After the dizzy feeling
stopped, Fiona said, “Wow, where are we?” She and the others turned around
and looked. “Wait! I recognize this place. I dreamed about this place on
Thursday night, so did my mum. How strange.”
“Look at that water! It’s so
blue and so is the sky.” Elspet viewed the panorama.
“Elspet, you are so, how do I
say this, artistic. You always think things are beautiful.” Callum teased
her. “What do you see that’s so beautiful? Everything’s beautiful to you.”
“It is beautiful here. Just
look around. I’ve never seen anything prettier than this small bay. What I
mean is, look at the water and how it’s surrounded by the hills. Each is
dotted with white houses and they all have tiled, square roofs built up the
sides. And just look at all the flowers. They are so bright and look like
paint splatters among the green bushes. There’s some pink oleander, yellow
lilies, and cyclamen that look like butterflies. I see bougainvillea,
wisteria and the blue clusters of plumbago flowers everywhere I look,”
Elspet said. “You’ll never see flowers like these in Scotland.”
“I should be the one who
notices the flowers. After all, it’s my mum who has the huge flower garden,
but I’ve never seen anything like this and I have never heard of plumbago
flowers before.” Fiona rolled her eyes.
“I've read a lot of books on
flowers,” Elspet said.
“You must have.” Fiona looked
at Callum when he cleared his throat.
“Stop talking about silly
flowers. Look at the donkeys. I don’t see any cars and the writing on the
sign looks Greek,” Callum said.
“How in the world do you know
what Greek writing looks like?” Elspet put her hands on her hips.
“We studied it in our class
at school. For the last few weeks we’ve learned about the Greek Isles. We’re
studying one of the islands called Hydra. I think this island is Hydra.”
Callum boasted. “See that sign? It’s written in Greek. I can’t figure out
what it says though.”
“There’s one problem. We
don’t speak Greek. How will we communicate with these people?” Elspet
“This is a tourist place,
Elspet. Most everyone will speak English.” They walked up the beach to the
center of the small town on the bay. “You’re right, Callum. It is Greece. It
looks like a picture postcard. I think the first thing we’d better do is
trade our money in for Greek money. What is Greek money called anyway?”
Fiona looked at Callum for an answer.
“Drachma, but do you think
they’ll give us some? We don’t have passports or any identification,” Callum
“I’ll just pretend I left my
passport with my parents. I’ll say they are out sightseeing and that I need
money to buy lunch. They’ll give it to me.” Fiona felt brave and confident.
“It’s so pretty here, isn’t it? Just like Callum said, there are no cars, no
buses, not even a bicycle, or motorbike. The people must have to walk
everywhere they go.”
“Or ride on donkeys.” Callum
pointed at an elderly man riding on the back of a small gray donkey.
“I think donkeys are smelly.
I don’t want to ride on one.” Elspet plugged her nose as the man and donkey
“There are a lot of churches,
monasteries and stone arches. Maybe we should buy a map so we can find our
way around. There’s a tourist shop. Tourist shops always sell maps,” Fiona
said, “but first, we need to go to the bank. There’s one. You guys stay out
here. I’ll go inside and give them a big sob story. If it doesn’t work, you
two can give it a try.” Fiona disappeared into the bank. She came out a few
minutes later, wiping pretend tears from her eyes. A grin spread across her
face and she waved the drachma back and forth. “That was easy.” She laughed
They stopped in front of the
window of the tourist shop and looked at a map taped up in the window. “It
says Hydra is twenty one square miles and lies southeast of Athens. That’s a
lot of area to cover to look for a small jewel. What are we supposed to be
looking for again?” Callum thought hard, trying to remember.
“Black obsidian. Uncle Angus
said it looks like black glass,” Fiona said. “All I know is that it comes
from a volcano.” They went inside and bought a map of the island. “Let’s sit
over there on that wall and look at the map.” They sat with their legs
dangling over the edge of a stone wall, above the splashing waves spitting
at their feet. A boat full of fishermen chugged into the bay.
“They’ve found real sponges,
not ones like we buy at our shops,” Elspet said, amazed at the sight of the
brownish orange sponges.
“They’ve got more than that.
They’ve got fish too,” Callum said. “I’ve never seen fish that puffed up
with spikes before.”
A ship carrying tourists
docked at a pier further up the beach in a deeper spot. The tank-top-
and-shorts clothed people walked down the gangplank and rushed by, excited
and eager to spend their money in the shops, or have their pictures taken
with donkeys. “Tourists are the same here as they are back in Inveralba.”
Elspet laughed. Callum and Fiona joined in. “They look ridiculous.”
“Isn’t Hydra the name of a
monster with nine snake heads?” The thought just came to Fiona’s mind.
“Yes, Hydra is a monster. You
know your Greek history well, Fiona.” Callum shrugged.
“I know about Hercules. He
was from Greece,” Elspet said, “and he killed the Hydra.”
Callum ignored her. “We’d
better go and look for the stone. We can’t stay here forever, though I’d
like to. I’m hungry. Should we get something to eat first and then begin our
“Good idea,” Fiona said.
“What about the map?”
“We can look at it after we
eat. I’m too hungry. Greek food smells good.” They saw an outdoor café.
Though it was busy, one table sat empty. They flopped down on the chairs.
“Ouch, these are hot.” Elspet rubbed the back of her leg through her pants.
“They’re made of metal,”
Callum said, happy that he was wearing jeans.
A waiter approached them.
“What do you want?” He spoke in broken English.
“Can we have a menu please?”
The man with greasy black hair tossed a menu on the table and disappeared
inside. “How rude!” Callum picked it up and read through the list of
“We’re not in Scotland any
more, Callum. Things are different here, or so I’ve heard,” Elspet said.
“I think we can presume
things will be different in the ‘real world’, as my mother calls it,
including the food. What is all this stuff? I will not eat raw octopus!”
Fiona glanced at the menu.
The waiter came back a few
minutes later. He pulled a pencil from behind his suntanned ears and
scribbled as they gave him their orders.
She noticed his name tag.
“I’ll have a Greek salad. It says here it comes with olives, lettuce,
cucumbers, tomato and feta cheese with an oil and vinegar dressing. Is that
The waiter nodded. “What you
want?” He looked over at Callum.
Fiona interrupted, “I wasn’t
Kristoff scowled and looked
“I’d like some pita with it
Callum scanned the menu while
the waiter tapped his foot impatiently. “I’ll have a souvlaki. I like lamb.
It comes with peppers and onions on a stick. What sort of peppers?” Callum
mumbled on, nervous and afraid of what and how the waiter might answer.
“Green pepper!” The man
snarled. “What do you think?” In a much softer voice he muttered, “Idiot
“At home we have yellow,
orange and red peppers. I was just asking.” Callum frowned, disturbed by the
“I’ll have tzatziki sauce
with a platter of fried zucchini, French fries, and eggplant to dip in it.”
Elspet spoke before the waiter had a chance to insult her. “I’d like a glass
of water too.”
“Me too,” said Fiona. “Is
there an extra charge for water?” She smiled at him.
He shook his head back and
forth and then glared at Callum.
“Me too.” Callum looked away
from the man, who went into the café to place their order.
“I hope all Greek men aren’t
that rude,” Fiona said.
“I don’t think they are. This
guy works at a tourist place. You know how it is when a busload of tourist
goes into The Hogshead Inn. Mr. McGregor isn’t as nice to them as he is to
us,” Elspet said.
While waiting for their
lunch, they looked at the sea.
“Their beaches don’t have
sand, just pebbles. I can’t imagine that’s too comfortable to sunbathe on,”
A few minutes later the
waiter brought out their platters of food. He plopped Fiona’s Greek salad
and a pita bread down in front of her and left.
Her eyeballs bulged when she
saw the size of the olives. She stabbed one with her fork and put it in her
mouth. Her lips puckered. “Greek olives taste different than the ones we get
in cans at the grocers. This is good.”
He came back out carrying the
souvlaki and Elspet’s meal. “Excuse me, sir. Where’s our water?”
Ignoring her, he turned and
went back inside the building. Water sloshed all over Elspet when he slammed
the scratched plastic glasses down on the table. Instead of shouting or
losing her temper, she dipped her fingers in the spilled water and rubbed it
over her face. “Ah! That feels good.”
Callum pulled the spicy,
blackened lamb, onions and green peppers off the wooden skewer. A dish of
white sauce sat next to the meat. He stuck his finger in it for a taste.
“It’s sour.” He stabbed a piece of the lamb and dunked it into the cream.
“Oh boy. This is much better than fish and chips.”
Elspet enjoyed her meal. “I
think your sauce is tzatziki sauce, like I have.” She put a piece of fried
eggplant in her mouth. I love aubergines. We hardly ever get them at our
house. My mum and dad think they’re too expensive.”
After finishing their meal,
Fiona paid the waiter. “I’m not leaving Kristoff a tip. He doesn’t deserve
anything. Let’s take a look at this map.” She pulled it out of the paper bag
the shop owner had given her and spread it out on the table “It’s
complicated looking. Should we try to figure it out, or should we relax
after our meal and go for a donkey ride?”
“Yes,” Callum said.
“No,” Elspet said, adamantly.
The donkey’s owner heard
their note of interest. He pulled the donkey closer. “Come for a ride,
children. The donkey is happier when he gives children rides.”
Elspet refused to go;
however, Callum and Fiona each took a ride and had their picture taken on
“Elspet, you missed out. That
man, Nikolas, told me that the donkey doesn’t work in the rain because the
streets get slippery and the donkey's hooves might slip and hurt itself. He
loves his donkey,” Fiona said. “He’d never do anything to hurt it. You
should have given it a try. Look at the pictures. Will you keep them in your
blouse pocket, Elspet? Mine’s too small.”
Elspet took them from Fiona's
hand and put them away in her pocket. “When are we going to start looking
for the stone, or are we not finished being tourists yet?”