The boat

Posted by: Maria Atalanti

Published on: 30/01/2022

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Stelios loved very much the sea and at every opportunity he would take his red Mini Cooper and often, along with his two cousins, they would start for the beach. Not any beach. Where the waters were deep blue and transparent. In Cavo Greco, near Ayia Napa. Then, at the end of 1970, early 1980, the area was almost unspoiled, very few people visited it. The trip took about two hours. Many times, they would leave at six o’clock in the morning and return at eight o’clock in the evening.

Their favourite spot was the caves of Ayia Napa. A small bay with caves all around, in the rocks and up high other caves, carved by nature in limestone. The most beautiful was the corner cave, bright, gazing at Ayia Napa on the one hand and cape Greco on the other. In between the openings of the cave, from a small hole, like a porthole, you could see only the blue of the sea. The cave was white. It looked like a house on a Greek island. It fit perfectly with the lyrics by Elytis from Axion Esti, set to music by Mikis Theodorakis:

…and the houses looked whither

in the neighbourhood of the blue…

This was their cave!

There they also took the simple meal, which they carried with them, gazing at the endless beauty.

From this cave, it was difficult to reach the sea. There was neither a path nor a passable route. You had to carefully descend step by step the steep cliffs to arrive at a somewhat flat surface, also rocky. A beach, in the sense of a sandy one, did not exist. But when they entered the sea and sank into the deep blue, they made inarticulate cries of joy and were filled with energy and happiness.

However, their happiness was not complete. They had to have a boat to be able to travel to this sea. But where to find one? If for the three of them this was a desire, for Stelios it was a lifelong dream. It had become an obsession to him.

As he was, a resourceful and persistent man, he was looking for solutions, he was exploring every possibility. To buy one? Impossible. There was no financial ability. It was not enough that he, as a young man, earned a very low salary, it was also in the first years after the war of 1974, when the conditions were terribly difficult for everyone.

At first, he thought of finding drawings and building one by himself. He even managed to secure some plans. The task proved not only to be very difficult, but impossible when he dared to try. But the effort did not end there.

One day, Stelios called his cousins:

-Get ready, I bought a boat, he told them. Tomorrow we will go to the caves to try it!

-How, where, with what money?

-Come and you will see.

On Sunday, Stelios came to pick them up with his red mini-cooper. But there was no boat anywhere. When they asked him where the boat was, he assured them:

-Don’t worry. Come with me and we’ll have a boat!

So, they set off for the favourite spot in Cavo Greco. During the journey, the cousins constantly pressed him to tell them where the boat was. But he did not say anything. Real sphinx. When they reached their destination, Stelios proceeded to reveal:

-The boat I bought is a second-hand plastic one, which we will have to inflate. Unfortunately, when they sold it to me, it didn’t have any oars and I brought them. I couldn’t wait any longer!

To their surprise, he presented them with two old, worn brooms that he collected from his mother’s yard!

-Only these I could find! He said.

His cousins laughed at first, but somehow they were worried afterwards. On the boat instead of oars, paddling with brooms! Was that safe?

-Do not be afraid, Stelios assured them. We’re going to manage. What’s the difference? Oars or brooms? Both have the same shape!

They managed to inflate the boat and take it down to the sea. How did they not puncture it in the rocks? This is a mystery.

There was no problem. The worn brooms did a fine job. Stelios paddled and sang with his eyes closed. The sun was shining on the blue waters and although the only route they made was repeated circles in the small bay, their enjoyment was indescribable. Sometimes, they were diving into the sea to cool off and then climbed on their “boat”. Stelios felt like a shipowner and the cousins, happy passengers on a yacht, which also had live music!

Now in the evening, when the two cousins discovered that they had been scorched by the sun, it did not matter so much! They had made their first trip by private boat. Wasn’t that enough?

Today, Stelios has a regular boat that runs on petrol and travels comfortably by the sea. But that inflatable boat then, with the oars – brooms, will never be forgotten. It was the fulfilment of a deep desire and, by the standards of the time, the only possible solution!

I do not know if our ancient ancestors, when they said the saying “Poverty discovers trick solutions”, were aware of this. However, in this case, the saying could be paraphrased in:

“Poverty, turns brooms into oars and God help us!”



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