A Visit from Prince Charles

Latsis Yacht

"This is Hemmingway weather." says Elaine on her way back from the outhouse where she was sneaking a cigarette. I don't know what that means except that it is a hundred degrees and the only thing to do is try to find a cool shady spot in the house and wait until the sun disappears behind the mountains. When we enter this period of relief I sit on the steps of the old cistern listening to the cicadas. "Skyi tzidikas" is the Greek expression for days like today. It means exploding cicadas. In other words it's so hot the cicadas are bursting into flames. But now there is a cool breeze coming from the sea and the fire department can rest for another fourteen hours.

Andrea and I snorkeled down the coast getting to the last beach before turning back. In all we were in the water about three hours and I caught thirteen fish that we are saving for dinner. The water is so cold in places that I thought we might remain cool for the rest of the afternoon, but by the time we finished lunch I was boiling again and went back to spend another hour spearfishing down the south coast. I discovered a new way of hunting by hiding behind rocks and shooting at big fish when they passed, rather than chasing them around trying to catch them. I shot one big kefalo but I didn't have the patience to wait there for the next one. Then I got the hiccups so loudly I had to get out of the water because they sounded amplified through my snorkel and I was embarrassed in front of the fish. After four hours under water I feel like I am still swimming and my eyesight is wavy and blurred.

We all go to dinner at the restaurant in Metropolis owned by the man Jack calls "Double Limpy," because he uses two canes. The wine is good, the food OK, but it isn't Katina's and it is more expensive. Amarandi finds a stroller belonging to another baby and that keeps her amused for most of the evening. Jack tells us how much he dislikes living in Cairo and admits that he wants to go back to live in San Francisco, at least half the year. Martha says she thinks that Cairo must be very exotic. Jack agrees it is but not in a pleasant way. It's chaotic, dirty, crowded and the food is lousy. He's been there two years and going for a third so how bad can it be?

But I do find an appreciative audience for my lyrics. James Crispy is sitting with his friend Eleni who spent ten years in San Francisco but lives here year round. When I tell her I was a performer she asks me to recite one of my songs. I don't know if she really understood everything I say but she seems enthusiastic and has me recite several more before we leave Lulu's restaurant where they are sitting, and go to the bar at the port. My brother is there with Joan and two of the other girls and I join them until one by one, tired or bored they leave for bed. I rejoin James Crispy and Eleni and things are going fine until I bring up Prince Charles' visit to Kalohori last August on Latsis' yacht. James, who hates royalty, or anyone besides him talking about them, becomes moody and asks Eleni if they can please leave. Suddenly, I am alone.

Prince Charles did actually come here last summer. So did George Bush. Both the guest of a billionaire named Latsis who is trying to gain favor with both governments for some projects he has in mind. But while Bush endeared himself to the mostly republican Greek-Americans by jogging through the olive groves one morning, the royal entourage kept to themselves in a tight little group on the beach. Surrounded by idle motorboats, water-skis, wind-surfers and jet-skis they huddled together, afraid to go in the sea or to ask the ship's crew, who were there to attend to their every need, to teach them to use any of the expensive beach toys they had with them. Finally they were all ferried back to the mother ship, bigger than any ferry on the Aegean, for a nice English lunch, leaving the toys behind for anyone who wanted to play after they had eaten. An hour later the launch returned with one old English gentleman who walked down the beach twenty yards in either direction before returning to the royal towels. There he waited until another motorboat appeared, this one carrying a small sailboat like one you might find on the Thames, and as the old man watched, they unloaded it, then helped him to get in. He sat in his sailboat for ten minutes, but something was wrong. There was no wind and drifting along a few feet from the shore was certainly not exciting enough for someone of blue blood. So the crewmen tied his small sailboat to one of the speedboats and pulled him slowly around the bay like a child's sailboat at a park pond. After this display I found it difficult to hate royalty or even rich people. It feels much more natural to pity them.

I have to hand it to Latsis. His obscenely large yacht sailed into the bay and dropped anchor at 8:00am. At exactly 8:30 his helicopter took off and headed in the direction of Athens. It promptly returned at 6:00pm. Even a visit from the Royal family could not keep Latsis from putting in a full day at the office.

July 6th

While Andrea is at her art class I play with Amarandi for awhile before taking her to Katina's for a breakfast omelet with her grandmother. I continue down the road where I run into Jack in his car on his way home from dropping off my brother and Joan who had gone up to visit them that morning when it was still cool enough to move. He asks me if I need a lift and after reflecting for a moment I decide to take advantage of his offer and go to the far harbor by Agios Nikolaos. Panayotis, Katina's husband, had told me that was the best place to fish. Jack drops me off and I leave my clothes and bag with him. It will be easier to swim the one mile back to town than to walk the winding, two mile round-about dirt road.

There are several fishing boats tied up and a few fishermen cleaning their nets, tossing damaged and rotten fish into the sea. Underneath the fishing boats is a mass of fish, mostly kefalo and melanouri, but the kefalo are small and I can't get close to the large melanouri. I swim around for awhile. I shoot a big perka but as I'm pulling him off my spear I became tangled in the string and accidentally let him go. I wait for him to reappear but finally give up. As I'm starting to leave I see a giant moray eel, slithering through the rocks, eating the discarded fish. Then I see two more all about three feet long and moving with a grace that transfixes me. My other spearfishing friends covet these creatures. Their meat is delicious and catching them is a challenge because if you miss, or you don't hit him in the head, he can bite your finger off quite easily they tell me. I consider going after one but to be honest, floating above them in a state of terrified wonder, as they seem to greet one another and do erotic dances makes me feel that shooting one would be an obscenity. Even the fishermen are watching them from the boat above. I continue watching them for about ten minutes and then begin the long underwater trip back to town. I catch a few fish on the way and also find someone's lost mask and a big shell. As I approach the town I am met underwater by a topless bathing beauty. It's Andrea who has come out to meet me. We enjoy a great lunch at Thea Katinas.

Return to Spearfishing in Skatahori Index

Athens Survival Guide

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