Friday, 5 July 2013

Adventures in Cephalonia 2

Hello. My name is Kostas Economides and I am a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the South of England (USE for short). Well, actually that is not true really as the names of individuals and institutions in this blog have been changed to protect the innocent - and the guilty!

Having spent the first few days of their holiday in Cephalonia relaxing in and around Lassi and Argostoli Gus and Heather rented a car with the intention of visiting other parts of the island. So that they could start early on the Thursday morning they arranged to take delivery of their car on Wednesday afternoon.

As evening approached on Wednesday Gus suggested to Heather that, instead of having dinner in Lassi or Argosoli, they should use the car to find a taverna somewhere the other side of Lassi following the road to the east. And so it was that their adventure began,

They didn't stop at the first few tavernas that they passed, but after they had been travelling for about half an hour Gus noticed a road on the left, going up into the mountains. He took it. After about five more minutes they saw before them an old style building which had obviously survived the earthquake, all lit up and freshly painted. Although there was no sign it looked like a taverna with a number of tables arranged around the front of the building. Gus said "Let's stop here" and parked the car on the road just past the building. As they walked back towards the entrance a young Greek man in his late thirties came towards them. "Sorry" he said. "We are not open". He explained that he and his girlfriend had managed to buy the place a year before and were still in the process of restoring it. They might just be able to open later in the summer but more likely it would take until 2014 before it was ready.

As they were talking a woman's voice called out from within the building. "Is that English people you are talking to George? Bring them in and we can have a drink and a talk, It is so long since I have seen anyone from home." And at that point the woman appeared, all smiles and with open arms to welcome them.

“Hello” she said. “I’m Rebecca. George and I are behind in our work on this place but it is wonderful to see someone from home out here. Not many British tourists take this road and I am beginning to wonder if we might have made a mistake in putting all out money into this project. But, as you can see, George is a wonderful carpenter and woodworker and he is doing a brilliant job in restoring this place to its full glory”.

So it was that Gus and Heather went into Rebecca and George’s place and the long evening and night began.

Rebecca prepared a Greek salad and a few other meze items. George plied them with the local rose wine. Rebecca told them the story of how she and George had met. She had been a member of the cabin crew for one of the charter airlines that flew to Cephalonia from the UK. But on her very first flight she had been freaked out by what happened. After landing in Cephalonia when all the passengers had left she noticed that there was still a man right at the back of the aircraft. At first she assumed he was sleeping, but when she got closer she found that he was dead. Presumably at some point in the flight he had suffered a heart attack. Nobody had noticed, not even those sitting next to him; or if they had realised they decided to ignore the situation in case it delayed them getting off the plane.

After a few more flights Rebecca had decided that she couldn’t do the job. She kept thinking that she would come across another dead person. Of course there was also an inquiry into what had happened. This required her to stay in Argostoli for several days to talk to the local Greek police and various other government officials. Having spent a few days being interviewed and giving statements she decided to quit the job and stay on the island and look for work.

Rebecca told how she had managed to get a job as a waitress in a waterfront taverna in Argostoli and it was here that she had met George. He had come in to eat with some of his friends and she had served them. Right from the start there had been an attraction and it wasn’t too long before the two became friends and then lovers. Heather told me that she wasn’t surprised as George was a very good looking man with a twinkly smile, and Rebecca was an attractive blonde – they made a handsome couple.

As Rebecca’s story went on George had been refilling Gus and Heather’s glasses with the rose wine. Suddenly realising how much he had already drunk Gus tried to stop the next refill and said that they really must be leaving. “Nonsense” said Rebecca, “We have only just started to enjoy ourselves. You can stay here tonight. Let’s get something stronger to drink. Do you prefer ouzo or Metaxa?”.

And so it was that Gus and Heather stayed on with George and Rebecca, drinking and talking late into the night and early morning. Later things became a bit difficult as Rebecca and George started to niggle each other, eventually getting into a full blown argument about whether Jesus was the Messiah or just another Jew. It was at this point that Gus and Heather realised that Rebecca was Jewish. By now she was having a bit of a rant and George stormed off. A few minutes later they heard him power up his motorbike and disappear up the road into the mountains. So there they were, left with Rebecca who was now in tears. But I shall leave it there. The rest of the story must wait for another day.

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