Chrissie Parker, who herself has written a book about Zakynthos, called ‘Among the Olive Groves‘, asked me to answer a few questions about ‘On A Greek Island’, which you can see on her latest blog post.
Finally, after four months on Zakynthos, and a month and a half off it, ‘On a Greek Island: A Season in Zakynthos‘ is available as an ebook on Amazon.com. It’s quite a thing to see it there after all these months. What started as an idea back in Brisbane about a year ago and got written during our (nearly) four months in Zakynthos is now a reality. Well, as much of a reality as an ebook can be. It’d still be nice to see it appear as a ‘real’ book, but that can wait.
One day on our previous visit to Zante two years ago we noticed workmen clearing up a large amount of sand on Solomós Square, the main square in Zákynthos town. We went about our business and thought no more about it. Reading the local paper the next day I found out what the sand had been for: jousting. I read that again: jousting? In Zákynthos? Ναι! Continue reading
Of all the nationalities I could have been if I wasn’t Irish, French would have suited me best. That has nothing to do with my French-sounding surname, which actually comes from a far-flung corner of county Mayo on the west coast of Ireland, but rather from the affinity I’ve pretentiously felt with the language and – oui – the culture since I was young. I did French in school, liked it, did well at it, read some French books, and really got into French cinema, especially if it involved nudity, which it usually did. To this day, my favourite movies include “Le Boucher”, “Diva”, and “Rififi”. Some days here on Zakynthos, I feel like I’m starring in my own Marcel Pagnol adaptation, like the père in “La Gloire de mon Père”.
After dropping one pair of Aussies off (Alexander and Eoin, at school), we proceeded to the crossroads at Lithakiá to pick up another. Louise, who runs the Zakynthian tradition, food and culture facebook group, and her sister Julie, had arranged to meet us there and come walk the Marathiá coastal trail with us this fine May morning. In fact, it’ll soon be too fine to do this sort of walk, so Tina and I have had to be diligent in getting as many walks in Zakynthos done as we can, while we can.
As we got out of the cars at Botsolo Taverna, the starting point of our walk, a fifth member of the group jumped out of the boot of Louise’s car: Mishka, a huge female rottweiler. Well, as Louise explained, ‘mishka’ means baby bear in Russian, so Mishka is well-named indeed.
Mayday in Greece
The first of May is known as Protomagiá (Πρωτομαγιά) in Greece. People get the day off work, kids get the day off school, and everyone heads out into the countryside to pick flowers. Knowing far better than to ask Alexander and Eoin if they wanted to go for a walk after breakfast, we simply told them to brush their teeth, put on their outside gear, and see us downstairs in five minutes. In the meantime Tina and I had drawn up a plan to drive up to Vrachíonas, the highest mountain here in Zakynthos, and walk to the top. Twenty minutes later, we were ready to go.. Continue reading
We parked on the edge of Kalamáki near the beachfront hotel that probably wouldn’t get planning permission anymore, and walked around it to get to Crystal Beach. Had the hotel taken its name from the beach, or vice versa? With the sun right in our faces, we tramped along the sand, appreciating the fact that there wasn’t a sinner, or a nudist, in sight. The sun had risen just over an hour ago, over that very hill, Mount Skopós. I had thought about taking my togs and having a quick dip, but at 8:15 in the morning it was still a bit fresh. No need to worry: we had all season. The darkness of the sand here reminded me of the beaches on Santorini. I took a photo of a small starfish. When was the last time I saw one of those? I’m not 100% sure I ever have before.
The book about Zakynthos is coming along nicely, if slowly. I’m up to 12,500 words. That’s still much less than I wrote for my Malaysia Diary, though. However, following advice I got on the Google+ Travel Writers community, I’ve downloaded Scrivener, a program specifically designed to help you write a book. I wasn’t convinced that Word was the answer, nor Google Docs, which I’d been using up to now. Scrivener‘s a cool word. I came across a while ago it doing Irish on Memrise; the Irish for writer is scríbhneoir, pronounced skreev-nore, more or less, so they suggested using this old English word as a way to remember it, since they’re obviously cognates.
Megali Domada in Greece
Anyway, one of the reasons we came to Zante as early as April was to spend Easter here, something we’ve never done. We never spend Easter anywhere, really; other than having a very big meal at Tina’s parents’ house, Easter usually just goes by unremarked, like passing an internet celebrity in the street. Anyway, as you might have guessed, Easter is big in Greece. Although Easter itself is called Πάσχα, Páscha, the week leading up to Easter, Holy Week, is called Μεγάλη Βδομάδα here, literally Big Week. It’s certainly bigger than Christmas. Continue reading
“A Season in Zakynthos”
As a title for the book I’m thinking of “A Season in Zakynthos”, which admittedly is derivative of “A Year in Provence”, which itself can’t be the first time someone thought to use A Unit of Time in Such-and-Such a Place as the format for a title of a book. I want the name of the island – Zakynthos – somewhere in there. Think of “Under a Tuscan Sun” as an evocative title. But then again, every book has a subtitle nowadays, so I might restrict it (Zakynthos) to the subtitle, and instead call the book “Koukla House: A Season in Zakynthos”. Although it’d be nice to get Zante in there too. I think it’s a nice, bouncy, Santy Clause kind of a word; too good to waste. So maybe “The Zante Cause: A Season in Zakynthos”? Continue reading
We arrived in Zakynthos by the front door, at the beginning of April, the end of orange season. To fly in, as we sometimes do, is to skulk in through the servants’ entrance. We sailed into Zakynthos harbour this time like pirates, boots up on the gunwale, telescopes out. Continue reading