Jenny and The Yellow Bean

The Yellow Bean

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Our holiday had begun the week before. Landing at Rhodes Airport late in the evening we picked up our hire car, a little, yellow Fiat 500 with hardly enough room for us and our luggage. Compared to our transport when we lived there 25 years before, it was luxury. We called it the Yellow Bean.

Driving in darkness, headlights guiding our way, everything was different and nothing had changed. Masses of new tourist hotels along the way, small resorts grown large, big resorts spread even further. Road signs and turn-offs to towns and villages were recognised instantly, forgotten memories flooded back, the way they do when rifling through faded photographs, found in a box.

Flevaris Supermarket on the road by Kolimbia, where Jenny & Scary Mary had found the rat, stuck to a glue board behind a freezer, squealing for help, getting only the boot of the owner. The mechanic’s yard and workshop, outside Arkhangelos, where Tsambikos would strip down the engines of the Captain Takis boat every winter to give them a service, and we would drink frappe and swap jokes. Passing the turn off to Haraki, our first date, we resisted the urge and carried on.

Soon we were turning the corner at the top of the hill. Out from the darkness The Acropolis on the hilltop was floodlit in the night sky and we could see the rooftop lights of the bars and restaurants in the village below twinkling like diamonds. It was the picture on a million postcards and holiday snaps. We called it home.

At the reserved space in the car park at the back of the village, we were met by the owner of our apartment, George Karaslanis. He was a young man, in his 30’s, and, like many Greek men, even in this heat he wore long trousers and a collared shirt. Very polite, with good English, he helped to carry our little bags up the back way into village towards the Ancient Amphitheatre. We’d only packed cabin baggage; it was good to travel light. Going up we passed the house of my friend, Dimitri. A light was on in what had been my room, when I stayed with him and Katerina one winter. I wondered who was living there now, behind the courtyard door.

George started telling us about the apartment when Jenny interrupted him.

“I know the house, your grandfather used to live there”

That stopped him in his tracks.

“You knew my grandfather?”

“I did, I used to clean his house, once a week, he was lovely. It was when I worked for your father, doing his villas in Pefkos and his cleaning and ironing. Tried to make me darn his socks once but I threw them in the bin and made him buy new ones! How is your father?”

George laughed.

“Ha, the same”

“We never met. You used to live in Athens, with your mother”

George nodded.

“When you came to stay with your father I used to get your room ready, iron your little trousers for you, lay everything out on the bed.”

I swear he nearly burst into tears.

We thought it would be fun to stay in an apartment where Jen had worked, as we booked on-line, but as we approached them, George said

“You have upgrade.”

 Carrying on up the cobbled alley he stopped at the brown door and let us in to a lovely little courtyard.

          “Tomorrow my father will come.”

Despite our protestations he insisted, and that was that. The first night of our holiday of memories was about to begin.

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