Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Kythera Chronicles: The Bus

There was only one bus a day on Kythera and you had to ask when it was leaving because it never left at the same time. You had to ask a lot of people until you got a sense of maybe when it might go.  We wanted to go down to the end of the island, to Kapsali, where Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love, beauty and fertility had been born from the sea.  We'd heard the beaches were perfect, facing the Ionian and Aegean seas.  Maybe 9 maybe 10 AM they said
Kythera is very beautiful and was very hard to get to, just one boat a week.  But it had waterfalls at Mylopotomos (meaning a thousand springs) the Valley of the Lillies listed among its attractions.  Barbarossa had sacked a high fortress village here.
The bus was full of young schoolgirls in blue schoolgirl uniforms.  They were chattering and happy, it was the last day of school.
We walked up to Chora Castle, high over the beaches at Kapsali.  The beaches were two perfectly matched crescents forming the letter Omega, the Greeks said.  Swifts from the castle ramparts dived in front of our faces.  Not frightening but they had a particular one note scree, making it clear that this was their castle. We walked down to the beach and had a fish fresh from the sea grilled on a little charcoal fire with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, with a cold white wine.  It was a perfect day, but boring in the way that perfection is boring.  On the bus on the way back the girls who had been laughing and singing on the way over were silent and glum.  We asked why.  It was their final exam, today. Only the top six girls will get to go to University in Athens.  It was their only way off the island. Our paradise was their prison.  

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