Tag Archives: Ships

Castellorizo

“Do the words ‘ella sphinx-a-tinkath-yassu’ mean anything to you?,” I ask Terry, my new Greek friend, over dinner on the waterfront in Koroni. I’m embarrassed by the words I’m saying, which sound like nonsense to my ears, something about a sphinx and tinkerbell.

“Yes,” he answers immediately, surprising me. “It means…” he pauses, trying to think of the correct words in English, “Come, make your heart tight.”

“Tight? Are you sure?”, I ask, needing clarification. He looks out to sea, and rephrases:

“More like strong. Come, make your heart strong,” he says, clenching his fist emphatically. His action makes me feel more confident that what he is saying is closer to a true translation of my Yiayia’s words.

One week after the Greek lesson in Koroni, I’m still thinking about the words of my Yiayia. ‘Ella sphinx-a-tinkath-yassu’. Richie and I are hanging over the rails of a Blue Star Ferry. It’s the 24th hour of our voyage from Piraeus, and the tiny island of Castellorizo is coming into view.

The island has its back to us, a collar of rocky mountains turned up against the heat and glare of the afternoon sun. A deep scar runs across its shoulders, a road purpose-built for army vehicles. The boat is enormous, and Castellorizo, less than 12 square kilometres, is tiny! We wonder how the captain is going to bring the ship into port.

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Port Life

Both my mother’s and father’s family have an intimate relationship with water. I share their love of the sea – so it was a great joy for me to be by the ocean in Essaouira, Morocco for a couple of weeks in February.

Richie and I arrived in Essaouira off the back of 3 hectic days in Meknes. Within a day or two of arriving we had imbedded ourselves in the local community: found some hole-in-the-wall places to eat and drink. Richie caught up on his Permaculture Diploma work and I took long walks on the beach.

During those walks I learned to put my head down and ignore the local touts whose aim it is to get your ass into their camel/horse’s saddle (all for a price): “Bonjour. Hello Madam. What are you thinking?”

When the state of the beach got me down (plastic everywhere) I wrote a letter to the council. The locals must have thought I was mad, trailing sacks of refuse behind me, tugging plastic bags and yoghurt pots from seagulls’ mouths. I became an angry walker! It didn’t stop me from enjoying the fresh air and the sand between my toes. I even considered having  a swim (I didn’t – sorry Aunty Zeny).

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