Conducted Lionel and Desmëi…

… to the rather boring excavations yesterday. They have a hire car.

Not the SERIOUSLY boring excavations on the other side of the island that I visited the day I had to walk back pushing the bike, but a rather more substantial site where they have dug up quite a lot of foundation blocks, and they are getting round to deciding what it is they’ve found. I suspect, as is usual in Greece, that when the original building fell into disuse, every piece of building material that could be loaded on a donkey or dragged on a cart was incorporated into new buildings, and what’s left is that which was too heavy to carry, too big to lift.

The site, though, is one of those places, and there are many in Greece, where the very air thrums with magic. There is a natural spring at one end of the site, a pipe, surrounded by ancient algae-covered blocks, trickling a thin stream of water which falls into a rough stone basin. It has been co-opted as a sort of roadside shrine of the Christian persuasion, and there is a wooden box with a window, containing a saintly figure and various paraphernalia. However, the spring has probably been here for millennia trickling patiently into its bowl and thence to a sort of gully filled with lush greenery that plunges towards the sea, cool and mysterious. There’s even a rough path down the gully to a narrow stony beach, but all sign of the spring water disappears before it gets there.

We picnicked in the shade of the trees and talked. Desmëi is the ideal wife for Lionel. A plump, bookish woman with a warm manner in a pleasant face. She listens and admires him, but is always ready with a clever remark when he launches on some highly embellished anecdote.

I took them to Nikos’ last night. It was a huge success. Nikos was enthusiastic to show my old friends a good time and he excelled himself with a vast meze, crowned with excellent baby lamb (actually goat, I understand, but just as nice). I had told Nikos that Lionel taught at a University in Canada. He lectures in Social Anthropology, which he privately insists on calling “Wog-watching”. To you and me, that’s just a bit of self-deprecation. Sooner or later, though, he’s going to say it to the wrong person. All my new island friends made a point of buying drinks and visiting our table to meet “the Professor” and his wife. Heaven knows when I got to bed. A return match is due tonight!

I cannot express the relief of telling Lionel everything – the relief that I’d partially felt in writing this journal. I feel so much lighter, somehow, though Nikos is attempting to reverse this sensation with his copious food.

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