A Long November Weekend

The weekend of 6 – 8 November 1993, on the island of Symi, Greece. Recorded in my diary of the time, when I taught ESOL there. The 8 November is the festival of Archangel Michael of Panormitis. The Greek Orthodox Church states that the miraculous icon of the Archangel Michael on the island of Symi is one of the four miraculous icons of the Archangel in the Dodecanese, Greece.

Saturday dawns and I still feel rough. My fever is running high, my voice is running away and my nose is just running. There’s a teachers’ lunch in Horio but I don’t go, instead I walk the few meters to the Vapori to sit with D for a medicinal drink. She has one, too. Prophylactic reasons. Back to the apartment, I listen to old cassettes to divert myself from unproductive hovering and feeling doom-laden. F comes round to tell me I’m getting better, she’s always right, so I must be. Apparently, my illness will pass by Monday. Have a hideously bad night’s sleep.

Despite this, Sunday comes and I am feeling better. Well, a bit anyway. I then contrive, through hovering-with-intent, to spend the day at a friend’s house. This helps me avoid housework very nicely until 4pm. Then, fed up with mess, I clean and tidy the apartment. In the meantime, even more people have left for the festival at Panormitis and the harbor area is becoming quieter. Further attempts at hovering-with-intent-to-be-invited-in fail miserably but I have a greater reward in going for a walk in excellent company with M and S, two of this year’s teachers. Not for the first time, I thank my lucky stars for this group of good people.

The three-day weekend rolls into Monday, and the harbor’s almost completely closed up as it seems the entire local population have headed off to the monasteries at Panormitis and Michailis. Elpida’s is the only cafe open. My fever has passed, F was (as ever) right. I have lunch with her and D. She’s cooked – it’s a lovely meal, washed down with heart-searching talk and retsina. I sleep soundly for two hours in my newly-cleaned apartment, woken only by a call from a student’s father. Him: Come and collect food. Me: OK. I go. The ‘food’ consists of two bottles of wine, something described as ‘marmalade’, and a lobster. Gotta love gratitude! By the evening, Pachos has re-opened. I go for drinks with S and H over from Lindos for the day’s festivities and we’re joined by some teachers. My Lindian friends are worried for my peace of mind and want me to leave with them. I won’t. I’ll stay. But I am tempted. Really I am. The urge to bolt is never far away.

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