Cicadas chirped in the late afternoon as the heat from the summer sun began to lose its sting. Jen went ahead to the villa, along the narrow, cobbled alleys with tall white walls and brown wooden doors hiding the courtyards within. Any other Greek island or village, the doors and shutters would be blue, the blue of the sky, the sea and the Greek flag. In Lindos they were brown. Inside your courtyard you could do what you liked, outside, the man from the Archaeological Society would be round before the paint dried if you tried anything fancy.
I heaved the big, heavy, metal suitcase. It was dusty, and rusty at the locks and hinges. Late afternoon was quiet time, most of the day trippers had gone and anyone who could would either be napping away from the sun or lying on the beach, soaking it in. A donkey man and two donkeys came round the corner. Their day of carrying tourists from the Platia, the main square, up to the Acropolis, which stood high above the village, was over. I stepped back onto a doorstep to let them past. He gave one of the donkeys a little tap with his stick to hurry it up and made the loud, nasal sound I reckon donkey drivers must have been making to their donkeys for millennia. I hadn’t seen him before but caught his eye and automatically gave the local acknowledgement, tilting my head back imperceptibly, mouthing the word “yia”. He returned the acknowledgement, lifting his head even less, making a kind of half grin and flicked his eyes upwards.
It always reminded me of growing up in a mining village in Fife, where old men, passing in the street, would nod their heads and say “aye”, without breaking step.
I got to the villa we were staying at, at least I thought I had, but the door to the courtyard was closed and I had no key. Just to make sure I gave a two tone whistle, in reply Jen hollered hoo hoo back from behind the wall. It had been our way of finding each other all those years before, when Jen cleaned various villas throughout the summer, getting them ready for the owners, or tourists staying there.
The brown doors swung open and I lurched into the courtyard and dropped the case onto the mosaicked floor.
Right then, what have we got in here?