Nisyros to Kos: a very different world

All change on Friday.  Time to leave Nisyros.

It’s amazing that I’ve been here for a month.  Can’t really think of a hotel room as ‘home’ but I left it with some nostalgia.  Indeed I left the island with some nostalgia.  I’ll even miss the students on the roof of the house outside my balcony yelling at each other at 06.00 in the morning.  Yes, they were there again today for the third day running.

I had half thought to go for a walk in the morning before catching the ferry at 15.30 but it didn’t prove to be practical.  My room was in demand and it was very politely indicated that it would be inconvenient if I lingered longer than necessary.  No complaints from me, I had ‘room-blocked’ it effectively through one of their busiest periods when they could well have got a lot more for it.

Having finished packing my bags I went and said goodbye to some good friends.  Then sorted the photos and the blog for Thursday ready to upload and went down to the internet cafe on the seafront to access the internet.  Only to find that their WiFi connection was down.  I did a few essentials using an Ethernet connection while leaning on the bar and sipping an espresso but it wasn’t conducive to doing much.

It’s amazing how time drags when you’re not doing very much and then suddenly it’s gone.  I had a Greek salad at the seafront taverna where I’ve been going, said goodbye to some more people, collected my luggage from the hotel and ambled down to the harbour.  By then it was 15.30, time for the ferry, and I seemed to have done nothing.

It was strange leaving, knowing I would not be going back in a few days.  Twice in the last month I’ve been to Kos and once to Tilos but each time knowing I would be back shortly.

Familiarity and a sense of ‘belonging’ or even just ‘association’ are strange indefinable things.  I don’t feel I ‘belong’ on the island but I do have an affinity with the attitude of the place.  Certainly I feel at home wandering around it’s mountains, among its antiquities and ancient rocks.  I suppose that’s the connection, feeling at home among antiquities.  Nisyros is less dependent on tourists than many other islands because it has significant income from the pumice quarry and I think because of that it is more genuinely Greek. It is a locals place, less polluted by an ex-pat population, and the locals are generally very welcoming and seem genuine in their friendship.

It’s only an hour on the trip ferries from Nisyros to Kardamena, the nearest harbour on Kos but it’s a completely different world.  Geared entirely to tourists and principally ‘youth’ it is a pleasant enough place to while away half an hour waiting for the bus sitting in a taverna with WiFi, desperately trying to catch up on e-mails and on-line banking, and sipping yet another espresso.

Bus to Kos Town and that was a real shock to the system.  One of the guys I know on Nisyros, who speaks less English than  speak Greek, said that Nisyros is good, it has ‘ησυχία’ (peace and quiet) , Kos does not have ησυχεία.  Boy, was he right!  I arrived in the town at 18.00, declined the offer of a hotel from a guy on a scooter meeting prospective punters off the bus and set out to find the hotel which a British couple had recommended.  The town was just coming to life for the evening.

I was trundling my big luggage on wheels, it was hot, I was sweaty, the pavements narrowed every 20 feet or so to accommodate the large trees offering shade, I had a rough idea where I was heading but soon got disoriented.  Then triumph, I found it and it looked very pleasant indeed, on a tree-lined avenue close to the seafront.  But it was full.  The only room they could offer was a windowless, airless room in the basement.  I couldn’t face it so I politely declined the offer and continued my trundling, regretting that I had so peremptorily dismissed the offer from the guy at the bus station.  I must learn to be more inclined to consider all options and not dismiss them out of hand.  The thing is, I usually know where I’m going and have sorted things out beforehand, part of my psyche as well as years of being a planner.

Eventually I came across a small hotel in a side street close to the harbour.  While not the best hotel I’ve stayed in it would do for the night.  I was relieved to say the least.  I dumped my stuff, had a shower and then went to check out the action.

Well, actually, I went to check at the travel office which part of the large harbour my ferry would leave from tomorrow.  I’m trying to use Greek as much as I can and I think I’m becoming a little more understandable in that it now takes 2 or 3 sentences before the person I’m speaking to twigs that I haven’t a clue what they are saying and revert to generally pretty good English.  I asked the guy in the travel agent in my best Greek and understood his reply, more from his gestures than his words, but there then followed a torrent which I couldn’t make head nor tale of.  He repeated it and I got the impression that he was telling me that the ferry left at 16.00.  I protested, also in my best Greek, that my ticket said it left at 12.30.  Another torrent of Greek which I couldn’t follow by which time he saw that my face was showing total lack of comprehension so he got a piece of paper and wrote on it ‘12.30’, crossed it out with a flourish and said and wrote ‘Οχι!’ – No! And wrote underneath it ‘16.00’.

Exhausted by all this, and somewhat dismayed that my stay on Kos was to be extended, I went and found a comfortable seat in a harbour side taverna, had an over-priced ouzo and watched in a daze as the world went by garishly dressed and in large numbers.  Very different from Nisyros, a different world and one that I will never belong in.

The hotel has 3 WiFi routers with 3 sets of signals one of which was very strong in my room.  But there was no access to the internet.  I got over the initial excitement of thinking that I could at last speak to David and family and to Ruth and Tim by Skype and went to the Cyber Cafe opposite the hotel where I did a few more things and had an espresso.  Skyping was ruled out by the volume of the music.

After a meal in the old part of town, I went back to the Cyber cafe and checked e-mails, had yet another espresso, then, with my head ringing from the cranked-up music,  crossed the road back to the hotel and fell into bed exhausted.

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