Cats in KamaresAh, another hard day in Sifnos.

We rose with the rooster at 7am. What to do today? First, breakfast with Spiros! Down to town we went. I was saddened when Spiros told me there was no baklava, but tried another recommended treat called ekmek kataifi, a baklava-type sauce over stringy dough-like noodles. It wasn’t as good as baklava, but damned tasty just the same.

Over breakfast, Sean and I decided that our rocks probably missed us and we should visit them again. We also decided to stop and look for snorkel gear at one of the local grocers.

The first grocery was across the street from “our” breakfast place, so that seemed an easy candidate. The establishment was about the size of our living room at home and packed to the gills with stuff. It seemed as though a Wallmart-sized establishment somewhere far away had exploded, volcano-like, and all of the merchandise had traveled in a cloud to land in a heap – a merchandise cone, if you will – that the townspeople then attempted to enclose with walls.

Bug spray stood next to panties, which stood next to car oil. It was simply the most random store I’ve ever seen in my life. Shelving units ran from floor to ceiling and every one overflowed. I have utterly no idea how one even saw, much less got to, items near the top. As I tried to force my way down an aisle, a young man hustled in with a crate of items. He looked around for a second and then upended the thing into the corner, kicking a few rolling bits out of the way as he left. We felt rather sure that we’d find snorkel-gear eventually, but weren’t sure if we’d have any vacation time left after doing so, so we opted to try the other store in town.

Kamares SupermarketI must admit that snorkel gear wasn’t the only thing on my shopping list. Although I don’t feel I’m excessively vain, I’d grown weary of letting my hair air-dry into a frizzy, knotted mass, so I was also looking for a hair dryer, which I hadn’t seen in the other store (though it was probably there somewhere). So, off we went to the other grocery, which had a few less items but the same sort of anti-arrangement. We managed to find cheap snorkel sets and took them to the young proprietor, who was snoozing in the sun at the storefront. I asked him if he had a blow-dryer.

“Blue… dryer?” He repeated, looking incredibly confused.

Helpfully, I held my cocked fingers up to my temple in a suicide gesture and made the universal noise for blow dryers: “Vweeeeee!”

“Oh! Like pistol! Bang-bang! Vweee!” He laughed, mussing up his moppish mass of hair with his gun fingers.

“Neh! Perfect! Where?”

“Don’t have!”


He rung up our snorkel gear, still laughing and “vweeeing” from time to time. I couldn’t help but giggle at my own stupid vanity and made a decision to live without the vweee.

Another perfect day in the ocean followed. With our cheap snorkel gear, we discovered that the bay didn’t have a whole heck of a lot of sealife. Likely, this was due to the fact that there wasn’t a lot of vegetation, quite unlike the underwater gardens we’d seen in the Caribbean. But, we did see lots and lots of spikey urchins and about 15 or so species of colorful and friendly fish.

Stephanie at Our Swimming HoleAs the afternoon turned into evening, we drug ourselves from the water and trekked back to Alkyonis, accompanied by goat bells as the herds descended from the mountains above us.

That night, it was back to Boulis at a slightly later hour, so we actually arrived as the dinner hour started, not before. The same group of older women sat down right after us and I hoped for another dancing demonstration later. Two kittens from the night before took up spots at our feet as we ordered the house red and our appetizers – revithia keftedes (fried chick-pea balls), yigendes and greek salad. I ordered kota psiti (herbed chicken with roasted potatoes) mostly for myself, but I thought the kittens would also enjoy that a great deal and was right! Sean had a selection of meats from the huge outdoor grill. Both were fantastic.

Right on cue, as we ate the last bites of our dinner, the older women stood. I turned in my chair to watch as Sean ordered another litre of house wine and settled in contentedly. The owner ran out with the small CD player and the women commenced dancing.

I spent years studying Anthropology, so I find this sort of stuff absolutely fascinating. I watched and mentally noted all of the social aspects of the dance. One woman would lead the line. In one hand, she held a lace kerchief high in the air, while she clasped her other hand tightly with the second dancer. As I watched, it became clear that the leader was putting steps together, which the others were expected to follow. So, it wasn’t just a dance, it was a game! The songs seemed to be traditional folk songs, but instrumental only. The women added the vocals as they danced. After a time, some sort of group consensus took place and the lead woman was ousted and replaced by the second in command. I noticed the second woman’s dance steps seemed harder, as if she was trying to outdo the first woman. After a bit, two of the older women broke away and began pulling women out of the crowd of diners.

See, this is the thing. I am a born observer of humans. I love to watch human rituals. However, I don’t always like to participate. So, I tried to lay low. That didn’t work. One of the women spotted me and, to Sean’s great delight, grabbed onto me and wouldn’t take no for an answer. She led me towards the dance and I looked back at Sean and shrugged my shoulders in a “oh well, what the hell!” gesture. He laughed and laughed.

I ended up about 4th in line, between one of the older women and a young, delicate Parisian in a flowing skirt. The music began. The dance-game turned out to be exactly what I’d thought – a follow-the-leader type of gig – so I did my best to follow the steps, which didn’t go so horribly. My Parisian friend took a more celestial approach, which caused my left arm to be ripped from its socket from time to time as she tried to interject spinning into the already complicated steps.

As the third song began, I started to really, really enjoy myself. I got into the steps and began listening to the wonderful music. One funny thing, I was about 5 inches taller than any of the other dancers, so every time the line veered too close to the dance area’s perimeter, my head became entangled in the low-hanging vines covering the veranda’s roof. This caused the older women no end of delight and they began yelling out “giraffe!” every time I became entangled. At least, I think that is what they were saying.

At long last, Sean caught my eye and pantomimed a yawn. It was time to go. The older women grabbed my hands and tried to hold me out on the dance floor but I managed to make it through “thank you but nono! Need to go! Tired!” in Greek. They hugged me and said good night.

Sean and I walked home, hand in hand, with huge smiles on our faces. Unforgettable.