F/B Mytilini

Warning to Travelers: As a foreigner you are more likely to be screwed by unscrupulous travel agents then locals will be. Case in point: Andrea buys our tickets from the shipping agency of Lesvos which has a monopoly on all the ferries coming and leaving the island. She makes it clear that it is very important that she have a window cabin due to her extreme claustrophobic-emphysema.

The woman assures her that it does. Of course when we are taken to our cabin by the porter it has no window, in fact it's a dungeon. When we complain to the porter he becomes upset.

"They always do this!" he exclaims. "They are criminals!" Andrea goes to the purser to complain but is told that he won't know if there are any empty cabins until after we stop at Chios. I try again after we have left port but he tells me the same thing. There are no empty cabins because they were all booked but he is hoping that he might have an extra one. He repeats to me that he won't know until after we stop in Chios.

So our journey begins in a disappointing fashion. We had been looking foreword to our luxury cabin, matching twin beds and maybe a TV showing all night videos. Instead it's another bunk bed. At least the shower is nice, but Andrea in a state of vindictiveness, shaves every hair on her body and leaves it on the shower floor for the poor steward to clean up. Unfortunately the poor steward is me when I come in to take mine and discover the drain is clogged. I have my first hot shower since my last boat ride and that in itself is worth at least half the fare. I shave and even wash my smelly flip-flops.

Amarandi likes it though. The first class lounge is carpeted and the chairs are very comfortable. I have to admit, as angry as I was about the cabin, everyone is really nice. That's my feeling about Lesvos. I keep expecting people to be rude to me but they're all very kind. In Athens I am always on the defensive, whether I am buying a newspaper or getting a taxi. I always expect some kind of nastiness because that's how the Athenians are, and in many cases so are the Greeks on the more touristed islands. But in Mytilini, even the guys you expect to be mean, like the hardworking guy at the newspaper stand who is aggravated by the people who make a mess out of his newspapers while looking for the sports section, still smiles and jokes with me as I pay for my USA Today and Athens News.

I must have twenty pounds of sardines with me. I bought three more cans while we were walking around waiting for the boat. I almost bought some more in the cafeneon at the port. I don't know if I have become a sardine fanatic or I am trying to bring home a little piece of Lesvos. We've got five full unopened bottles of ouzo between us, and several half finished bottles, all different brands. I would have bought Ouzo Mini which was my favorite but with it's sudden surge in popularity I know I can find it in Athens and maybe in the tax-free shop at the airport.

When they announce dinner we go to the self-service instead of the dining room, following Mary's advice. It's awful and expensive. We long for the delicious mezedes of Mytilini. We arrive in Chios at nine. There is a big hole in the dock where the THEOPHOLOS had steamed full speed ahead into it. Traffic on the harbor road has to be diverted, the bow of the ship had cut so deeply into the street. I run back to the cabin to get my camera but on the way up I realize they are showing National Lampoon's 'Animal House' on the television in the lounge. I can't resist it and don't leave my seat until they announced that Mrs. Barrett should come to the pursers office. I go back to the room to inform Andrea that she is being paged. She's washing Amarandi and didn't hear it. A few minutes later we have our luxury cabin with matching twin beds and a window, which unfortunately only looks out at the people traveling deck class in the back of the ship. There is no TV so I go back to the lounge and watch the rest of my movi e.

After wild sex, inspired by the rolling of the ship and our plush surroundings I go up on deck to watch the sea. It has become rougher after Chios, and the moon, almost completely full, illuminates it to each horizon. It is one of those moments that I long for when I am trapped inland in North Carolina.