Most of my time in Ikaria was spent in a tiny, one room house in the most remote part of the island called Faros. At that time there were few homes along that stretch of beach and landscape. No electricity meant when the sun went down you navigated with a flash light. No running water, no refrigeration. Food was always fresh from the ocean or whatever greens could be harvested. A boat arrived every morning to the small pier with items you could purchase. I would call this a grocery boat on water. Food was limited on the boat, so you only bought what you needed for the day and also because there wasn’t anything to preserve your food. I remember that the house had a cage of sorts hanging from the ceiling where my yiayia would put perishables to keep the critters away from our food. Inside this tiny home was a full size bed, a twin bed, a table with two chairs and a two burner propane stove top. I forgot to mention the one window. The house was literally on the beach and we did have an outhouse and a well with a pump was right outside the front door which did make it nice for fresh water. Now that I have set the scene of my tiny shack on the beach I will introduce you to the other unwelcome guests.
We were about a month into my trip when my yiayia announced that cousins of mine had arrived from New York. Yes, more cousins. Most of the island is related in some way but I have cousins here from New York?! I have never met them. I was excited to meet kids my age who spoke English. Even though I had become fluent at this point, I would have so much in common and I could ask what was happening back in the states. New friends and new adventures! We met shortly after they arrived to that part of the island and we became fast friends. One day they came over in the early morning and as usual we would begin another adventure. I have to tell you that my yiayia let me roam the island and explore without her following. She knew it was a safe haven and I was on a great adventure. So once the girls arrived she announced she was heading somewhere for the day. Let’s remember I was ten. I guess if I can fly to Athens, Greece alone, she can leave for an afternoon and I will be just fine. Insert laughter here. First order of business, let’s walk to the water and sit and talk. We planned our day and decided to explore the beach first thing. We walked for quite a bit and when we got back to the “shack” we decided on swimming for the rest of the day. Honestly, I make it sound like we had so many other options when in reality, it’s what we did everyday. The girls had their bathing suits on but I did not. I brought them inside so I could do a quick change. I need you to focus and remember that this home is tiny. It’s critical as I lead into the moment. Lol.
The girls were just standing between the door and the table as I searched my large suitcase for my bathing suit. It was not there. I remembered I left it in my small travel bag as we had just returned from a short trip to Agios Kyrikos. I reached into the travel bag and O.M.G.!!!!!! A mouse!!! Not just a mouse…but a mommy mouse and her BRAND NEW BABIES! All snuggled in my bag! You have never heard three young girls scream louder than we did and there was jumping. A lot of jumping as we threw ourselves onto the beds while still screaming. That mommy mouse had proceeded to shred all my clothes in that bag to make a nice, soft and cozy bed for her babies. My yiayia was no where to be found. At some point we ran outside screaming and I did not enter the house again until she returned. Tragically, all my underwear was in that bag. Ruined. We would have to take a trip back to Agios Kyrikos the next day to find me new underwear. European underwear for young girls was horrific back then. No elastic in the bloomers. It was awful and I still laugh to this day of that memory. I am certain they remember it too. I never asked how she got the mice out of my bag and if she did tell me, I have blocked that from my memory, All I know is that I never saw them again.