Intro: In Search
of Sardeles Pastes

Sifnos to Lesvos in eighteen hours. Andrea doesn't believe it can be done in less then two days. I insist that if the timing is right and everything is on schedule, we can make it. We are sitting at a cafe drinking ouzo and eating octopus on the Western Cycladic island of Sifnos, making our plans to get to the island of Lesvos, next to Turkey on the other side of the Aegean Sea. My plan is to avoid spending a night in Athens by taking a ship that arrives in Pireaus before the night ferry to Lesvos leaves. By scrutinizing the schedules that are posted on almost every building in the port of Kamares I realize it will be a tight squeeze with maybe ten minutes between boats, or maybe no time at all. If the ships are moored too far apart, forget about it. Another night in Athens drinking ouzo with my friends til the wee hours of morning. I don't know if my constitution can handle it.

I outline my plan to Adonis Kambourakis, the restaurant owner and like many other port dwellers, an expert on the Hellenic ferry boats. I'm leaning towards Tuesday.

"An excellent choice!" he tells me because that is the day the boat does not stop in Kythnos, which could save us at least a half an hour. We suddenly like our chances and go back to our drinking.

Two days later we are saying our goodbyes as the ship comes in to the harbor on time, but leaves twenty-five minutes late. But we load and unload passengers and traffic in Serifos in about two minutes and even the sailors are saying that we will be in Athens by 6:30, giving us a half an hour to find our boat which should not be hard since it is the size of a medium-sized skyscraper layed on it's side. We pass the temple at Sounion like ships have for two thousand years and check our watches knowing that we have at least an hour to go. As we sail into the port, Andrea goes below with Amarandi to make sure that we are the first off the boat when they lower the ramp. I stay on the top deck until I see where the ferry Mytilini is docked. The question is where will we dock? Hopefully it will be within walking distance. We keep sailing deeper into the harbor getting furthur away from the next leg of our journey. Finally we turn around in front of the train station and back in. Andrea has to wait 5 minutes for me to get off the boat because I am hoplessly trapped behind a slowmoving group of old ladies trying to help one another down the stairs. By the time I reach her we have twenty minutes until the ship leaves, and a twenty-five minute walk to get to it. I notice one of the long buses like the ones at the airport that take people from the terminal to the plane. The sign says it's free and a man calls out to us.

"Come children. This will take you to the boat"

Andrea thinks we should walk. Who knows when this bus will leave since one had just left a few moments before.

"Don't be foolish", he says. It's over two kilometers to the Mytilini. You will never make it."

We board the bus and sweat it out for 10 minutes until the driver jumps in and fires it up. We drive past a line of ferries for the Cyclades and Crete. In five minutes we are at the gangplank of our ship being told that we can't get on without a ticket. Andrea runs across the dock to the ticketstand and waits in line while I keep Amarandi calm and try to avoid looking at the sailors watches as they start untying the giant ropes that hold the ship to the shore. After what seems like ages Andrea returns with the tickets and they let us board. We dump our unessentials in the luggage compartment and climb to the top deck. As we sail out of the harbor of Pireaus, the sun is setting over the Peleponisos, painting the acropolis and the city of Athens a gentle pink, while we celebrate with a couple small bottles of ouzo and some too-salty peanuts.