24 hours on Amorgos

The last four weeks have been some of the busiest and most rewarding since March; my last real divemaster gig on the Central Coast of BC.  Zakynthos ended up to be a major bust – I not-so-affectionately refer to my 9 weeks there as ‘My $2000 Tan’ – and so after much soul-searching and lighting of candles in the local churches, I ended up on Amorgos, a small island in the Small Cyclades, in the Agean Sea, nearly as far away as one can get from Zakynthos while still remaining in Greece.

I love it here.  I loved it here from the second the ferry pulled up at 1:30am and I saw the few twinkling lights of homes and restaurants from the hillsides far above.  I met my boss as he showed me my new home (technically his winter home) and as he ushered me in the bright blue door of the white-washed stone building, I knew I had done something right.

The next morning I took in the beautiful view of the Agean from the patio: before my eyes met the sea, they crossed the blue domes of the local church, and the scenic and perfectly ‘Greek’ unevenly square white buildings of the village I would quickly come to call home: Lagkada.  Apparently there are about 200 families that live here.  I’ve taken a couple of very short (and inadequate, to be honest) wanderings around the village, and there are endless blue doors in white walls, along alleys where no cars have ever driven, and donkeys carrying people and things (think anything from cement bags to veggies) are a regular sight.  The streets are painted with whitewash on every step (it is a hillside/hilltop village), and often extra designs (a flower, a heart, some squiggles) adorn any number of steps.  This is not for the benefit of the tourists, I have a feeling life hasn’t changed much here in a very long time.

Mid-morning I headed down to the dive shop, and then to the dive centre, in the port town of Aegiali.  The hub of the north-east part of the island, Aegiali is set out around the main dock, with a beach and a couple of rows of traditional tavernas and a few more trendy bars all facing the setting sun.  Within a couple of hours of arriving at the dive centre, and being shown around by my co-worker Nicki, we were kitting up, in the car, and on our way to dive our most popular sight, so Nicki could show me around while we (blessedly) didn’t have any customers that afternoon.

The water was cool and clear, the site was beautiful, and it was an absolute relief to be diving right away.  The dive centre is neat, organized and clean.  All of the gear is in great condition, serviced regularly and in enough sizes to comfortably accommodate almost more divers than we can handle.

At the end of the day, Nicki took me shopping for some food supplies, and I settled down in my new little house to unpack and cook my own dinner for the first time in over two months.  Then I remembered I had neglected to buy garlic, as this is a staple foodstuff for the staple meal of backpackers and divemasters around the world – pasta – I dashed down to Ioanna’s (I’m sure the store has a name, but I don’t think anyone has used it in several decades) in the central square of Lagkada.  Ioanna is Dimitris’ (my boss’s) aunt, and at this particular moment she was out.  No matter, Adonis, who I had waved at earlier on my tour of the square (one of, I believe, 7 Adonis’s that I now know) beckoned me over to his restaurant (Erothas), and bade me sit and chat for a bit until she returned.

Sitting with Adonis was Dimitris, or Dimitraki (little Dimitris), Nicki’s boyfriend that I hadn’t yet met but he put two and two together and figured out who I was first (apparently there aren’t many Western girls wandering around Lagkada looking for garlic).  We sat, and chatted, and drank ouzo.  Then Dimitris left to go to work, and Adonis and I kept chatting.  At some point Ioanna returned and I managed to buy some garlic.  A while later, after meeting some local musicians, and with some delicious hard cheese in hand (a gift from Adonis to liven up my pasta dinner) I headed home to cook dinner and then promptly passed out from the exhaustion of the previous days 19 hour journey to get to Amorgos: every second was worth the trip.

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