I’ve worked real hard this year and for a while I felt totally exhausted.
Luckily, it’s time for the summer break. I’m going to Greece like the normal people do. I’ve had enough of Africa and the lost luggage. I need a proper rest, say, full ten days in the sun. Last year I took three and two half days off. Two half-days? The first half was the afternoon when I travelled to Greece. The second half was the morning spent in Lidl, Masoutis, Cosmos and other important establishments, buying feta cheese, olive oil and children’s Geox shoes, after which I went back home. There. Between those two half-days I spent entire three days on the beach. Why? Well, that is another long and complicated story.
But that was then and this is now.
I deserve my ten days on the sand like all the other overworked fellow citizens. Back in the good old days, when I was better off money-wise and before I had a child, I went on summer vacation twice – once in June and again in September. It was cheaper that way, but also more pleasant and less crowded.
Life is different now. I won’t complain but rather try to make the best out of this vacation.
They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I don’t know who said that but it’s true, at least for me.
The plan was simple and realistic enough: on my arrival, I’ll meet my child and my ex. Then he’ll leave and I’ll stay. My daughter and I will have a splendid time. I’ll lie in the shade, sipping cold coffee and reading (books, magazines, anything). She will play in the sand, collecting seashells and such. I won’t cook. We’ll eat gyros, squids, ice-cream. Ten days later, her father will pick us up and we’ll head back. The end of a successful summer vacation.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
The first night, 2 AM. I was awoken by the sound of window shutters banging in the wind. I went to the balcony to see what was up. It was raining heavily while the storm was wreaking havoc on the sleepy village. A promising start… It was the storm that battered Halkidiki and made headlines a couple of weeks ago. It looked apocalyptic, but thankfully, it didn’t cause a lot of damage in the place where we stayed.
Other than the dirt in the sea and the beach covered with all kinds of garbage and smelly sea weeds, everything looked normal.
We walked along the coast and breathed in the iodine, hoping the beach would be cleaned soon.
The second night, somewhere around midnight. Again the rain and the wind. But the storm wasn’t as violent as the night before. This vacation could still be great fun.
Or not. The next day, the beach was even dirtier and looked even more uninviting.
It was chilly, but it was still better than boiling at the usual 40 degrees in the shade. So what if it’s only 25°C? One can sleep better when it’s not so warm.
We walked by the shore. I held my daughter’s hand firmly. She didn’t understand why she wasn’t allowed to jump on the piles of seaweed which looked from afar like horse manure (it doesn’t sound very poetic, but I’m sure you’ll understand).
Surely the weather would be better. Or not.
The following day it rained again. The temperature was around 20 degrees. OK, fine, I was on vacation, at the seaside, and the beach was… still disgustingly dirty. Did I say it was rainy? We went for a walk. We put on our jeans, sneakers, jackets. In July. Never mind. There were the famous Greek pastry shops offering the yummy lukumades. My daughter got hooked. But it was fine, I had to stay positive. I even bought her a Fanta. It was only once! How bad could it be for her?
A couple of days later, we finally got to the beach. It was relatively warm. The morning was a bit cold, but it was much hotter in the afternoon, so the ever-hopeful tourists flocked to the beach, looking inquisitively at the coffee-shop owners who still hadn’t removed the waste around their establishments. The locals only pushed it aside to make narrow passages to the water. If you closed your eyes and jumped over all the stinky hurdles, you still had to walk about fifteen minutes through the murky water before you could get to the right depth to start swimming.
My daughter tried to play in the sand and looked for the seashells between the cigarette butts.
At last, I was on my beach bed, sipping my cold coffee and trying to read a novel in English. It was good that the book was in a foreign language. I was surrounded by my compatriots who were prone to becoming too close to soon. However, they didn’t speak to me because they probably didn’t realize I was their compatriote. I tried to disconnect. This was no easy task as 24 cm from me a plump brown-haired lady, squeezed into a too tight bikini, shouted at the top of her voice in her mobile phone. It was hard to focus on anything else.
Her monologue was inspirational though as it started
with this line: „Where’s that cheeky bitch? Has she shown up yet?…“
It’s a quote. I immediately wrote this line in the notes on my mobile although it was memorable enough.
A girl approached her – her daughter or a friend, it was hard to say. They started talking about the earrings. The person no. 2 had just realized, there on the beach, at that exact moment, that girls’ ears looked much better (or more seductive) with earrings. Even with very small ones. In fact, those tiny earrings are really cool, and each woman should wear a pair. They went on and on about this until I fell asleep. When I woke up, the person no. 2 was gone.
I grabbed my book again. My daughter was immersed in digging a tunnel underneath the beach bed. She would then make a house for the plastic dogs she had brought with her „just in case “. Should I mention that one of them would stay on the beach forever after this vacation?
My neighbour remembered her mobile phone again.
Luckily for my sensitive ears, the bitch was no longer mentioned. This time she
talked about her new Tom Ford sunglasses. Oh, yeah. Lo and behold, she had
found the right ones after a long and desperate search. Sunglasses, that’s what
makes a woman complete. One should never settle for an average pair. And it was
such a bargain! She’d got a 50% discount and got them for mere 150 euros! She
was wearing them right then.
I looked in her direction, but she turned her back to me. I couldn’t see the praised accessory.
To my right, another stimulating conversation was
taking place. It was between two mothers, who were also entrepreneurs. As their
offspring were trying to grab the pails and shovels from each other and catch
the jellyfish in shallow water, the mother in the black bikini complained to
the mother in the white one: „My hubby and I run a company in Skopje, you know.
We came for only a few days. We can’t just leave everything to the staff…“ The
entrepreneur in the white bikini nodded: „I know exactly what you mean. My
husband and I have restaurants. You know how they say: When the cat’s away, the
mice will play“.
I lied back down and hid my face with the book, hoping they wouldn’t try to include me in the conversation.
Suddenly, something big and yellow hit me in the head. A father and his teenaged boy (my compatriots, of course) decided to play volleyball right in front of me. While I was rubbing my head in confusion, the son apologised in a surprisingly good English (compliments to his teacher). It was probably because of the book. I rolled my eyes and refused to respond. I was afraid all I wanted to say would come out of my mouth and they certainly wouldn’t like to hear that. In any language.
The sun was setting. I took out my camera and tried to catch the most beautiful moment of the day. My neighbours had finally gone quiet. They probably also felt that the beauty of the mother nature was best contemplated in silence.
We’ve returned home. The Greek beaches have kept their tourists, entrepreneurs, seaweed, Tom Ford glasses and volleyball balls. This vacation was longer than last year’s and therefore more successful. I’ve also learnt something: e.g. that the women’s ears look better with tiny earrings on and that it’s worth spending money on good sunglasses. Not bad at all!