“The Greek Earth opens before me like the Book of Revelations….The light of Greece opened my eyes, penetrated my pores, expanded my whole being.” Henry Miller – ‘The Colossus of Maroussi’
It was my own fault for not checking before booking but the only thing that let the accommodation down was the lack of air-conditioning that we have all become used to which meant having to use excessive quantities of mosquito repellent before going to bed, a couple of electric plug-ins by the bed side and sleeping with the balcony windows open which was quite safe because we were on the third floor of a cliff face but this of course didn’t stop flying things from dropping by to join us.
Early one morning I was woken by a calamitous din which sounded as though someone was using a pneumatic drill inside the apartment and I leapt out of bed to see what on earth was happening and there clinging to the net curtains was a shiny cicada looking as though someone had coloured it in with a luminous green highlighter pen. It was belting out its first screeching song of the day and the sound echoed around the tiled surfaces of the apartment. The noise was awesome but it did at least stop as I approached it and gave it a closer examination.
It was a weird looking beast, like something from an alien world with gently waving antenna on its head, bulging eyes on the top of its fat ugly head, translucent wings and six legs each with a hooky thing at the end by which it remained firmly attached to the curtain. I didn’t seem to alarm it at all and it peered at me as if to taunt me about I might intend to deal with it.
If you believe the exaggerated tales of Gerald Durrell in ‘My Family and Other Animals’ I would have followed his brave example now and scooped the thing up without any fear and then released it but then I’m not that brave and I don’t actually believe that the ten year old Gerald Durrell was either.
I flicked the curtain to try and dislodge him and out onto the balcony but this first plan backfired badly as it jumped the other way into the apartment and onto the table. I pursued it and it leapt onto the kitchen worktop and it turned out to be much more nimble than me because every time I got close it just quickly moved position until it made the fatal mistake of going into the bathroom and landing on a plastic make up bag and unable to get a grip on the greasy contents fell inside.
Rather like Indiana Jones I was totally fearless now that it was trapped and I closed the top between my fingers and carried it out to the balcony at arms length where I released it and invited it to fly away but it refused to go over the side and instead jumped backwards and attached itself to the back of a patio chair from where it refused to budge.
At least it was outside now so I closed the balcony doors and went back to bed certain that it would soon be gone. Well, as soon as it had recovered from the ordeal of the chase it started its tymbal racket once again and there was no chance of sleeping through this so I was dispatched back outside to do the job of shutting it up properly. These things can live for up to seventeen years so I didn’t want to harm it but there was no easy way of dislodging it so I had to hang the chair over the balcony and shake it violently until it finally got the message and dropped off to the ground below where it promptly started to screech again!
So, it was an unexpectedly early start that day and so began a routine of a balcony breakfast followed by a morning at the beach where we played for a while, then walked for a while searching for driftwood and other suitable model boat building materials washed up by the sea and then rested for a while listening to the occasional drone of an outboard motor, the melodic flapping of pedalo paddle wheels and the gentle plop or rowing boat oars spearing the limpid sea until it was time to take shelter in the taverna and order a bottle of Mythos.
In the afternoons we would visit the swimming pool and then rest and for the first three days this is how we arranged our time as the days went by slowly in a time loop of glorious weather, children amusing activities and taverna dining.
It’s strange how the first few days of a holiday seem to go by slowly but then things begin to speed up and by the middle of the week we thought we ought to do something different so that evening I purchased tickets for a speed boat trip to Corfu town on the other side of the bay and we looked forward to breaking our routine on the following day.