"Alan give me a hand, two more cases to shift. Where is Rob, could do with his help," I said.
" No problem, is it number five, the bungalow? Rob is still in the minibus, sorting the payment with the driver, John" Alan said.
" I sorted the payment I am here now let's move in the hut and go to the beach. It's really hot, I am boiling," Rob said.
Our adventure had started.
" You should be thankful to me. Look at this scenery. Miles long sandy beach, turquoise colour sea, meeting with the light blue sky while dark green trees on the hill providing coolness to the hot nature. It took me ages to find this location. I took the advice from the mate in the office,' You are at least half an hour away from the nearest town, the only a handful of huts usually occupied by the locals and a camping place for tourists. They have a lot of campers from Scandinavia. The main feature of the place is a restaurant on top of the hill which you can see the beach, rocks and the whole bay. This is the place where you drink, eat and get together with other holidayers. It was a breakaway, I can't forget it. Just try it. You will be going back there every year.' I can see how right he was. Let's have some drinks and go to the beach,"
" Thanks, John, it is a lovely place. Those rocks at the end of the bay are ideal for my scuba-diving, we eat fresh fish every night I promise," Rob said.
" Let's plan our days here, staying just ten days, we have to make the best of it. Mornings should be lazying around the beach and get suntanned, after siesta around five o'clock you go for scuba-diving Rob, I shall do snorkelling, John you can paddle in the sea I know you do not like the deep sea. In the evening we just get drunk in that restaurant and enjoy the local cuisine. Is that okay with you two? Alan asked.
" Yes I can't see any problem with that," I said.
We put our towels on hot sand and laid down for sun tanning. After a while, we needed to dive into the sea. It was freezing cold. It made us shiver first but once got used to it we did not want to come out.
" This is like having a sauna and jumping on a cold swimming pool in my local gym, amazing," I said.
" I think one thing will change in your programme is I shall stay on the beach all day. Never mind siesta, I am not here to sleep," Rob said.
" Yes, I agree with you I shall join you on that," Alan said.
" Well, I shall see how it's with me, most probably will be with you," I said.
" Hi, my name is Olsen. Have you got a lighter please, mine not working," He said and added " I have not seen you before, must arrive recently,"
" Oh yes, get that, just arrived, " Rob said. " You are 'Wellcome' to join us,"
"Thank you, I don't mind. It's my exercise time, along the beach I do it every morning and jump into that freezing water is the most enjoyable pleasure for me and my girlfriend. According to the locals, there is a constant breeze coming from the mountains. It pushes the water to the open sea. That's the reason the sea is cold and does not have any waves. It looks like a lake," Olsen said.
"It is the third year, we have been coming here and do camping. The facilities are amazing, the restaurant and the food are really good on top of everything you've got very friendly people. Listen, I also got a rubber boat, anytime you want a ride just ask and can join me, nice meeting you," Olsen stood up and walked away.
" What a lovely chap, I shall take on his offer. I like to see the bay properly especially the lighthouse at the end of that rock, maybe do scuba-diving as well, let's see," Alan said, we went back to tanning.
This was our first night in the restaurant.
"Hi there, I am the Owner and also run the restaurant, my name is Vasilis. Anything you need just ask, your table is at the corner with lovely sea view, I shall get you a drink ., watch the sunset, you will never forget,"
" Hi, I am John and my friends, Alan and Rob just three pints of your local beer please,"
" Nice to meet you, folks, being the first night I shall bring you our local drink 'Ouzo', on the house, it will go nice with sunset." and he left.
Five minutes later we are having very strong ouzo, watching the views and talking rubbish laughing our heads off. Olsen and his girlfriend came to our table.
" Olga, meet with John, Alan and Rob," and they sat down with us. In no time bottle of ouzo was finished and we ordered more with our dinner.
" Hi, Nico nice to see you, coming to join us," Olsen shouted.
" You sure, I don't mind," Nico said.
" My friends, Nico is the fisherman of the holiday village, and Rob, Alan, John our new friends," Olsen said.
" Wellcome, I am the one who usually supplies fish to the restaurant. My boat is on the small bay next to Olsen's rubber boat. It is an old one, it does the job. Part of me really historical," Nico said.
" You speak quite good English Nico,!! " John said.
" Its practice with talking to tourists over years, thanks anyway," Nico answered.
"This is an amazing sunset. Look at the red rounded sun slowly sliding down the sky. The colour of the sea is turning a dark blue and is a very lonely place now. It is a picture to remember," Rob said.
All the colourful lights lit and placed looked like a funfair. Background of greek music made us drink more,
" Nico, when I saw you this afternoon, I wondered what you were doing with your old boat. You are in your mid-fifties, with your grey hair and suntanned stocky body, I kind of guessed that you are a fisherman. Listen if it's okay with you can we join you tomorrow?" I asked .
" You are always 'Wellcome', meet me at the boat at five-thirty. We will have at least two hours fishing before the sun sets, now time for the 'Zorba the Greek' dance, come on everybody join me,"
" The ouzo is a really strong drink. I am already tipsy best thing is to dance I suppose," Rob said.
We join the crowd on the dancefloor.
" I still need more sleep. My hangover is not over yet boys," I told them. I turned round and fell to sleep on the beach for extra few hours. By the time I woke up, I had a sunburn. I dashed to the sea, skipping on the hot sand like a kangaroo, throw myself into cold water. I felt better.
Around five o'clock, we turned up Nico's old boat. It really needed a few coats of good gloss paint to the cover looks. The old engine on the back of it seemed dodgy but we were not in the mood to be critical on the contrary, we're all excited.
" Just wearing our swimming trucks, having a lighter and packet of cigarettes were the items for this trip, is it Okay," Alan asked Nico.
"No problem, I have a spare t-shirt, if you needed. I have the fishing rods, mind you, only two of them, but lots of worms, two boxes. You may take turns for fishing," Nico said and pushed the boat to sea while we were trying to jump in.
" Old engine starts by pulling the string, Nico is doing it," Rob said. We heard the sound of the growling engine and saw a big black smoke behind the boat. It gained good speed after few minutes. We were getting out of the bay, closer to the rocks and the lighthouse.
" I am sorry I did not bring my diving outfit. Sea is very clear must have a very interesting sea life and I could catch few fish my self really," Rob said.
" I was thinking of the same, ideal for snorkelling here. Maybe we come back earlier or ask Olsen to come with us. His speed boat will be more exciting," Alan said.
" By the way gentleman, I informed Vasilis to prepare the table around eight o'clock, told Olsen we should be back around that time to join us. The kitchen is ready to cook fresh fish we catch," I said.
Nico stopped the engine. Throw the anchor to study the boat. we were just outside of the lighthouse. It was the beginning of the open sea.
" Pass me a cigarette Rob, let's enjoy ourselves with this quiet atmosphere,"
" John, I am really surprised at you. I know you do not like the sea, in reality, you are frightened of it. You joined this fishing venture to my surprise, beating against all the odds. I put a bet on you and lost it to Rob," Alan said. I just smiled.
" Is that true John, nothing to be frightened of the sea, man?" Nico said.
Nico had a few catches, sea bass, mackerel and sardines, the dinner was going to be delicious tonight. Slowly sun started setting down.
" Nico, I think we should start going back soon, it's getting darker," I said.
" No problem my friend, I shall put the fishing gear away, pull up the anchor and start the engine,"
he went back of the boat and had a few go at the engine. The engine did not start. It failed all the time.
" I think we are really away from the lighthouse. We must have been drifting that anchor did not stop and held us in one spot." Alan said.
" looks like we are in trouble," I said.
" Not to worry, we can row the boat, Where are the oars, Nico? we might as well use them," Rob asked.
" I am afraid I don't have oars, the engine had been okay all the time, did not need them," Nico said.
" We are sweeping away to the open sea, the anchor is not going to stop it either I think its chain is too short. I don't like it," I said.
It was really dark now. We could see the lighthouse and the restaurant lights getting smaller and invisible each minute.
I was panicking, wanted to swim to the shore as it looked really near. Rob and Alan stopped me." Don't be stupid, in this cold water you will freeze to death, and the shore is miles away," Rob said.
" I shall burn my t-shirt, It's dark enough for somebody to see us at the restaurant, and poured petrol on it and lit it," Nico did.
A few minutes we had a huge light in the air. Then it was back to darkness. We could not see each other faces only the lit cigarettes we were smoking . One thing we knew strong breeze from mountains and not being anchored properly tide was taking us away from the shore to the Aegean sea. We were shivering, cold and did not know what to do. We did not have much choice either just sit down and pray to God, we will be okay in the end. we were in her mercy.
" I caught a thirty-pound shark in this water. It was only once. I can show you the picture of it is hanging on the wall in my room. It was a big fight with big fish. When I tried to get him in the boat he tried to bite my hand. I hit his head few times with my fist and cut his head off with my knife," Nico said.
He was trying to calm us down. Rob and Alan were laughing their head off. I was worried about death. Being pitch black we could not see each other. The situation made me more panic as I hate darkness . We did not have any time concept as nobody had a watch. They could feel I was panicking but concealed their feeling very well. Not being able to see anything I could not make anything out of their mind whether pretending to be calm and collective or traumatised like me. I shall never know.
We all heard a boat roaming in the darkness . " Help, Help !! anybody there," we all shouted. I lit my lighter in case its light might be more visible. Our old boat started moving with the effect of the waves of the other boat.
" Anybody there let me know," Olsen shouted. We all had a big relief, start clapping our hands " Yes, Yes we are here," we shouted all together.
We saw Olsen and his rubber speed boat, shadows in the darkness, he was trying to park his boat next to ours.
" I can only take two people in my boat. The Coast guard is on its way. If any problem I shall be back for the other two. Don't panic just wait for us," Olsen said.
Rob and I were the first two the jump off the old boat and got into the other one. Olsen sped the boat towards the shore. It was a big relief when the lights were becoming bigger and brighter again. I had lost the time concept. At the beach, people were screaming,shouting waving their hands. It was the moment when I put my feet on the ground I felt safe . Rob and I were hugging and kissing the strangers.
A few minutes later, the Coastguards big boat brought Alan and Nico, back to the shore.
We have wrapped in blankets and had large glasses of Cognac to get warm and calm the nerves.
"What took so long to find us?" I asked Vasilis.
"You lot put me in a situation I don't want my enemy to be in. Good job you told me you are going with Nico. Your table was ready at eight o'clock as you asked for. You were not back. Olsen informed me that he saw a big flashing light for few minutes. He sailed to see whether he could find you, he knew the place as he also fishes and dives there as well. I drove to the town to alarm the coast guard. They spotted you with their radar and picked you up." Vasilis said.
It was half-past eleven in the evening. In the end, big tragedy was avoided. We were all lucky but I lived with this trauma for a long time. Today, I can't travel by sea and boats will not be used for any adventure anymore.
The following day, I met Olsen. Thanked him from bottom of my heart. We exchanged the details as he was leaving but never manage to get together again. Nico left the camp the same day.
We spent another seven days trying to recover and make the better of our holiday and laugh at the stories Nico told us and his Old Boat.
Today, I still wonder who was the Angel to me and my friends that saved our lives, I shall never know.