Returning to Corfu after a five year lapse in time,I was amazed to find more cars in the main town than people. Finding a parking place was one of the most challenging daily tasks for the locals. Another shock were the prices at the outdoor cafes. Is it possible that a cappucino can cost 3.5 euros,adding a not so fresh croissant for an additional 4 euros. Translated into American currency,the cost would be almost $11. No time to waste on the internet,the clock ticking at 3 euro an hour. But the most irritating of all the changes was the unwelcoming interaction with the Greeks. Dare ask a question and an annoyed,angry reply was forthcoming.
After being yelled at by bus information,I retorted in Greek,why are you so angry ? He immediately told me I was wasting his time because I didnt know where I was going.
After pounding the cobblestone pavement of Corfu town without finding a decent piece of clothing to buy,I spent alot of time at Bites and Bytes,a new internet cafe open 24 hours. Unfortunately after 4 pm, the room is filled with smoke, teenage boys chain smoking and playing video games. When I mentioned that this was no longer an internet cafe but a video arcade,I received a shrug.
I had come to Corfu to bring a wheelchair for my elderly ailing ex mother-in-law. Carrying socket wrenches along in my luggage,I successfully put the chair back together. After 3 days and nights of yelling and screaming between mother and son,typical in a Greek family,I escaped to the village I had been returning to for thirty five years. Vatos was a mountain village surrounded by olive groves but what brought people back,year after year,was Mirtiotissa,the most beautiful beach on the island,and for me,one of the most magical in the world. Once only accessible by foot along a steep rocky path,now there was a rough cement road all the way to the beach. Most people did not want to risk losing their exhaust pipe and parked half way down the mountain. My surprise was finding a parking lot there,charging 3 euros for the day. Aside from the parking lot and one restaurant,nothing had changed in thirty five years. As I hung over the cliff,looking down several hundred feet to the beach,I was still captivated by the view. The beach was fine white sand and the Mediterranean was a clear tourquoise blue. Besides its beauty,Mirtiotissa was also known for being the only nude beach on the island. As I searched the beach for a Dutch friend,I was surronded by naked bodies of all shapes and ages. I was the only American among a group of 60 or more middle aged nude Europeans. Most of them had been returning here year after year as I had. The pilgrimage everyday to Mirtiotissa was an all day affair for most of them but I was finding it hard after two hours of being assaulted by the sun. I remembered the days back in the seventies,when I had spent whole summers on the beach,six hours a day,with not more than twenty friends,all of us sleeping in the olive groves at night. I have changed as has the world,but Mirtiotissa is more or less the same. After four days of treking down the mountain,I made my farewells to Mirtiotissa,realizing I may never see this beautiful place again..