The Married Couple Takes a Photo

Dave – Dave - Dave
do you have the camera out

take the -  no, no over there - 
no - to the left

Jim, try to get Albania
In the background

get that branch in the foreground 

John what are you taking a picture of?
over here – look at that temple

Peter, don’t allow strangers in the photo

Are you focused?
Sometimes you forget to focus

Albania, this was my first trip on a tour populated with local friends.  My mother, husband, son and I were days away from an OAT trip to China, when my mother’s dear friend dropped off an OAT catalog with the Dalmatian Coast circled and a sharpie scrawled note – we need two more people to join the tour.  Mom said yes – especially since I would share a room with her – my mother, not the friend.

I was completely unfamiliar with the Dalmatian Coast, thinking of the dog breed, but agreed to travel with my mother and these people I did not know.   

It worked out beautifully. Aside from spectacular scenery and friendly locals, it was endlessly entertaining to observe the dynamics of the group.  These were a collection of friends from college who went on to careers in education.  These were cousins and spouses of cousins.  

Based on years of group experience, there were two rules:  be on time and you can comment, but not complain.

Good rules, for more than just a tour.

Do I like tours?  They have their place.  In the case of traveling with my mother, a tour simplifies the process, takes care of the hotels and the transportation and in doing so, short circuits many possible cantankerous conversations (comments) about getting from point A to B.  

A tour helps me since I need to manage my mother and her luggage as well as my own.   We stayed in much nicer hotels than we could afford on our own.

The downside?  You are with other people. The down, downside?  I’m traveling with a parent 25 years older and 100 years slower than me.

Again the upside? Those other people talked with, helped with, and entertained my mother for up to hours at a time.

Giving me a break.

So I could observe and write.

About them.

Greek God

your bill?
the waiter – so many are tall, dark and handsome
leans over the white paper table covering
Okay – so you the octopus
you – mixed grill?
he counts with his pen
three glasses of wine
Okay, he holds his breath
I take 6% off because the sun is out.
add 10% because mama is sick
5% off because it’s Tuesday
7% off because I like you.
add 6 % because I hate my sister in law

86 Euro.

Inspiration:  Lunch at the edge of the world

True, true, story.  We disembarked our little ship for what is called “A free afternoon on your own”, which means that today, you pay for your lunch.   

Our small boat docked on the magical island of  Santorini. The purported location of Atlantis, sunk into the ground after a volcano erupted in the 16th Century BCE and sunk the center of the island and all its contents into the sea.  The remaining city clings to the edges of the bay – white against the brilliant blue sky.

Traveling in a tiny boat – 50 passengers, we easily beat out the enormous cruise boat docked in the middle of the bay and tendering in the passengers. 

We took the funicular from the dock to the city above and watched the family in our gondola take photos of their cruise ship through the dirty windows.

You used to be able to ride a donkey up and back on the narrow road.  But I believe those rides have been curtailed since the very large American tourists are taxing the donkeys too much.  Many back injuries.  Even tourists.

The town is packed with stores and shops, the merchants stand outside (they can easily see us coming) and offer us – everything.

I start to say reply that I’ll look later, but I am quickly mocked  “Yeah, yeah, you come back later.”

They are right.  I need nothing.  And the merchandise is far too expensive for me.  Clearly, it is not too expensive for visitors from larger ships.

Good for the Greeks.

Santorini is white hot and startling blue, all those photos on Instagram and Pinterest?  They are accurate.  

We make our way, slowly, since we are with mom, up to the edges of the town and choose a cafe not for the food but for the view.  We wanted to sit on the edge of the world.

Worth it.  Pay the money.

Or not, as my poem indicates.   

We rode the funicular down to the boat. One of our members who did ride a donkey for the full experience almost missed the boat.

 She called to us while listing back and forth on her mount.  “Don’t leave!”

The Greek crew couldn’t resist and pulled in the gangplank and pretended to raise the sails while the engine started up.  They waved goodbye.

Of course, they did not leave her.

I love the Greeks.