As it was so early and the previous guests had only just checked out we had to wait a short while for the room to be prepared but it didn’t take very long and soon we were shown to our ground floor apartment. It was a very reasonably priced room and I soon understood why – we hadn’t paid the optional extra for a mattress on the bed and instead there was what felt like a slab of concrete where something soft should have been! Actually, I am being unfair, it was very nice, no air conditioning but a ceiling fan instead with huge rotor blades that shook alarmingly and looked as though they had been salvaged from an army surplus Chinook helicopter.
At this early hour Koufonisia was desperately quiet, the mini-markets weren’t yet open so we had to go a bakery for a cup of tea and as we watched the inactivity and began to understand why everyone seemed to be in a rush to leave this morning and we began to wonder if we should have bypassed the island after all and continued straight on to Ios. After breakfast we walked around the village but took care to do it slowly in case we exhausted everything there was to see and do too quickly. We followed the coastal road past a derelict windmill and alongside the fishing harbour and on the way back to the Maria Vekri found the ferry booking office where there was still no news of the Skopelitis.
On the terrace of the room by late morning there were pizza oven temperatures and you could fry an egg on the patio table but there was also a battering ram wind that rattled through the garden and rearranged the furniture as it passed through and after deciding to spend the morning there I went to the shop for supplies. Just as in Katapola the storekeepers pulled the short change trick but I was ready for it now. The bill came to €8.55 and I handed over a €10 note and it was obvious that there should have been a rattle of loose change in the palm of my hand but all that was given back was a solitary 50c coin which looked lonely sitting there all by itself. When I pointed this out there was no apology offered just a barely discernable little smile at the corners of the mouth which seemed to say ‘ok, you caught me this time, but I’ll get you later – come back and see me again when you have drunk those four cans of Mythos’.
After a couple of hours it was time to explore again so we backed our bags and made for the village beach and next to a crescent ribbon of caramel sand went for a swim to cool down in a translucent turquoise sea, quite different to the blue of Amorgos. Not being that fond of beaches we didn’t stay long but left and walked along the coast and had lunch at a seafood restaurant before returning to the room.
To be honest, Koufonisia had been a bit of a shock earlier but seven o’clock in the morning is not the best time to make an assessment and we have learned not to make hasty judgements and by mid afternoon we were beginning to understand the appeal of the place. Of all the islands that we have visited it reminded me most of Kimolos, a small island next to Milos and bypassed by the modern world. Laid back, almost to the horizontal, this was clearly a place that was good for getting away from it all and for walking and swimming and laying on the beach and although we are not especially passionate about any of these activities we knew that we would be doing all of these over the next couple of days.
This was a place to relax, tranquil and slow, perfect for recovering from a nervous breakdown or contemplating the meaning of life and other serious matters; why women are hopeless at supermarket check-outs, how did the Trojans fall for that Wooden Horse Trick and just how did Nick Clegg become Deputy Prime Minister? Here, I thought, I might find the answer to something that has always troubled me – how can I be sure that the little light in the fridge has gone off when I shut the door? There was certainly time to give it full consideration without distraction.
In the evening we walked to the fishing harbour for the inevitable sunset pictures and after it turned dark we selected a taverna with brightly coloured tables and chairs and enjoyed a good meal, while, unbeknown to us at this time, the island’s mosquitoes nibbled away at the flesh in between the sandal straps on our bare feet and gorged themselves on the contents of our veins in exactly the same way that we enjoyed our evening meal.