|Evening at Dhiaporos island in northern Greece (Halkidiki)|
|Sea Cloud in O.Tzorti on Alonissos|
It was in O. Tzorti where we first pulled up after the long fast trip down to the northern Sporades group from Nea Marmares on the Sithonian peninsula. The north-easterly we'd ridden (along with a wild and lumpy swell) could still be felt even in the island's lee though the water in O. Tzorti was more or less flat, thanks be to the sea gods. Sea Cloud had led us to O. Tzorti, and it was a delight to literally catch up again with Ian and Cathy. You wouldn't read about it, as my dad used to say.
We'd all but given up hope of sharing another bottle of bubbly with them, but you shouldn't do that, should you? Once again, we got out the cameras, like proud parents snapping identical twins. Beautiful boats, we agreed.
|The Twins - Enki (left) and Sea Cloud|
|Looking towards Panayia from Alonissos' old village (chora)|
|Window shopping in the chora|
We dropped anchor in Kira Panayia, in the south-west corner of the island, in behind an even smaller island. The anchorage is sublime, the bottom all sandy and the water all turquoise. After dark, a lone fisherman brought his boat in between us and the shore, and sat untangling his nets under a harsh light - a hard way to earn a crust. The bay turned out to be a favourite with fishermen taking shelter, one of only two "approved" overnight anchorages on Panayia - and reasonably well-protected from the prevailing northerly winds.
|Enki's track on the anchor alarm - all over the shop|
|Enki seen from a taverna in Rousoumi bay on Alonissos|
We weren't back in Alonissos on Saturday though, nor on Monday for that matter. We spent six days on Panayia.
Enki's progress through Greece this season has been halting, to say the least. This time the cause of the hold-up was a familiar one - Alex's back crumpled into a painful heap on Saturday morning, and when that happens, life as we know it stops until he can stand up straight again. He's the key man, the pivot around which everything turns on Enki.
|Alex with a straight back in Nea Marmares, wrangling with Cosmote|
|Do the monks on Athos skype?|
On this score, Panayia is a top-notch wilderness. Absolutely no signal of any kind is to be had. It is the oddest thing being "out of touch". It's not that we haven't had that experience before - but we have grown soft. It was unsettling being set aside from the connected world.
Alex rested and reached for the pills, and I - well, I waited. As the days flicked over, yachts arrived with a hiss and a roar into the anchorage and, with few exceptions, left the next morning. Enki stayed put. In the late afternoon, working fishing boats tied up to the shore, seemingly oblivious to the plastic pleasure vessels taking up the space around them. The wind blew and kept blowing day after day. We listened to the howling wind generator, and to the bleating of feral goats trit-trotting across the rocky foreshore. Big black birds circled above us, and floated over the vivid green scrub and olive trees. "Crows", said Alex, but I rather hoped they were Eleonora's falcons as described in the brochure we'd taken from the marine park info officers. Otherwise the marine park was a bit of a dead loss, to be honest.
|Mysterious men and their donkeys on Panayia|
On our second morning in the anchorage in Panayia, I heard voices, and tracked them to three men leading donkeys, laden with indistinguishable goods, and moving west along an invisible footpath. They disappeared into a gully and then over the brow of the hill. A few hours later, the men came back the other way, riding the donkeys. The next morning, and each morning after that, the same thing happened. Our only explanation was that they were from the monastery on the east coast of Panayia - there seemed to be no other habitation on the island. But what they were taking where on their donkeys, who knows. In the end, it didn't seem important. They were a feature of our landscape. A Greek landscape.
|Beast of burden - this donkey had a lot of water to move|