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  • Shelley Dark

#13 the magic is back

After yesterday's walk I hobbled to the kitchen to make my morning coffee like an old crone! Nothing permanent that another good ten kilometre walk on uneven rocks won't fix.

It's a dripolator machine and I've never had one. My first cup on the first day was so strong it would have put hairs on a baby's chest. The next day I used water from the soda water bottle. Sparkling coffee could be the new thing.

This morning it was perfect. Just the thing for the next Mrs Adamopoulou raid. Could I be bothered trying again? Persistence is king, I told myself.

I saw this woman go beneath my window with her donkey so I raced downstairs. Luckily there was a truck full of soil blocking her way, so I was able to take her photo.

Such a sweet donkey! She was carrying folded bags on her back to cover bales of hay to carry home for her own dinner.

She's a strong independent woman I'd say wouldn't you? She very graciously gave me permission to take her photo.

By the time I went back to collect my things, she had loaded the donkey with two big bales of hay and was on her way home again.

I arrived at the archives very shortly after 10am. Stam was sitting at the front desk with Eleni. Yes, Mrs Grumpy's name is Eleni too, but from now on she's Mrs Jolly - she's so nice it's hard to believe it's the same person.

'Is Mrs Adamopoulou in Stam?' I asked, knowing in advance what the answer would be. 'Yes, she is,' said Stam. My jaw dropped. 'But she's busy on the phone,' he added. That sounded more like it. I nodded in sympathy. 'May I wait?' I asked. 'Sure,' said Stam.

I walked around the archives again, took a photo of the front doors of the our hero's family mansion on display on the stairs between the first and second floors, browsed the museum gift shop. Time passed. More time passed. I was staying.

An extraordinary book in the gift shop - the entire diary of a man on board a ship during the Greek War of Independence. In Greek. Pity.

Finally, suddenly, she was there! 'I'm sorry to keep you waiting,' said Mrs Adamopoulou, smiling. 'Won't you come in?'

A tiny chiahuahua in a knitted jacket was waiting inside her office door. 'That's my dog, said Mrs A. "How gorgeous,' I said. It could have been a fire-breathing dragon and I would have admired it.

She was charming. Absolutely charming. We spoke for about fifteen minutes. I explained my research, how we'd come to a dead end. She suggested the town hall in Athens. Then she said, 'You know we have a book about the family don't you?'

I gaped. 'The one by Papamanolis written in 1930?'

'Yes,' said Mrs A. 'You have it?' I asked again, like an idiot. Mrs A smiled. 'Yes, we have it. I'll have Eleni in the archives find it for you.' I didn't say that Eleni and I had searched for it on the book shelves the day before yesterday and it wasn't there. I did tell her how I've been writing to antique book stores in Athens searching for it for the past six months.

They say fortune favours the bold. 'Mrs A may I photograph the pages of the book? I'll find someone to translate them for me.' 'Of course you may.'

Too easy.

I went outside to the front desk again. 'Isn't she wonderful, Stam?' I gushed. 'Do you know my family thought you'd murdered Mrs Adamopoulou so you can take her wages!' Stam laughed, very loudly. 'Yes, yes, yes,' he said, still laughing. 'That's exactly what's happened! That's not really her you know. We hired an actress!'

I raced upstairs to Eleni. She was holding the book in her hand. 'Where was it?' I gasped. 'In another room,' she said. I could have danced her around this room. Panagiotis was there too. "Would you like a cup of Greek coffee?' he asked. I had a lot of photographing to do. 'Yes, please,' I answered. The cup didn't ever eventuate. But very nice of him to offer!

While I was photographing, Panagiotis was deciphering the signatures on the declaration of war in 1821.

Looking for names from our hero's family. Isn't he a darling?

It didn't take long to photograph the 160 odd pages of the book. By then it was nearly 1pm. Time for lunch with Maria. Once again I bolted out of the door. I needn't have worried. When I arrived at Psarapoula one of the boys opened the door to say they were closed for a funeral. I texted Maria. 'Let's go to Piato,' she texted back. 'Can we make it 1.30?' I'm getting used to it. No one is in a hurry on Hydra.

I thought I might as well have a wine while I waited. Katerina was so warm in her welcome. 'I've made a vegetable soufflé for you!' she said. When Maria arrived, we both ordered the vegetable soufflé, and Maria ordered an ouzo. She filled it with water. I love the licorice taste, but not at lunch with food.

We talked non-stop over our lunch, a creamed vegetable bake rather than a soufflé with Katerina tut-tutting 'Your food is getting cold!' We couldn't help it.

The salad was fresh and fabulous too. There was too much to say to eat! Maria is going to Athens to stay with her brother in Piraeus for the weekend. Her website should be finished soon - one of his friends is helping her. 'I hope he's yummy,' I said. Her blush confirmed he is. We talked about the book I'd photographed. Her research.

Then we were talking about my walk yesterday and the big dog. Maria asked to see my photos. She started at the beginning. Just for this exercise, let's say our hero's name is Peter Black. Black is a common name on Hydra, but so are many other names.

Maria looked at the dog. 'Oh my goodness,' she said. That's 'Milva Black.' You can imagine my reaction. 'He belongs to Ioannis Black. Son of Peter Black.' Son of aunty Flora who made our amygdalota. The donkeys I'd taken - one of my shots had Ioannis Black in it.

She flicked further, exclaiming over my photos, asking if she may have copies of them.

The ruin belonged to Antonis Kriezis. No not the Black family! But Maria's father rented this land when Maria was a child, and she and her siblings played all the time in the ruin. She knows it like the back of her hand. Her father's villa is quite close.

Then she came to our blue bag man. She laughed. 'You won't believe this. This man is a Black too.' By this time I was really laughing. 'You're making this up!' I chortled. 'No, really!' she said earnestly.

She kept flicking. Finally she was up to this morning. And our woman with the donkey. She put her hand over her mouth laughing again. 'She lives at Kamini. Her name is Tassia Black.'

Maria finished her lunch, but I sat and finished mine after she'd gone - she had to go to the archives, and then she's teaching students until 9pm! What a woman! I didn't eat the salad, so Katerina packed it up for me to bring home. Perfect!

The shops were open for a boat in the port, so I shopped a little and didn't arrive home until 4pm. Hasn't it been the most remarkable day? The magic is back and my head is spinning. I'm still as stiff as a board by the way from yesterday's walk. And it's supposed to be wet tomorrow. So I'm having a massage at noon at Commo Gusto above. It looks to be a hairdresser and fingernail bar, so won't that be interesting?

I'll leave you with an abstract of my bedside light.

Until tomorrow buddies, I always wait you,

shelley dark, writer 

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