I apologise for the silence. These last two weeks I have been researching the impact of tourism on the Greek economy – well, mainly my impact on the beautiful island of Zakynthos. Turns out that the major impact is on local rose wine sales which went up by at least a third…
It is a lovely island. The sea is all turquoise and aquamarines and in August the skies are bright fierce blue with the occasional build up of cloud over the hills. It is hot, of course. Very hot. White rutted tracks wind through the olive groves and vineyards and up into the hills if you care to explore. Many don’t and in the resorts tourists stumble along pavement-less roads between tavernas and bars and shops, eating ice-creams and comparing insect bites.
Currently, excuse the pun; they are drying grapes by the roadside in the sun to make raisins. The thick dark blankets of fruit smell delicious. The next crop is for wine. They will certainly need more after we have left….
Last Sunday, had you been a seagull gliding high on the warm wind over Alykanas, its long narrow strip of beach littered with sun beds and people bobbing lazily in the warm water, you might have seen the little taverna perched overlooking the sea. If you had flown past the taverna and a few hundred yards further inland to the nearby fields, you would have glimpsed a middle aged woman running after a goat in her knickers.
Err… that would have been me.
I was trying to lasso the goat with my skirt. It’s a long story but suffice it to say I had been horribly conned by a kid. Over the two weeks of our holiday (the couple watching me chase down the goat are my sister and brother-in-law) we had made the almost daily pilgrimage through the white rutted paths amongst the olive groves to our very favourite beach hang out, Shoestrings ( more on that gem to follow.) Being me and in full Disney operational mode, I had begun to befriend the horses we passed with carrots and stolen sugar and had also made passing acquaintance
with a couple of goats, a mother and her young daughter, tethered in the field.
It happens that on the Sunday we find the goats so tangled up together by their ropes that they can barely move.
‘We can’t leave them like this!’ I say. I have been listening to far too much ‘Game of Thrones’ on my kindle. If I had a sword I would be waving it.
We all give it a go but we still can’t figure out how they got into such a knot. The rope is wound around the mother goat’s horns and around the younger goat’s legs. They look up at us pathetically. The little one almost falls over.
Then I have a brainwave.
‘I’ll just take off the little one’s collar,’ I hear myself saying. ‘And we can undo the knot.’
‘Is that wise?’ asks my brother in law. He is a scientist and likes to debate the evidence and think through consequences.
Too late I realise he has a point.
The little goat feels the thick leather slide from her neck and leaps gleefully just out of reach. Freeee eee eee she bleats rapturously and dives on some fresh grass.
‘Shit!’ I say.
‘Holy shit!’ says my sister, the vicar.
She watches horrified as the goat feints sideways as I try a rugby tackle.
‘We will go and get someone to help,’ I hear her and Steven sighing as they pull out the Greek-English dictionary to look up the word ‘goat’ and head away from my shameful attempts at kid wrangling. By this time I have taken off my skirt and twisted it into a useless kind of lasso and am running around the field like a crazy person. I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t come back.
Goats are nimble aren’t they? This one dances just out of reach of my skirt and disappears into the grape vines and maize. No amount of wearing or cajoling can get her out. I realise the tangle thing was a ruse. She had this whole thing planned.
Luckily for everyone I had put my skirt back on before my sister and brother in law had got hold of the farmer who took less than a minute to catch the kid and re-tether her. Goat farming was his second job, it turns out. In high season he was mostly off hiring jet skis to tourists.
‘Thank you for untangling the goats,’ he says. ‘Would you like a jet ski?’
‘We are leaving today,’ says my sister.
The farmer looks rather relieved. The goat bleats something rude.
The Greek word for goat is ‘katsika’, apparently. I however am called an ass.
Next blog involves graphic descriptions of seafood platters, the terrors of turtle spotting and more annoying pictures of sun and sea from Shoestrings.