فصل 03

مجموعه: کتاب های خیلی ساده / کتاب: طلای آپولو / فصل 3

کتاب های خیلی ساده

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فصل 03

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Chapter three

Poulati

I took a taxi to Poulati and I met Eleni and Yiannis. They were very friendly. Eleni showed me Stavros’s house. I loved it. The house was just above the beach, and it had a small garden. It was very quiet. I sat down in the garden and looked at the sea. ‘I will get well here quickly,’ I thought. Stavros was right. This is a very special place.

What can I say about Poulati? It has a beach and a small harbour with a few fishing boats. There is Eleni’s tavena and a shop that is also the village cafe and bar. But that does not tell you very much. You can say the same about most Greek fishing villages. But Poulati is different.

Is it that everything is white? The houses are white, the church is white, and even the paths between the houses are white.

Or perhaps what I love about Poulati is the feeling that everything has been there forever. Of course that’s not true. The plastic chairs in the cafe are new and some of the houses are new, but it feels old. The village feels as old as the mountain behind the village and the rocks under the sea.

Or maybe it’s the colour of the sea. Blue as a winter sky without clouds but also green. The sea is green where it covers the large flat rocks on one side of the harbour and, further out, it is blue and green. And then just blue. Blue until it meets the sky.

Yes, that’s why I love Poulati. Because of the sea. I sat in the garden that first afternoon and I saw only the sea and a few small boats. Nothing moved, but very slowly the colour of the sea changed. You can sit all day and just watch the sea. In the cafes, the old men sit every day and watch the sea.

Once, the old men were fishermen, but now they watch the young fishermen go out in their boats. And watch them come back with fresh fish for all the people of Poulati. And some for the main town of Apollonia, which is in the middle of Sifnos, on the other side of the mountain.

The one road from Poulati goes to Apollonia. I soon found that there were only a few roads on Sifnos and only a very few cars. There were three or four buses every day which went to and from Apollonia, and there were taxis, too. But there were lots and lots of paths. Some of the paths were very, very old. They were stone paths and, as an archaeologist, I found them very interesting.

I wanted to walk all over the island along these paths, but I was still too tired. So, like the old men, I sat in the cafe and in my garden and I looked at the sea. Before I went to Sifnos, I thought that I was going to do lots of work on the island. I took lots of books to Sifnos. But I didn’t open them. I just looked at the sea and watched the fishermen.

And soon I began to feel better. I went for short walks around Poulati and Apollonia.

It was very quiet walking along these paths. There were birds but no cars and only a few people. But there were often people in the fields. They smiled and waved. Often they stopped me, ‘Come here! Come here!’ they said. And then they gave me tomatoes and oranges. Or they said ‘Come and eat with us.’ And then I sat down in their fields and ate lunch with them: bread, goat’s cheese and small, sweet onions. And we drank wine made from their grapes, and water. Sifnos, unlike many Greek islands, has lots of water.

Days passed very quickly. I got stronger every day. I love walking and this was an island big enough for good walks. I started to go swimming, too. And in the evening I went to Eleni’s taverna.

Sometimes I ate alone and sometimes I ate with Eleni’s brother, Yiannis. Yiannis was a fisherman. I thought that he was about fifty years old, but it wasn’t easy to say. Years of sun and wind and sea water made him look older.

Yiannis told me where I could find the best paths and he told me the names of the plants and the trees.

Yiannis always sat down and talked to me after dinner. He was very interested in archaeology, he said, and he showed me a small pottery cup.

‘I found this in my garden,’ Yiannis said. ‘How old is it, Professor?’ He always called me professor. It was his little joke. He liked to make me laugh. I always laughed when he called me professor.

‘I don’t know,’ I replied. ‘It could be two thousand years old or it could be fifty years old. The pottery here hasn’t changed very much. It’s the same now as it always was. If you want me to tell you the date of this pot, I must take it to Athens, to the university.’

‘It’s not important,’ said Yiannis. ‘The date isn’t important. It’s beautiful and that’s all that matters.’

I smiled. ‘That’s true,’ I said.

‘When I was a boy,’ Yiannis told me, ‘there were five hundred potters working in Sifnos. Now there are eleven. People find pots from Sifnos all over Europe, and today many of the pots in Athens are still made by people from Sifnos,’ he said. ‘If you go to Marousi, outside Athens, where all the potteries are, you will find lots of potters from Sifnos.’

But I was more interested in the old pots. I like thinking about the past. I prefer the past to the present. Now. What do we know about now, about the present? Nothing. There isn’t the time to find out. But when you try to find out about the past, there is lots of time. But then, I’m an archaeologist, as you know. The past is my country.

‘Where are the old potteries on Sifnos?’ I asked Yiannis.

‘I’ll show you,’ he said.

In Eleni’s taverna, as in all Greek tavernas, there were paper tablecloths on the tables. Some of the tablecloths had pictures of boats on them and some had maps of Sifnos. At my table, the tablecloth had a map of Sifnos. Yiannis took a pen out of his pocket and drew on the map.

‘There used to be potteries here and here,’ he said, ‘and here and here.’

‘What about that mark there?’ I asked.

‘That’s Aghios Sostis,’ said Yiannis.

‘Was there a pottery at Aghios Sostis?’ I asked.

‘No,’ said Yiannis. ‘That’s where you can find the gold mines.’

‘Gold? I thought that there wasn’t any gold on Sifnos now,’ I said.

‘You can find gold,’ smiled Yiannis. ‘Not a lot of gold, but a few bits here and there. Not many people know where it is. But I do. I’ll take you there one day. I often go fishing near Aghios Sostis. It’s a good place to find fish. There are caves under the water. The fish like that. And sometimes you can find bits of gold, too.’

‘Really. Are you the only person who knows where the gold is? You must be careful,’ I told Yiannis.

I was joking. We laughed. ‘The professor is worried that someone will take my gold,’ Yiannis said to Eleni. She laughed. We all laughed.

I went home and fell asleep. When I woke up it was dark. There was a very loud noise. Then another. I ran outside.

Eleni was running along the beach. There was a fire in the harbour. One of the fishing boats was on fire.

‘Yiannis!’ Eleni shouted. ‘Yiannis!’

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