The next day I am woken by the stiffness in my back and the rain tapping on the tent. The little fruitarian runner performs a soft but lengthy training and then seems to go back to his usual meditative state.
When we build up the courage to get out of the tent, we are greeted by a beautiful rainbow rising above the sea and the rain stops just in time for us to get our stuff back in the car, have a small breakfast standing next to the car and head for the harbor to catch our ferry. Not before we study the orange flowers of a small tree whose buds look like fruit. When they reach maturity, their shell cracks and the flower explodes in the outer world. I declare it a unique phenomenon: having fruit before the flower. My travel companion says they’re just buds.
The two and a half hour ferry ride is far from spectacular, except for the sight of a beautiful dolphin springing seemingly from under the ferry and swimming away. The cool breeze is relaxing and the clouds tucked into one another like sheep in a sleeping herd are a spectacular view accompanied by the intense ultramarine blue of the sea underneath.
We spend almost the entire trip outside on the deck, determined to resist the cold wind and spot dolphins and countless shades of blue both above and below. Up on the deck we seem to be in a state of limbo, suspended between two worlds, traveling from the continent to the island.
When the arrival time approaches, we move to the left side of the boat and finally see the island: a high mountain in the middle of the sea. A thick blanket of clouds is covering the shy peak, hiding it from that shameless touristic gaze cast by so many pairs of eyes on the ferry.
Our host, a dark skinned, thin Spanish lady in her forties, Carlota, has written to me on WhatsApp and is now waiting for us “by the big green container on the right of the harbor”.
“I came here nine years ago with Erasmus, fell in love with the island and never left. It’s a very powerful place”, she confesses and, noticing the blue scarab locket on her necklace and remembering her meditating clay frog picture on WhatsApp, it all makes sense. We are of the same kind.
We then follow her car to her husband’s family’s place and I immediately fall in love with the beautiful stone paved garden, with its two small tables, trees packed with ripe fruit and the huge geraniums and begonias in bloom everywhere. We get inside and she offers a studio with a kitchenette instead of the small room I booked online.
“I can give you something bigger for the same price. Since we are free, why not. Here, this one has a balcony and this one doesn’t. Choose the one that you like.”
We make the choice, but change our minds after she leaves and eventually move into the room with a balcony – it’s prettier and more luminous. The house has a kitchen and it looks like an old family house turned into a small motel. The owners, her parents-in-law, still live upstairs.
After she leaves, they arrive home and park their utility van next to our car. Her mother-in-law starts calling her name, so I take the opportunity to get out on the balcony and practice my Greek, since I have been warned by Carlota that she speaks no English at all. I say hello and explain that her daughter-in-law is not there. I am rewarded with delicious, freshly picked apricots and a big smile.
We later get out of the house, in between heavy showers, in search of the bakery. We find it much later and it is closed, like pretty much everything else around here, actually.
“It’s still low season”, Carlota warned us as soon as we stepped foot on the island.
Since we come across no open shops, we pick fruit from the trees lining the road, so by the time we get back to the house, still without a map or food, our stomachs are full of apricots and sour cherries. The little fruitarian runner is satisfied.
“What shall we do next?”
“I know, let’s take a nap!”
And, with the soothing sound of the heavy rain hitting the leaves in the garden, one third of us does just that while another third is meditating and the third third fixes the blog and starts posting.
At sunset the rain decides to give us a break and sheep are grazing peacefully in the neighboring garden and I realize for the first time we have a view of the sea from the balcony. It is not so obvious, since the eyes are tempted to stop at the trees separating the two gardens in front. The water is now shining under the setting sun and cannot escape my vigilance.
At sunset we get out and see how islandy it looks from the harbor. We eventually find some shops open and get what we need. The shopkeepers are bored and still have not activated their tourist-attracting mode.
We have dinner on the balcony – salad and cheese and make plans for the next day. It’s been a weird, rainy day. Perhaps sensing my uneasiness, the little fruitarian runner is very discreet with his evening training.