22 August 2021

Continued

Map to show the location of Ios

....Fishing boats failed to appear and sunset was approaching. I was beginning to think that I would have to spend the night there with the rocks and sea waves breaking gently on the pebble beach that had become my prison. Fortunately, the cove faced west and I had my little shaving mirror with me. It had a diameter of perhaps three inches and sat in an orange plastic circle.

At about 7.30pm with the sun sinking low, I heard and then saw a little fishing boat, hugging the coast about three hundred metres off shore. Perhaps I wouldn't have to spend the night on the beach after all! I waved my T-shirt and shouted "Help!" at the top of my voice. Then I aimed the little mirror at the boat and the sinking sun beyond it. Jiggling the mirror ever so slightly I hoped that I would occasionally be reflecting the sun.

The boat moved between the two headlands - from left to right then disappeared. I was utterly dejected, believing that the fishermen had not spotted me but then the boat came chugging round the headland and I knew they were coming to my cove. They had seen me after all! I was saved. Rarely in my life have I known such relief.

Even though they only spoke a few words of English between them, I gathered that the three fishermen on board the simple blue and white boat were heading out for a night's fishing.  For several moments I thought I was going to have to spend the night with them and on a different occasion a Mediterranean moonlit fishing trip would have greatly appealed to me but that night I was hungry and had the thirst of a camel though they kindly shared some of their water with me.

As we passed it, I pointed out the beach that I had tried to get to that morning before indicating that I could walk back "home" across the island. They turned into the shore where I tried to give them money - "For bira, for retsina". They wouldn't take it so I shook hands with the the three of them and said  "ef karisto" (thank you) a dozen times or more. The skipper pointed out the rough track I would need to take to get back to Ios Town.  Though it was now nighttime, the vestiges of the day and the rising moon provided enough light to illuminate my  three mile trek.

I stopped at a well to drink from a wooden bucket and later stole a bunch of sweet grapes from a remote allotment. How lovely they were.

Once back at the port of Ios, below the main hill town, I went into the first taverna I reached and bought a 1½ litre of table water and a bottle of beer. After downing all of this liquid in thirty seconds or so,  I ordered a traditional Greek meal - fried egg and chips! It was so good and only cost me 65 drachmas.

Suitably refreshed, I walked back to Sunset or Koumbara Beach to sleep. Silver moonlight was now sparkling on the waves - such a beautiful sight to behold. I wriggled into my sleeping bag  feeling comfortable and just glad to still be alive when I heard a rustling behind me in my beach shelter. I grabbed my torch and twisted round and that is when I saw  - the rat!
Pictures I drew of my beach shelter  - August 1982

37 comments:

  1. After all of that, I don't think the rat would have been half terrifying...

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    1. He had been eating my crackers but I didn't want him to eat my eyeballs so I slept utside the shelter from then on.

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  2. That was going to be my next guess, beieve it or not, except I had you waving your white underpants at the fishing boat and its female crew.

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    1. I only have brown and white underpants.

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  3. I think you should have treated yourself to a decent hotel bedroom after that.

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    1. Back then I didn't have the money for such extravagances. Sleeping on beaches was free.

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  4. We your devoted readers can endure a Near Death Experience in an isolated sea-girt cove, narrowly averted by a shaving mirror and three noble fisherman.

    Like you we remember our days in the Aegean sun, when a fried-egg-and-chip supper cost no more than 65 drachmas.
    We share your gratitude and relief as you fell into a blissful slumber under the stars that filled Sophocles with wonder.

    But did you really need to spoil the story by bringing in rats?
    Know ye not how terrified we are of rats?
    Rats squeak and cheep and skitter, they have bright beady eyes and horrid darting tails !

    We still have nightmares about the Count of Monte Cristo, imprisoned in the Chateau d'if, that hellish island fortress off the coast of Marseille, and the cell he shared with slimy starving rats.

    Have ye no mercy? No more talk of rats, Sir, we beg thee !
    Haggerty

    P.S. And they pee every three minutes.

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    1. No wonder I could smell a rat!

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    2. Rats tails curl, they do not *dart* as Flaubert would have pointed out.
      In my postwar childhood chewing gum was said to be made from rats' tails.

      But let's get back to Ithaka, the blazing Homeric sun, and that lovely Phoenician goddess in a bikini I remember from decades ago.
      Reader, I married her. (Alas, not.)
      Haggerty

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    3. I have only seen Ithaka - from Kefalonia which was the inspiration for Louis de Bernieres' excellent "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"...well, excellent in my opinion anyway.

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    4. When Ulysses returned to Ithaka he saw his mother and rushed to embrace her.
      The black-cowled figure vanished into the air as shades do.

      Zachary Mason has written a Homeric sequel, *The Lost Books of The Odyssey* now a Vintage paperback. He invents Quickness from Nike the winged goddess.

      Quickness is the mortal enemy of death and fights many wars with death, all unresolved.
      She is worshipped on Mount Etna in the 18th Century B.C.
      By the 12th Century B.C. she has morphed into Pallas Athena.
      Quickness likes owls. So night is not associated with death in her eyes.

      *Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
      Arriving there is what you're destined for.*

      Cavafy would have rebuked me gently for giving Odyssey his Latinate name.
      Cavafy was nothing if not Greek.
      He died in 1933, the annus horribilis when Hitler came to power.
      Haggerty

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  5. WOW! That's a crazy adventure! You are so fortunate that boat found you -- good thinking to use the mirror. I had a similar incident with a cliff face once, but the consequences of not being able to climb it weren't nearly as dire as yours.

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    1. It really could have turned out so differently.

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  6. Whew! I'm glad the mystery of whether you survived is now resolved!

    Seriously, that was a frightening situation and you were lucky that boat with its three kind passengers came along. But I hardly need to tell you that.

    When did you write the account of your adventure, relative to when it happened - immediately, shortly after, or at some distance in time?

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    1. I wrote it the next day as I was sheltering from the midday sun in my beach shelter without a visible rat for company!

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  7. I, too, am happy to hear that you did indeed live.
    I wonder how many of us have had close calls like this? Where if one thing had gone differently, the ending would not have been a good one.

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    1. You're right. I know it's not just me.

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  8. The rat reminds me of my Coarse fishing days when I would look down and a rat would be eating the bran from my maggots box. I don't think I have ever moved so fast.

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  9. You were lucky. The mirror never worked on Gilligan's Island.

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    1. When I used that mirror I never imagined that it would work! It seemed like an episode from a boys' book of spiffing adventures! Thankfully, it did work!

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  10. I was quite relieved to know that you got off the beach but I don't like the rat that found you.

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    1. The rat happened to be called Keith. He was quite a nice rat really.

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  11. My husband, who is always right, once got us stranded on a flat rock by a cliff face for about 3 hours. We had crossed a gully from the main pathway for a sit down in the sun.( It was on the Island of Jersey about 20 yrs ago). The tide was coming in and I said we should go, but he knew it wouldn't come up that far. Sometime later the water was a gushing/rushing 6 ft deep in the gully between us and the way out! We were quite safe, but I was bloody fuming as we were missing our dinner apart from anything else!! On the way out we saw a small notice warning that the tide would come up and cut off the other side!

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    1. Why didn't you just relax and have a nice marital cuddle?

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  12. Well, that was something of a tame ending YP. Not that I'm not relieved that you were rescued by the kindly fisherman. Somehow I expected you to have been rescued by a coast guards helicopter or even someone in a fabulous yacht! Sevres me right for watching too many James Bond films!

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    1. I was the poor man's James Bond I'm afraid.

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  13. Phew! Glad you made it back to 'your' beach, thanks to the helpful and kind fishermen. I wonder if they still think of you every now and then. "Remember that night when we saved the crazy young Englishman..." - "Oh yes, I wonder what became of him!"

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    1. They probably refer to me as an idiot!

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  14. What a story! It reminds me of one of my favorite authors Edward Abbey who descended a side canyon of the Grand Canyon and got to a point where he couldn't go up or down but unlike you, there was no hope of a rescue.

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    1. So what happened Ed? Or was it fictional?

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  15. Thank goodness for the hospitality of the Greek people your story could have ended so differently

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    1. And thank God I was facing the setting sun. If I hadn't been I couldn't have signalled.

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  16. Yikes! I hate rats. Not a fan of mice either. I am very glad you got rescued.

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