A Goose Walks Into a Minimarket

It didn’t actually. I just wanted to be able to weave this photo into one of the posts! Sorry.

Yesterday CaptainMargaritis drove me to the port. It was a windy day but the sun is back after the grey, overcast day we had the day before. The Psara Glory was a little late leaving Chios but eventually she arrives without a showy-twirl and not even a toot on her horn. Not like the smaller Oinoussai iii who always gives a couple of good blasts when she approaches the port. Maybe it’s a size thing.

There is quite a crowd at the port. Nobody except me waiting to board but everyone else is eagerly awaiting whatever is on board this ship. Firstly a lorry pulling a large container exits – you’ve got to admire the skill involved in reversing one of these onto a ship. Psara Glory is big compared to the Oinoussai iii but is a shrimp compared to the Blue Stars that we know and love.

A couple of cars exit the ferry along with a troop of soldiers. They are met by a commander in a military vehicle. I guess that they’re off to do a stint on the islet of Pasas. All I’d seen of Pasas was the lookout station on top of the hill from a fishing caique. I’d love to know what living facilities they have for their stay here. Half of them squeeze into the military vehicle whilst the others wait on the quayside. Now this is just a guess but there had been a boat moored up next to the fishing caique’s since I got here. It was flat and wide – unlike the fishing boats and it had caught my attention because of its shape. Before the Psara Glory arrived, this boat was taken out and headed off East in the direction of the group of islets – one of which is Pasas. I wonder if this boat will take them across – maybe from Aspalathrokampos where there is a little dock.

Anyway – these are the things that go through my mind. As I try to tell my grandchildren – always be curious!

The captain finally gives the signal for the crowd to board and go and get their stuff. Honestly it’s like a scene from Supermarket Sweep. I don’t know whether it’s because they don’t want to bear the wrath from this very ‘shouty’ captain or they are just keen to collect their goods. I seize my chance to board as the frenzy calms. Suitcase dumped on deck next to a pile of military duffle bags – there must be more soldiers on board, and up to the deck I go.

Goods are still being unloaded. Some beautiful marble worktops that I daresay will be installed in one of the gorgeous old mansion houses being renovated. A brand new washing machine is carried off between two men and hoiked into the back of an open backed truck. Mostly boxes of foodstuffs are collected. I wonder what’s in the container that’s just been offloaded. It must feel like Christmas when long awaited goods arrive.

There aren’t many people on board the ship. Just one Greek couple and about a dozen soldiers (some of which look about 14). There are a couple of Greek men who sit inside.

It’s about a four hour journey to Psara and the sea is pretty choppy. Captain Margaritis had told me that it will be a bit windy when it turns the corner at the top of Chios as it is open sea. Captain Margaritis sails large cargo ships all over the world – he knows the sea. He was telling me on the way to the port that where his house is he can’t see the sea. He doesn’t want to see it because he’s had enough of it – all his life has been the sea.

The Psara Glory departs as quietly as she arrived. Tell me that the view over the islets isn’t one of the most beautiful sight that you’ve seen! She heads back past the Mermaid of Oinoussa, around the back of the small islets and into the channel between Oinousses and Chios. If you’re a bit of a ship nerd like me, you’ll be familiar with apps such as Marine Traffic. Some interesting ships sail up and down this channel, many heading to far flung destinations. One ship that I spotted frequently sailing up and down the channel was a NATO war ship flying a Danish flag. An indication that beyond the façade of what we see as tourists, there are political tensions that some people may not necessarily be aware of.

This is a rocky channel and as we come to the end of it where the triangular shaped islet Strovili sits at the tip of Chios and Oinousses, the ship takes a wide berth around it. One last view of the monastery before Oinousses fades from sight.

We begin to sail along the top of Chios where the mountains loom high above us. This mountainous side of the island is densely covered with pine trees which carry their scent on the wind. Every now and again you can see a little whitewashed hamlet gleaming out against the dark green. Clouds lick the top of the mountains and ooze down slowly between the ravines like molten lava spilling out of volcano.

Captain Margaritis was right. As soon as we get out of the shelter between the land mass of Turkey and Lesvos, the wind picks up even more and sweeps right across the deck. The Greek couple, the soldiers and I all move to a sheltered corner of the deck, the soldiers sling their rifles under the deck seats as though it is just another piece of luggage. As someone who’s never even held a gun before, I find it an interesting observation. These guys are young – one of them looks really young! Here they are laughing, smoking, watching Youtube videos on their phones just like any lads of their age. I notice that when they get up to go buy some water or whatever, they always take their rifle with them – probably a requirement that you keep in charge of your weapon at all times.

The four hours went quite quickly though at the end of the journey my hair, skin and clothes are sticky from the salty, moist sea air. The sun begins to set behind Psara which is now in sight.

I send my host Diana an email telling her that I’m on the Psara Glory and will be there soon. I get a rather cryptic message back – obviously due to the shortcomings of Google Translate. It brings a smile to my face. A quick survey of my friends we conclude that she will be in a yellow car of some description.

The Greek couple, the soldiers, a couple of old men and me all disembark the ship. About a dozen people are waiting to collect their goods from the ship including my host Diana who has come to collect me. She heads straight towards me with hand outstretched – I guess there was no mistaking me for anyone else! She also collects a large package which she takes from the deck.

A quick glance at the port and first impression is that it’s quite a lively place.

I don’t really have time to absorb my surroundings. Diana whizzes me to the apartment pointing out taverna’s, the bakery and the supermarket. There are certainly a fair few facilities here. More I suspect than on Oinousses and it has half the population.

Anyway, I make it to Diana’s Studios and I’ve made it to Psara. I need to wash the crusty salt from my hair and body.

BTW we all lose – she’s in a blue Citroen!

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