Athens unravels

One comment filled in all the gaps

One comment filled in all the gaps

ANCIENT ATHENS: Situated on a hill above the city and dating back to the fourth millennium BC, The Acropolis and its temples, such as the parthenon (pictured) are an awe-inspiring sight.
Natasha (above right) shows Camila around Athens before they escape to the island of Mykonos.

As the shadows retreated into crisp lines, my predator became clear. There beside my bed, a soup-spoon-sized, black cockroach rustled through an empty plastic bag. Never in my life had I been so happy to see a giant cockroach. Cringing I lay back down and closed my eyes, leaving the light on in hope that my predator would retreat to his cupboard home.

The next day followed much as the first — strange and unsettling. I was taken to purchase local meats, accompany Anastasia to a haircut and peruse the shops. This was all normal. The unsettling part came in the form of the strange comments and gestures made by Dareios; a hand on my shoulder, a wink across the street, a possessive “my ladies” comment.

When he said his shopkeeper friend had lent him a trailer to move some furniture up to the country (murder) shack, I tried to respond normally: “That’s nice, good friend.”

“Oh no, I gave him drugs,” he responded adamantly.

Pulling the tourist card I escaped the pair for the rest of the afternoon and headed directly to the centre of town and the main reason I had come, The Acropolis.

The sun was high in the sky as I made my way up the dry, sandy path to the summit. It wasn’t until I reached the top that I caught my first glimpse of the ancient site. Distracted by a queue of tourists who seemed to appear out of nowhere, it took me a moment to register the huge ivory column that rose out of the ground to my right.

I turned around, marvelling at the ruins I had failed to notice, scattering the hill below. After tagging on to a guided tour, I explored the ancient site. Huge, sandy-hued structures loomed above me, casting long, awe-inspiring shadows down the hill and striking silhouettes against the bold blue of the Athenian sky.

Below, cars, bikes and buses scurried through city streets. In the distance I could make out boats bobbing in the harbour — the contrast of old meets new was mind-boggling. When I had finished imagining myself thousands of years earlier, standing on the same site, toga-clad and surrounded by philosophical-looking figures, I wandered back down the hill and retreated to the shade of the marketplace.

After purchasing a pair of unabashedly touristy Greek sandals and an I-am-travelling-in-Greece wide-brimmed hat, I retired to the air-conditioned haven of Starbucks.

My American friend Camila would arrive tomorrow— just 12 hours to endure with the crazy couple. I contacted my hosts and said I would be home around 10.30pm — the latest time I could manage without seeming rude and hopefully avoiding any late night chats.

Returning to the apartment at 10.45pm, I buzzed intermittently for ten minutes with no response. After realising I had no wifi and no way to contact the couple who held all my belongings, I walked into the bakery next door and purchased a biscuit to help avert a panic-stricken meltdown.

I was just about to attempt a series of Greek-English communications with the shop assistant when I heard a voice behind me. Swivelling around, I was met by Dareios and Anastasia standing silently. They smiled as I turned.

“I thought maybe . . . you had gone out for the evening?” I queried, adrenaline surging my veins.

“No — just sorting out the trailer,” Dareios replied coldly.

“We’re having a dinner tonight. My friend, the one who lent me the trailer, he comes. We’ll cook traditional orange chicken.”

“OK, ” I responded, suspiciously.

We made our way upstairs and Dareios immediately took off his T-shirt, poured wine and began cooking.

“Why don’t you go have a shower,” he began, “after, we can do your massage.”

“You know what, I’ve got a headache. I think I’ll pass on the massage,” I said.

“Fine — I was only doing it for you,” he retorted, irritation pulsing the air.

Things were definitely escalating on the weirdness front. I sat awkwardly in the kitchen till the buzzer rang and a balding, pot-bellied, 50-something stumbled through the door.

“Acario, Yassoo!”

“Yassoo Dareios!”

The two slapped hands and stood a metre apart, babbling in Greek. Hearing the arrival, a towel-clad Anastasia darted into the kitchen, planting a kiss on Acario’s cheek before frolicking back to the bedroom.

There was a strange excitement in the air — I was not ecstatic.

Before long Dareios was ushering us all out to the balcony with another bottle of red. I sat at the table, trying to make small talk with a distracted Anastasia as Acario guzzled glasses in the corner.

“So the Acropolis was amazing. I can’t believe you guys live so close. Do you go up there quite a bit?” I said.

“Ah, not so much,” she replied.

“Look at him,” Dareios laughed as he lifted the carving knife and pointed at Acario, head slumped, belly brimming, snoring volcanically in the corner.

“Ah,” I feigned amusement, putting a piece of dry chicken in my mouth.

“So what do you think of polygamy?” Anastasia began.

All the saliva in my mouth that had not already been absorbed by the chicken suddenly vanished and I found myself gulping down wine, signalling the “I’ll reply when my mouth is empty” gesture.

I chewed, gulped and swallowed, chewed, gulped and swallowed, teasing out the seconds until it would be more socially awkward not to reply. It wasn’t the question that had thrown me off but the intention.

In one comment Anastasia had unknowingly filled in all the weird, massage-giving, health-advising gaps I had been trying to decipher . . . I was still a tad confused about how the weapons fitted into it.

“Oh, interesting question. Yeah, you know, I guess from an evolutionary perspective it doesn’t really make sense for us to be with just one person . . . are you guys in an open relationship or something?” I replied.

I cursed myself for asking the question but the people-pleaser in me couldn’t bear to leave the conversation on a cliff-top.

“Oh no, not open . . . we both just really like girls. Blue eyes, long dark hair — I go crazy for them.” Anastasia responded.

So there it was, the real reason I was being hosted. Anastasia stared me down, waiting for a response.

“Ah, you know that was a delicious meal — just what I needed. I think I’m going to hit the hay,” I said.

“Suit yourself,” Anastasia shrugged, her coy smile retreating into boredom.

“Whatever,” added Dareios.

I stood up casually, returned my plate to the kitchen, passing the pistol-laden bookshelf on the way. As soon as I was in the bedroom, I closed the door and messaged Camila.

“I CANNOT WAIT for you to arrive. Let’s meet at a cafe when you get here . . . and get the earliest ferry.”

Waiting for a response I lay back on the dubiously off-white duvet, hoping the couple’s invitation had appeared to have flown right past my blue eyes and metres clear of my dark brown hair.

• Follow Natasha at tashabroadblog.com

As the shadows retreated into crisp lines, my predator became clear. There beside my bed, a soup-spoon-sized, black cockroach rustled through an empty plastic bag. Never in my life had I been so happy to see a giant cockroach. Cringing I lay back down and closed my eyes, leaving the light on in hope that my predator would retreat to his cupboard home.

The next day followed much as the first — strange and unsettling. I was taken to purchase local meats, accompany Anastasia to a haircut and peruse the shops. This was all normal. The unsettling part came in the form of the strange comments and gestures made by Dareios; a hand on my shoulder, a wink across the street, a possessive “my ladies” comment.

When he said his shopkeeper friend had lent him a trailer to move some furniture up to the country (murder) shack, I tried to respond normally: “That’s nice, good friend.”

“Oh no, I gave him drugs,” he responded adamantly.

Pulling the tourist card I escaped the pair for the rest of the afternoon and headed directly to the centre of town and the main reason I had come, The Acropolis.

The sun was high in the sky as I made my way up the dry, sandy path to the summit. It wasn’t until I reached the top that I caught my first glimpse of the ancient site. Distracted by a queue of tourists who seemed to appear out of nowhere, it took me a moment to register the huge ivory column that rose out of the ground to my right.

I turned around, marvelling at the ruins I had failed to notice, scattering the hill below. After tagging on to a guided tour, I explored the ancient site. Huge, sandy-hued structures loomed above me, casting long, awe-inspiring shadows down the hill and striking silhouettes against the bold blue of the Athenian sky.

Below, cars, bikes and buses scurried through city streets. In the distance I could make out boats bobbing in the harbour — the contrast of old meets new was mind-boggling. When I had finished imagining myself thousands of years earlier, standing on the same site, toga-clad and surrounded by philosophical-looking figures, I wandered back down the hill and retreated to the shade of the marketplace.

After purchasing a pair of unabashedly touristy Greek sandals and an I-am-travelling-in-Greece wide-brimmed hat, I retired to the air-conditioned haven of Starbucks.

My American friend Camila would arrive tomorrow— just 12 hours to endure with the crazy couple. I contacted my hosts and said I would be home around 10.30pm — the latest time I could manage without seeming rude and hopefully avoiding any late night chats.

Returning to the apartment at 10.45pm, I buzzed intermittently for ten minutes with no response. After realising I had no wifi and no way to contact the couple who held all my belongings, I walked into the bakery next door and purchased a biscuit to help avert a panic-stricken meltdown.

I was just about to attempt a series of Greek-English communications with the shop assistant when I heard a voice behind me. Swivelling around, I was met by Dareios and Anastasia standing silently. They smiled as I turned.

“I thought maybe . . . you had gone out for the evening?” I queried, adrenaline surging my veins.

“No — just sorting out the trailer,” Dareios replied coldly.

“We’re having a dinner tonight. My friend, the one who lent me the trailer, he comes. We’ll cook traditional orange chicken.”

“OK, ” I responded, suspiciously.

We made our way upstairs and Dareios immediately took off his T-shirt, poured wine and began cooking.

“Why don’t you go have a shower,” he began, “after, we can do your massage.”

“You know what, I’ve got a headache. I think I’ll pass on the massage,” I said.

“Fine — I was only doing it for you,” he retorted, irritation pulsing the air.

Things were definitely escalating on the weirdness front. I sat awkwardly in the kitchen till the buzzer rang and a balding, pot-bellied, 50-something stumbled through the door.

“Acario, Yassoo!”

“Yassoo Dareios!”

The two slapped hands and stood a metre apart, babbling in Greek. Hearing the arrival, a towel-clad Anastasia darted into the kitchen, planting a kiss on Acario’s cheek before frolicking back to the bedroom.

There was a strange excitement in the air — I was not ecstatic.

Before long Dareios was ushering us all out to the balcony with another bottle of red. I sat at the table, trying to make small talk with a distracted Anastasia as Acario guzzled glasses in the corner.

“So the Acropolis was amazing. I can’t believe you guys live so close. Do you go up there quite a bit?” I said.

“Ah, not so much,” she replied.

“Look at him,” Dareios laughed as he lifted the carving knife and pointed at Acario, head slumped, belly brimming, snoring volcanically in the corner.

“Ah,” I feigned amusement, putting a piece of dry chicken in my mouth.

“So what do you think of polygamy?” Anastasia began.

All the saliva in my mouth that had not already been absorbed by the chicken suddenly vanished and I found myself gulping down wine, signalling the “I’ll reply when my mouth is empty” gesture.

I chewed, gulped and swallowed, chewed, gulped and swallowed, teasing out the seconds until it would be more socially awkward not to reply. It wasn’t the question that had thrown me off but the intention.

In one comment Anastasia had unknowingly filled in all the weird, massage-giving, health-advising gaps I had been trying to decipher . . . I was still a tad confused about how the weapons fitted into it.

“Oh, interesting question. Yeah, you know, I guess from an evolutionary perspective it doesn’t really make sense for us to be with just one person . . . are you guys in an open relationship or something?” I replied.

I cursed myself for asking the question but the people-pleaser in me couldn’t bear to leave the conversation on a cliff-top.

“Oh no, not open . . . we both just really like girls. Blue eyes, long dark hair — I go crazy for them.” Anastasia responded.

So there it was, the real reason I was being hosted. Anastasia stared me down, waiting for a response.

“Ah, you know that was a delicious meal — just what I needed. I think I’m going to hit the hay,” I said.

“Suit yourself,” Anastasia shrugged, her coy smile retreating into boredom.

“Whatever,” added Dareios.

I stood up casually, returned my plate to the kitchen, passing the pistol-laden bookshelf on the way. As soon as I was in the bedroom, I closed the door and messaged Camila.

“I CANNOT WAIT for you to arrive. Let’s meet at a cafe when you get here . . . and get the earliest ferry.”

Waiting for a response I lay back on the dubiously off-white duvet, hoping the couple’s invitation had appeared to have flown right past my blue eyes and metres clear of my dark brown hair.

• Follow Natasha at tashabroadblog.com

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