Writings of Andrew Schiestel

The sun setting on the Islands of Cephalonia and Ithaca, Greece.

And there was the Port of Aetos.

The ferry docked by way of a cleat hitch around a horn cleat, helped by a worker of the port.

Tom disembarked the ferry and set his feet on the Island of Ithaca; he had returned.

Port Aetos was deserted if it weren’t for the travellers, the vehicles waiting for the travellers, the ferry itself, a pop-stand operated by an old woman and a few construction workers laying cement in a twenty by thirty rectangular box that lay on the dock pressed up against the sea.

Tom accessed a map software on his phone to check the distance he was to walk. He was staying in Vathy tonight and chose not to risk imposition by asking his host for a ride from the port.

Seven kilometers, the software read.

Tom snapped shut the upper belt of his travel knapsack around his neck, inverted the smaller knapsack around his chest—four straps covered his shoulders in total—and began the trek up the hill towards Vathy, leaving the port.

Halfway up the tall and winding road, he turned back to the port and took a few photos of the ferry departing. The vessel was on its voyage back to Patras to complete another summer’s day of work when a Datsun sedan, red, pulled up, its windows down, being driven by a middle-aged woman, tanned, brown slightly curly long hair leaning partly out of the driver door’s window.

“Want a ride?”

“I’m going to Vathy,” Tom said. “That alright?”

“I’m going to the north. ‘Can drop you off halfway.” Her English was clear.

Tom unbuckled the two straps of his travel sack, opened one of the Datsun’s back doors, tossed both knapsacks onto the backseat and hopped into the vehicle.

“Where you from?” Tom asked.

“Australia.”

“Why are you here?”

“My family is from the northern island.”

“There’s another island in the north?”

“No, same island. But the northern part.”

“Ahh. Greek background?”

“Aye. In the fifties there was an earthquake on the island; a devastating one. Many people lost their homes. The countries of South Africa and Australia were welcoming to those effected. Thousands migrated and many of the families return here in the summer months. Ithaca will always be home.”

The car was up over the hill, winding, bend after bend.

The two made small talk and it wasn’t long until the vehicle entered a cove, a mountain in the distance, an isle in the centre-right and a fork in the road. “Here is your stop. You go right, I go left.” “Ahh, thank you for your generosity.” Tom hopped out of the car, opened the backdoor and grabbed his two knapsacks from the seat. As the door slowly began to shut, the Australian-Greek staying seated, turned to Tom and quickly stretched her right arm out, palm-up holding two small dark-red objects. “You dropped these,” she said. “Oh, the elephant and the turtle!” Tom exclaimed sighing relief. “A man with a kind soul from Senegal came up to me in Athens. His cousin makes them; the material is from the ocean. He said that they bring very good luck to those who hold them.” She gave them back to Tom with indifference, smiled, Tom shut the door and she drove away.

Good luck was on her way and she didn’t even know it.

The red Datsun drove west and then north around the cove, then up the west side of Mount Nirito and disappeared into the north.

Tom walked to Vathy.

 

The hero image is of the sun setting on the Ionian Sea on July 16, 2019. To the left, the Island of Cephalonia; to the right and bottom-centre, the Island of Ithaca.

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