Small Change

We have just spent six days anchored in a wide, mostly empty, bay. Our first visit here was considerably shorter and the isolation was accentuated by grumbly north winds tumbling down the hills and grumpy fists of dirty fat clouds punching overhead.
Yes, the weather certainly does affect moment and mood but now, a few weeks later, the annoyance of huffy winds was outweighed by the joyously warm sea and elasticated hours of summer sunshine.
For a couple of days we were joined by a pair of ‘off the grid’ mates and had a great time exploring the abandoned stone works which proudly fringe the shore. In one old shed we discovered an enormous tortoise, so helpfully relocated him, then scrumped a few early almonds before sharing market wine with fat green olives in our cockpit. We were sorry to see these happy-go’s sail off and Kezzie instantly missed the extra attention.
Of course we love little periods of solitude but these must be liberally spiced with people-mingling, so after a few days we motored a little and once again joined the snap, crackle and pop of hot sailors cramming their boats against a gritty quay.
Stocking up (or victualling as the purists would correct) involves many visits to small local businesses and with each one we aim to make a relationship, however fleeting.
The stationary lady where we buy ( lots of!) notebooks, pens and stickers for the kids, teaches Greek and rewards her students with novelty erasers. The greengrocery family have a brand new grandson and keep better lettuce for favoured clients whilst the new spice girl seals little packets of exotics before carefully handwriting the names on enormous sticky labels.
There is always one outfit which poses a greater challenge and here, as in many villages, it is the hardware shop.
Stacks of huge empty olive oil tins menace on one side of the open door whilst a conspiracy of buckets, brooms and precariously displayed wheelbarrows flank the other. There is frequently a hungry stray dog ( of which Kezzie is very afraid) pretending to sleep ,in mostly, the remaining space before the door.
Well, the reasonably priced goodies which must surely be imprisoned within this fortress frequently call to us and we take it in turns to brave the warders stationed just inside.
Two recent visits come to mind.
I had the temerity to seek corks ( for spice jars) and took one with me to be clear what I wanted. Unfortunately I had chosen an inconvenient time as the lady owner was simultaneously chatting to a friend on the phone whilst signing some delivery papers for the hot smart courier chap, who was keen to rejoin his air-con, faithfully warming the kerbside.
When eventually my disgruntled host turned her attention to my needs she seized the cork and rummaged.
With intuitive and superhuman restraint I followed for a mere metre into the glorious depths of her cave, anxiously monitoring every tip, tilt and incline of her head and hands.
Desperately longing to join her as she paddled and peered into her marvellous history of stock, I patiently swayed on the backs of my worn flip flops and waited.
Suddenly with a triumphant exclamation of memory she pushed past me and grasped a blue opaque bag of bags, buried deep beneath a tangle of dusty hose piled upon camping gaz cylinders, opposite her desk.
From within this capacious plastic sack she withdrew a smaller, even dustier bag of corks!
Oh joy!
In my best Greek I requested 6, which, carefully aided by a chunky calculator was pronounced to be a modest 3€.
With great relief that the challenge was nearing completion I proffered a 5€ note. And smiled encouragingly.
Oops! Wrong!
‘Ochi ‘( no) ‘tria (3) She steamed.
Psignomi ( sorry) I beamed, hoping to alleviate her obvious distress with a goodly dollop of humour whilst upturning my empty purse to prove the hopeless state of my resources.
With enormous reluctance but admirable determination kyria delved into her ancient till and plucked 2 shiny Euros from the top of a gleaming pile. Transaction complete… retreat possible.
Can anything match the addictive challenge of an indigenous hardware store?
The daily giving and receiving of cash is just one of the glorious Greek games of catch me (out) if you can which make shopping here a sport for the good humoured brave.
To complete the provisioning project Simon later embarked on his own little visit to our friend, heroically carrying a monstrous 50€ note with which to purchase an 8€ gaz cylinder.
In record time he was back on the boat whistling merrily and reporting the friendliest purchase ever!
Probably because he is a descendant of Alexander the Great!

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