It’s later than 10pm… the car is cruising along the narrow cliff-top road to Oia, while every muscle seems to be screaming with pain…. or maybe it’s extreme soreness. After a loooong hard day I’m looking forward to a hot shower and a long sleep. The high-beam is washing across the cliff face as I drive along the familiar road to the little village I call home. It’s a winding road which during the day is as spectacular as any on this planet… if not more so. But darkness is a great equaliser… all you can see is what your headlights light up and the Santorini rock formations at night can make you feel like you are on another planet.
Suddenly there is a silhouette… a young Japanese guy walking along the side of the road… hood over his head and a look of frightened despair on his face. Every local knows what this image means… this is a tourist who has either run out of petrol or his hire car has broken down. The brain takes a second or two to process the image when a couple of hundred metres further along another… even more disturbing image appears. A young Japanese girl standing in front of a small car… arms folded and looking very distressed. The car was in front of the “wall of love” – the wall of black volcanic pumice on which young lovers stop and write their names with white pebbles. The look on her face said it all… she was scared and concerned about her companion. As my car took the wide corner in front of her she literally looked like a rabbit caught in the head lights.
I stopped the car and started to reverse… keeping an eye in front of me as I was now on the wrong side of the road. When I was finally in front of her I asked if she was ok… and if the guy I saw on the road was with her? She nodded nervously and in very poor English said that the car was “stuck”. Without really thinking I suggested that she come in the car so we can go and get her companion… immediately realising how ridiculous that must have sounded to her. Its pitch dark… some guy pulls up and asks you into his car… absurd.
I suggested that she wait in her car while I go back and pick up her companion. Her eyes wide open… she nodded as I took off to find the hooded young samurai. I didn’t have to look for long as instinct or the realisation that he was a very long way from help had made him turn back towards his car and his girlfriend/new wife. I picked him up and we were soon discussing how their car happened to be stuck in very soft pumice stone. Putting my headlights on their car we realised just how hopelessly stuck they were.
An interesting discussion followed… how we can best dislodge this car from the black pumice that had claimed the front right wheel. Soon we were both under the car trying to remove as much pumice from either side of the wheel… following which I suggested we tie a rope to their car and mine…as I tried to reverse them out of the hole. The young samurai was quickly under both cars tying the rope and giving me hand signals that everything was ready. He got in his car as I started to rev up mine and slowly trying to reverse. My head lights happened to catch the profile of the Japanese girl… hands together in Buddhist prayer… finger tips under her chin. The wheels spun as the rope stretched… the young girls eyes wide open as she watched their car starting to move. After what seemed like an eternity… through a cloud of dust, their car moved back and out of the foot-deep hole it had dug itself into.
Japanese girl claps… jumps up and down and says something to the young samurai, who gets out of the car, signals two thumbs up and proceeds to untie the rope at both ends. He hands me the rope through the window and I proceed to move my car out of the way. I got out and looked at the hole their tyre was in… realising these young people would’ve spend the night here if they hadn’t got help. I got back in my car and turned around… my headlights catching the young couple looking a little confused that their helper was seemingly running away. I leaned out of my window and wished them a “safe” holiday as I drove off… the last image my head lights caught was a beautiful pair of young Japanese people bowing in unison as I drove off. The trip to Santorini was probably a life-long dream for one or both of them… yet an innocent stop at the wall of love had probably created a scary couple of hours for them. Now they were on their way back to their hotel…their holiday/honeymoon dream restored. As it should be !
PS: I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything for a while… the new Aegean Designs shop has been keeping me very busy for the past three weeks. It’s small but very cute… and I’ve had a fantastic time creating all the hand-made fittings in it. More soon ;-)