Since our move to Holland and the purchase of our house A and I needed a sunny holiday.
Having been to the Greek islands of Lefkas and Samos before, this time we decided to go to the larger island of Lesbos.
The island gives credit to its name, because just as we arrived there, there had just been a major “women’s festival” the week before and some where still lingering around.
Let’s say they were not of the Basic Instinct type. Think builder’s cracks and over aged angry plumbers. Not that I’ve got anything against lesbians, but for several times I’ve tried to reach the other end of our beach, and each time I bumped into the nudist section. And each time I just got lost in the wild bush.
Talking of Paul Verhoeven, Lesbos reminded me of Mars in Total Recall, with the rough, dry, red and rugged soil and mountains, being a 20 million year old volcano and all. With the KKE (The Greek Communist Party) graffiti scattered all over the island it could easily be the hideout for the Martian Resistance Front. Some people looked indeed like there were some damaged chromosomes in their family pool. It is an island after all. Or it could have just been the over-abundance of sun, feta and olive oil, and the Mediterranean paste of life.
Perfect conditions for a good read though. I finished Michel Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory, and went a long way into Chaim Potok’s The Gift of Asher Lev. On the side I read Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond. Excellent reads, each in their very own way. Thoughts tickled, itchy stress spots healed, skin cleansed and time passes by just like that.
During our stay it was Yom Kippur. Recently I’ve actually been trying to fast on that day. I thought that a day’s fast under these hot and exotic circumstances was not a great idea, so unlike my attempts of the previous years, which were difficult enough, I thought I’d give it a pass this time.
Some days later, on our final day A and I decided to have another relaxing day on the beach. After our last delicious breakfast we were among the very few on our beach. I was already pretty lobster-like so decided to avoid the sun a bit, and sat in the shadow of our tree. Slowly something didn’t feel right, so I requested an early hotel return. We had to leave very early the next day, so I had to feel fit to fly. But I didn’t.
It came quickly: Sweat. Fever. Barf. Diarrhoea. Cooling down. Sweat again. More barf. More diarrhoea. Again. And again. And again.
A managed to get a doctor to our hotel. This doctor had just stopped working at the 24 hour service centre and wasn’t supposed to help, because she was back on a training programme or something, so couldn’t give me an ‘official’ treatment but was very friendly nevertheless in helping out anyway and gave me a large water infusion into my vein and an anti-sickness shot in my right butt cheek, which indeed helped a bit. The idea was to get me better for the next early morning. At least we got the chance to talk a bit with an educated local. She was a 27 year old who wanted to follow her friends to Berlin to work, as they have better chances there than in Greece.
After our Greek tragedy update I tried to sleep, but the next morning the sickness hadn’t left me.
So we had to cancel our flight. We found out it was the last flight of the season.
A more serious doctor was required. A health clinic about 22 km away was ready to take me in that day for a more thorough treatment. Once I was ready to stand up, around 3 in the afternoon, A drove us to the village up the mountains. This time I had to receive a full litre of water with salt & sugar intravenously, another jab in the butt, and a blood sample for tests. Another young female doctor helped out, but she had been awake for a day and a half, and must have put in the needle in my hand in the wrong way, because hours and hours passed without the bottle making much progress. A grumpy mute male nurse ultimately came to the rescue; after a bit of painfully fiddling with the needle in my hand it started to speed up considerably, with a swollen hand as a result. More than 6 hours later I finally got discharged and we went back to the hotel.
The next day we managed to get our return trip and all other extra costs sorted through the recently acquired travel insurance which was good news, but we still had to get back.
Two days after our first attempt we tried to leave again. We managed to get to the airport at the other side of the island in a 2-hour drive. Then there was the first flight, a domestic one to Athens. One of those smaller planes with propellers at the side. In less than an hour we got there with no problems. I was actually starting to feel delirious. The endorphins must have started to kick in.
The first bit of the 4-hour wait at the airport was all right, but once we were at the gate, I was starting to feel anxious, panicky even. It didn’t help much that next to us in the Jumbo 737 sat a fat sweaty beer drinking grumpy and very unfriendly Dutchman. Once seated I felt close to running back out of the plane, onto the tarmac for a sleep, or a poo, or both.
Luckily I managed to control myself and after the first half of the 3,5 hour trip spending in a meditative-like state I felt like the worst part was over, and we were nearly home.
So I spent Yom Kippur fasting after all, albeit with a slight delay.