Unfortunately, my new surroundings had other plans for me that night. Hooting owls and dogs barking in the distance were nothing new to me. But what I heard next was a heart-attack inducing experience. A loud, shrill, snoring noise followed by a melancholic sigh resonated around the room. Unfazed, I slowly opened my eyes… There was no doubt that the devil himself had a hand in my fate. What could it be? Whatever it was, it could wake up a corpse. I sat on the bed and held my breath. Through the whistling wind I heard the sound of broken branches as if something big and heavy was trying to tear its way through. And then there it was again! ‘HUMMMMMPPPFFFRGH!’ - the ungodly noise continued. In a instant all horrors and thrillers I’d ever read flashed before my eyes. ‘Christ Almighty!’ - I crossed myself in a panic. I prayed that whatever it was didn’t live nearby. I pulled the duvet over my head and hoped for the best. Suddenly, I remembered what ‘bed’ actually was… ‘If I should die tonight, at least my funeral arrangements are half made already!’. Fortunately, my prayers were answered because a few minutes later the noise started to fade. Gradually, I felt myself drifting off again.
In contrast to last night’s episode, I was woken up by the wonderful sound of birds singing. I looked at my watch; I had forty minutes until Panayotis’ visit. After a quick shower and a morning ciggie, I decided to investigate what happened last night. However, a sudden knock on the door sidetracked my investigation. I opened the front door and saw a little old lady dressed all in black. Out of nowhere she started bombarding me with questions in Greek gesticulating wildly. I stood there speechless cursing the childhood days when I chose to make spit balls instead of paying attention to my Greek lessons. Having noticed my perplexed expression, the woman repeated everything slowly, which sadly did nothing for me other than allowing me to pick up on two distinct words: ‘apo olo’. ‘Who’s Apollo?’ - I thought. Greeks still name their kids Achilles, Nestor, Heracles so an Apollo must have been here too at some point, and, judging by her gestures, he used to live in my flat. ‘Sorry dear, Apollo doesn’t live here anymore.’ - I replied. The woman froze and after a short stare off she pursed her lips, mumbled something to herself (var-va-ro-ti-ta...?), and left. I closed the door behind her and resumed my investigation.
* * *
I looked out of the window carefully scanning the area for evidence. Just when I thought I was onto something, my mission was aborted once more by the island’s captivating beauty. The view was truly breathtaking; early spring greenery stretched for miles punctured only by little white Greek houses scattered sparsely around and merged with the familiar turquoise glistening brightly in the distance. Colourful flowers, like jewels, surrounded the house and hiding amongst them was an abundance of herbs breathing their magical aroma into the ether. I looked ahead; love-sick birds of all kinds danced cheerfully in the air seducing their future mates with song and colour. Amongst them I spotted a family of blue tits, their colours were just like the ones I’d seen back home but richer, more vibrant. I looked down at my watch - it was 8:05… Darn it!
* * *
Panayotis turned out to be a very punctual man, which, as I later found out, is hard to come by in this part of the world. I run downstairs - he was there pacing impatiently. An eye roll, an apology and a small talk later we were on our way to Chora. I asked him about the mysterious noises I’d heard the night before; apparently a notorious gang of local goats was to blame for the broken branches but he couldn’t explain the terrifying racket.
- Are you sure you didn’t dream it? - Panayotis asked suspiciously. - How many did you have last night, love? - he added winking at me.
- I’m sure! And what do you mean ‘how many did I have?’! What kind of a person do you think I am?! - I hit back appalled.
- The kind that talks to boilers. - Panayotis grinned. I was dangerously close to giving that schnozz of his the makeover he’d probably always wanted but the fear of homelessness stopped me.
- Come, you will see Chora in the company of a dashing gentleman. - he said smugly.
- Sounds fabulous! Do you know one? - I replied innocently and watched his stupid smile melt away.