Running the Island

My three days on Symi are nearing an end, so I’m back at Elpida’s for ship’s biscuit – my boat sails in four hours and this time I’m going to be prepared. I’ve been able to keep my room until I leave for Rhodes, as usual. An Italian couple, who were supposed to take it today, took one look at it when they arrived on the morning boat and fled, making horrified noises. Truly, I did nothing to occasion this reaction. Really, truly.

It’s been a good, long weekend. When I arrived, it was on choppy seas so decided to spend the day in the harbour area, swim from the steps below the room, and relax. Just after settling down outside the room to read in the shade, two people (one man, one woman) ran past me at high speed. Given the afternoon temperature of 35 degrees (Celsius, US readers) and that I was perched at the top of one flight of vertiginous steps, with another two flights to clear to reach the top road, I was very impressed at their haste.

The need for speed was explained when an overweight man in yellow polo shirt (sartorial mistake), with two black pouch bags slung around him, appeared, far less swiftly, at the bottom of the steps. He whispered at me and gesticulated. I thought ‘weirdo alert’ and studiously ignored him. This did not work. He came up another two steps and said, louder and slowly: ‘Where. Are. You. From?’ I replied by pointing in the direction of Rhodes. Encouraged by this, he then said: ‘Do. Not. Worry. I. Am. Tax. Man’. Why Marvel comics did not feature this character became apparent when he puffed his way level with me and pointed in the direction of the long gone runners. I am told that arrests were made and that ‘Tax. Man’ and his colleagues have now left The Rock. In any case, yesterday still had to happen – so it did.

Saturday night, I’d spent time with friends discussing ‘What-do-we-do-if-it’s-still-choppy-out-there-tomorrow?’ I wondered if it was going to be another day swimming from the steps with ‘Tax. Man’ haunting the streets, while listening to Man U supporters sobbing into their beer. As it turned out, Sunday was plain sailing, so I headed to Agia Marina with two friends and we had a splendid time – catching the last boat back as the sun set behind The Rock. We did get soaked in the boat. We did not sing sea shanties (I was restrained).

In the evening, I ate late at Tholos – once again trying to be the last to order and once again being beat by a Greek couple. Close to midnight, a helicopter entered the harbour area and went straight to the landing pad – it emerged that a local restaurateur had suffered a heart attack and needed to be taken to hospital urgently. Luckily, he had received emergency medical attention on The Rock and the helicopter arrived in time to make a difference. I heard today that the patient is in a stable condition in hospital in Rhodes and that he may be moved to Athens for further treatment. Another reminder of the fragility of living on The Rock and the need for speed.

I wrote this for axrhodes on 02/09/2013

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