“Aren’t you Morag and Elspeth from Arbroath?”
The flight to Greece was uneventful but cramped. In the early eighties my wife Rita and I had little money but we wanted to have an exotic holiday, and found a really cheap charter flight to Athens. We arrived in the a.m. and found a squalid hotel in the Plaka and did the usual tourist rounds, the Acropolis, the Temple of Hephaestus, Syntagma Square etc. The highlight for us was going to a performance of Lysistrata in the amphitheater directly below the Acropolis. The play is about women withholding sexual pleasure from their men in order to end the Peloponnesian wars. They seize control of the Acropolis to get their men’s attention. Eventually, after a lot of confrontations and sexual innuendo, the men agree to peace talks and the play ends on a happy note. The play was in Greek but the spectacle and the enthusiasm of the audience towards the well-known actors made the evening memorable.
We weren’t really interested in staying in a big polluted city, so we decided to take a ferry to Mykonos in the Aegean Sea. On arrival at the dock, a phalanx of women dressed in black met us. They were touting rooms in their houses to rent. We found one for around $5 a night (Greece was cheap in those days) and settled in. The room was simple and clean with a bathroom nearby. A few of the rooms were filled by other guests and next door lived a French couple that seemed to spend all their time making love. Every evening we were greeted by the nonstop mantra of, “Oh Jacques, oh Jacques, oh, Jacques…” bleeding through the thin walls.
Breakfast was Greek yogurt with local peaches and honey; lunch was a gyro sandwich or salad at one of the many stalls on the various beaches. In the evening we would go for drinks at the Sundown Bar. There they served grilled octopus that had been caught live, then beaten on the rocks for tenderizing, then hung out all day in the sun. It was delicious, and complemented the local wines. The bar consisted of a few tables set on the edge of the water. Haunting Greek music was played as we watched the sun sink behind the island of Delos. Once the sun had set, the bar closed and we would saunter to one of the outdoor restaurants for a delicious yet remarkably inexpensive meal of grilled fish, lamb or pork.
During the day we would visit the many beaches around the island. Our favorite was Super Paradise. It was a fully nude beach populated mainly by gay men but with a good representation of heterosexuals. I have no problem with nude beaches, after all, I don’t have to look at myself. One thing I have noticed about these beaches is that most people do not look good naked.
There is something magical about the Greek islands. A combination of light, colors, and heat cast such a spell that after a few days there, time disappears and anxiety fades. The trip to Super Paradise was by fishing boat. In the morning we would amble down to the port and sit in one of the boats. When enough people had arrived, the pilot cast off for the beach. In those days the beach had a small tavern, a toilet, and some shady areas. The beach, surrounded by high cliffs had emerald green water and white sand, and was a perfect place for sunbathing and chilling out.
One day, instead of taking the boat we decided to rent a small motorbike and go by land. I had driven a motorbike before but never with a passenger on it. After a while I got the feel of it and we headed off to Paradise. On arrival there was a very steep dirt path down to the beach. Going down was easy if a bit hairy. On the way back up, the motorbike skidded and crashed into a wall. Blood was pouring down my face, and my knee had a big gash in it. Fortunately my wife was uninjured. By pure luck, a van passed by and upon seeing us, the driver helped me inside and immediately drove us to the local doctor’s house. I was tended to right away. The doctor was Greek but had recently returned to Greece after 30 years practicing in New Jersey. In no time he stitched me up and sent me off. After a day or so of recuperating and listening to numerous sessions of, “Oh, Jacques” I felt well enough to venture out with a cane. If ever anyone searched for the perfect place to convalesce, they need look no further than Mykonos. The next day we returned to Super Paradise.
One morning while melting in the sunshine, two young women in bikinis approached and lay adjacent to us. By their crystal-clear accents and lilting speech I realized they were Scottish and probably from somewhere in the northeast. In their exchange I learnt that their names were Elspeth and Morag and they came from Arbroath. Unaware that I was within earshot they proceeded with their conversation:
“Should we take our tops off?” said one.
“I’m not sure,” said the other.
I think we should. It is a nude beach after all.”
“Ok,” said the other, and the tops came off.
A short while later one said to the other, “What about our bottoms?”
“I don’t know,” was the reply.
“But isn’t that why we came to a nude beach in the first place?”
“Yes but what if someone we knew saw us?”
“That’s impossible, we’re thousands of miles away from home. No one will ever know. Lets do it.”
Carefully the bottoms were removed and the two of them lay there stark naked.
I stood, walked over to them and said in a strong Scottish accent, “Aren’t you Morag and Elspeth from Arbroath?”
The two women shrieked, grabbed their clothes, and fled.