Sunday, 29 December 2013

sanity clause

Christmas is a low-key affair for us in Molyvos.  In the centre the local council has rigged up a tannoy system for announcements.  On a couple of days carols are broadcast - some are jazz versions.  It's a little weird.  On Christmas morning itself the local church broadcasts the morning service - a rambling drone that floats out to us at our beachside residence.  We have been invited to have dinner with Dimitris and Maria and their son Harris.  Sadly Pascale's father has died which has meant that our French cycling neighbours have returned to France for the funeral and to sort things out.  Our dinner is great - we have a lovely afternoon with Dimitris' family and walk home at sunset to call our families.
Maria's Millefeuille - beats Christmas Pudding

On Boxing Day we set off back to Mytilene town.  The ride is a fine up-and-downer along the main road, although the sun is hidden behind clouds.  We pass through a large pine forest, skirt salt pans in a bay before climbing the steep road up to the crest of a hill where we camp in another trusty olive grove.  Mytilene town is down the hill on the other side and we arrive at the post office at 8 am for our last gasp attempt at collecting the long-awaited parcel.  The night before our stove leaked so much we used half a gas bottle to cook the dinner, and I was bobbing around the roof of the tent for an hour afterwards, high on butane.  Being a 'half-empty glass' pessimist I am not too hopeful when I ask at the Poste Restante counter.  The woman rummages in her cupboard.  I look at Gayle forlornly through the plate glass window and consider the thought of cold rations until we reach Istanbul.  Worse: no thermos flask of tea each afternoon. Even worse: no morning coffee. I start to feel sick and nauseous with anxiety. The room tips to one side like a ship in a storm.
'high' camp above Mytilene

"John Beckham?" The post office clerk asks from the cupboard.

"No, John Burnham"
"Yes, John Beckham!" She emerges bearing the small cardboard box that holds more than a replacement fuel hose for our stove.  When she passes over the box I feel a wave of calm pass over me, banishing all my worries, and then a surf of joy lifts me up and out of the Post Office spitting me out onto the pavement.  The parcel is date stamped 25th December.  Hmmm, so there is a Santa Claus after all.  Thanks Mum and Dad.

We roll down to the port and get on the small ferry to Turkey.

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