I’ve been back in Vancouver one week, and just as I thought, I’m missing my team in Naxos. Not just a normal “oh that was so fun, I miss those guys” kind of missing . . . but a really deep “wow, that was a life changing summer” kind of missing.
I arrived in Naxos in the middle of June, and most of the team was already there. Ben, Florrie and Ben Ooz already lived in our little house on the prairie (complete with goats, geese and a cow at times). Emma, Morten and Benj arrived within two weeks, with Kosits and Sophia (the locals) rounding out the team.
Coming from Oman where I lived in villas with massive bedrooms, A/C and my own bathroom to Naxos where I had to share a teeny tiny room with an even teenier bathroom, I was initially worried. I can be a terrible roommate . . . and I apologized to best-ever roomie Emma on Day 1 for any future infractions that I would undoubtedly make. After a couple of weeks, my super organized drawer in our cupboard (yes, ONE drawer!) was in stark contrast to her ‘live out of my clean laundry basket until everything in it becomes dirty, wash and repeat’ strategy. But we got along like peas and carrots, talking about everything under the sun from first thing in the morning until late at night . . . it was like a 6 week slumber party with my best friend.
Morten quickly became my ‘coffee husband’. Whoever woke up first put the water on the stove to boil. We mumbled our good mornings and shared coffee and breakfast daily along with Ben Ooz and Emma, since we all lived on the kitchen side of the house. Once Morten left, Ben Ooz took over as a substitute coffee husband so none of us had to walk to work uncaffeinated.
Ben, Florrie and Benj had their rooms on the other side of the house . . . closer, at times, to the geese. We all agreed that they were cute, but would look far better roasting headless in our oven for all the noise they made squaking around looking for each other every morning!
The morning walk to work was always an event. Depending on how tired (or hungover) we were, it was either a jaunty stroll with lots of conversation, or a zombie-esque stumble where we all muttered about the continued dangers of beer, ouzo and tequila. Once at work, we became an octopus, each an arm of one multi-tasking individual. In three days in July, we conducted Discover Scuba Diving programs for nearly 200 people. That is a lot of gear to set up and break down. Our record for a complete wash up was 15 minutes. One day we put away over 20 sets of gear, and another 25 or so wetsuits in less than 5 minutes. Everything was powered by the frappes Kostis made in those precious few minutes of down time before the next onslaught of French and American teenaged DSDs.
It got to the point where we barely needed to communicate. We were working as one, teamwork at its finest. Underwater was no different. No matter what our diving teams were, whether on the house reef or the trips to the wreck or the south, we got each other, we knew our roles, and so it was for July. At home it was the same. We cooked together, and for each other. Florrie was an expert at chili, Ben Ooz made carbonara, Ben stuffed peppers and zucchini with the leftover chili, Emma made bolognase, I made creamy tomato and sausage pasta, Morten bought the ingredients for curry – I cooked. Family dinners were a highlight after a long day, the perfect chance to unwind and debrief with good friends and a few beers.
August arrived. Florrie became a DM and did her snorkel test. Morten did one last dive and left the same day, returning to work in Denmark. The octopus lost a very important arm. A few days later the Italians arrived: Alessandra the instructor and Enrico the new slave (ie Dive Master in Training). We traded Greeks: Kostis for Nikolas, and slowly we settled into a new routine. Emma was leaving soon, and we all made some tips, so we ate and drank ourselves around the town, enjoying the high life, and had a few more zombie walks to work. With two weeks to go in the summer season, Emma was gone. Almost the craziest of us all, she was made to work for a month straight without a single day off. I don’t think anyone else could have done it; I know I couldn’t have. The octopus lost another arm.
The end of August was quieter. The wind was up and numbers were down. There were a few hectic days, but nothing compared to mid-July. We finally got a chance to breathe out, and spend final moments together. We went for dinner, we went for drinks, we found a bar where they would let us sing, we drank tequila.
And then suddenly, it was over. One last trip to the south, and we were done. High fives all round, dive gear packed up and carried home. One last night out, and Ben, Florrie and Ben Ooz left the next day. Benj followed the day after, Enrico and I two days after that. Alessandra stayed to work into the fall. Alone except for the geese, and a new instructor who arrived just as Enrico and I zipped up our bags.
A pretty perfect summer, done. So many memories, so many dives, so many laughs, a couple of tears and lots of goodbye hugs. It’s been a long long time since I worked with a team as great as what we had in Naxos. I needed a team, I needed to be a part of something bigger than myself, something good, not just a bunch of people working for the same boss. I got what I needed, and so, so much more.
If we all make a bit of money, our dream can come true . . . Florrie can run the bar, Ben can drive the boats, Benj can do the briefings in French, Alessandra in Italian and Spanish, Nikolas and Sophia in Greek and German, Emma will keep everyone’s spirits up, Enrico can finish his DM, Kostis can make frappes, Morten will do every dive every day, Ben Ooz can bring in the customers, and I will make sure everything is organized – see you in the Solomon Islands ;)