cucumber and olives. Quite a perfect reward for a long walk.

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