Eating out…

… at Nikos’, let me tell you, is a much more pleasurable experience that it looks from the photo. There’s a menu, of course, because tourists require a menu, but the smart move is to find out what Nikos himself is eating, and order that. Last night, it was pente psaria – five fishes. The fishes in question were the kind of catch one usually throws back – species unknown, about six inches long, silver with flashes of pink. Served complete with head, tail, fins and bones, deep-fried in light batter, I nearly ran for it, but they were fantastic.

For company, I had Alexis, a young man of about twenty-five, clean-shaven, which is unusual round here, lean and muscular. Alexis is going to be working on my boat. Lacking a common language in which we are both fluent, much of the discussion took place by means of pidgin English and German, sign language and diagrams drawn on the paper tablecloth with Nikos’ leaky biro. I think we are both satisfied with these working drawings, which Alexis carefully folded up at the end of the meal. Apparently “we” start work on it tomorrow.

Nikos, burly and grey-haired, came up to me after Alexis left, and, after softening me up with a few Metaxas, cautioned me that Alexis was considered to be a bit too “new” by the fishermen, which I assume means too “modern” in his methods. That seemed like good news to me.

The fishing boat, which I purchased last week, was inexpensive, as boats go. It’s about eighteen feet long and completely devoid of engine, sails, mast, rudder or superstructure. In short, it’s a hull with a few leaks, but optimism runs high, and the leaks don’t show because it’s high and dry right now.

I’m trying not to give the islanders the idea that I am wealthy, but compared with them I obviously am. After all, since I got here in unfashionable December, I have bought my little house and a boat, and I’ve purchased furniture, an old motor bike and eaten out frequently. My status is hovering, I think, between long-stay tourist and future resident. No-one yet suspects that my true status is fugitive. Fugitive, yes. But I don’t think I’ll talk about that right now.

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