November 17, 2007

Greece was not green like I had expected from Renaissance poetry about Arcadia. Delphi and Athens were a bust. Stones and tourists in the searing summer heat. So it was off to the islands. I met Count de Stefano on the flight over to Mykonos. He was from Venice, born in a palazzo on the Grand Canal. Charged, fantee, and girl crazy.

We were deposited on the runway, a rocky north African landscape. It was all new to us. De Stefano grabbed the lone taxi. He spoke Greek, and god knows what else. With no plans or accommodations, I was invited to come along for the ride. The Count had reserved a suite, where he invited me to crash, “€œuntil you get lucky…”€

Then it started, in the lobby. Monsieur, il n’y a pas de chambre ici! The suite had been reserved for the following week. The concierge in Athens had somehow made a mistake. Looking at the lobby and down to the beach, De Stefano fell silent. The rough edges of Mykonos disturbed him. Without pretense or rancor, he calmly informed the Réception girl: “€œThis place is a toilet.”€ Well, it was not Sardinia.

We were advised to rent a yacht. But there was no crew, at the moment, to go with it. Count asked for a helicopter. Helicopter yes, pilot no. Count phoned his wife in Paris. Then recognized a pimp from Cannes. Next, in the middle of the road, both hands up in the air, Count commandeered a moving taxi, occupied by a Swiss couple. Unperturbed by the intrusion, they confirmed that there was no fresh water on the island.

So who needs water? For me, it was Mexico all over again, but with a different beer. Fix instead of Dos Equis. Chaos and goats, white rocks, sea breezes and blue skies. And somewhere in the vicinity, the sacred island of Delos.

We traversed Mykonos in our hijacked taxi. De Stefano speaking Greek to the driver, French to the Swiss, English to me. We arrived somewhere at last. A place called the Aphrodite Hotel. German girls, Giselle Bundchen types, were running naked on the beach.

I dove into the sea, to sober up. De Stefano poured a tall glass of Johnnie Walker Black Label from a bottle he kept in his suitcase, to cheer up. He then launched into a lecture: Mondo Cane, Saint Tropez, and the dozen or so transnational conglomerates which control the world.


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