Maria was not going to let me walk to the airport.
“It’s one maybe two hours. It’s nice to walk”
“No.” She paused and looked slightly from left to right. Not like that shifty guilt thing, and not like she was searching for words either. No, she looked left to right between utterances just to take in the world. Then, having enjoyed the moment: “I will drive you”.
And she did. I like to be early (who knows what might go wrong?) and suggested a departure leaving me about one and a half hours at the airport. She agreed, but knew this was insane. There are two people who run the Milos airport. And there is only ever one plane at a time. If you are there and the airplane door is open, you are going to make your flight.
So she took me for one last tour of the lovely beaches. She traced her jogging route down to another absurd Popeye port town with 8 structures, 6 of which had garages (for boats) at the waterline. The other 2 were churches.
And then finally on to the airport. Goodbyes. And I got to practice my two cheek kiss goodbye. This is hard for me, but I learned the night before that trying to replace the cheek kiss with a handshake is worse.
“If the plane has problems call me and I will come back for you.”
And she was off in her little red car with the roof rack. With my iPhone. Because it had dropped from my pocket into the space between the door and the seat at some point. I found out pretty quick but I’m no sprinter and she faded out of view.
Milos airport hasn’t any wifi, and the two people who work there are pretty over helping tourists. I explained that if I couldn’t find internet, find her number, and get my phone back, that I would stay on Milos. This motivated them, but without a number they really couldn’t really help me.
A modern clean cut guy was talking to the rental car person (ok there are three people working at the airport) and I got a good feeling, so I asked if he spoke English and then if he could share his phone data with my laptop over WiFi. For nerds, this is a bit like going to second base on the first date. No problem! I found Maria’s number and then the Milos airport people let me call. But she didn’t pick up.
My nerd date, Marko, wondered how it was going. And then offered to give me a ride into town. He was going that way…
“I should stay. She’s been very responsive and it could get confusing if I go that way and she is… “ And then I thought about how she had the only Ford Fiesta on the island. “…ah but of course she will be coming this way”
Marko insisted. And so we were off, back to town some 20 minutes distant, with my plane leaving in 45 minutes. I checked out every little red car we passed for a Ford logo. But we made it all the way to Maria’s place.
“Well thanks for your help. You’re my hero. But if she’s not here I’ll miss my flight and if she is… she can drive me.” I knew I wouldn’t make my flight and so I encouraged him to get back to his pressing business.
“I will wait, you check.” Marko wasn’t going to be shooed off that easily.
I assumed Maria would be elsewhere. But her car was in the driveway. I opened the passenger side door (unlocked of course) and there it was. I ran back to Marko’s waiting car. And he got me to the airport 10 minutes before my plane was to leave. I left some cash as I began to exit the car but Marko wouldn’t take it.
On the return drive Maria had called Marko, and he explained about me grabbing the phone from her car. The lady checking my boarding pass was the same modestly helpful one from earlier. She recognized me (of course) and said:
“Maria called. She doesn’t have your phone”
“Thanks. I’ve got it”
Maria emailed to explain that she was charging her phone (the power had been out all morning) and she hoped that the driver (Marko) hadn’t charged me money (gasp!). She needn’t have worried.
The turbo prop plane zoomed up and soon all of Milos was visible from my window. In 35 minutes we were on the ground in Athens. The early Cycladic people, the Minoans, the Mycenaeans, the Greeks, the Romans, the Turks, they would all have been jealous.