Little surprises

When I fly back to REYKJA after three weeks in Switzerland, life has changed. Not necessarily for the better – but it could have been much worse.

First, the cab driver at Athens airport charges 20 euros more than his colleague three weeks ago. «Registered price» he says in a firm voice. I don’t believe him and make an effort to get out. We come to an agreement surprisingly quickly where no one loses face.

The original as copy

The first clouds of fire appear on the expressway to Lavrio. The cab driver balances the cell phone on his knee and lets the wife and the swaying car share in the horror. Then he breaks the proud silence of two offended men and we suffer together from heat, drought and the insufficient relief measures of the government.

What follows is the news clip from last night. Only: The original is a copy. Everything I have already seen in the global media age: How fire-fighting helicopters fly to the sea with large bags, fill them there in a mysterious way, and back in the cloud inferno distribute drops on hot trees. The closer Lavrio gets, the bigger the clouds become. I wonder if I should feel threatened?

Vintage car against the fall

Further considerations become secondary. Because the cab driver, by now in full service mode, crosses the gatekeeper’s lodge and the barrier to the port area to drop me off directly in front of the ship. I had to have Reykja craned ashore because charter fleets occupy every space for sailing ships in Lavrio. At first I see only an oldtimer tractor together with loading trailer, from both belts lead to the deck – and oh shock: REYKJA hangs with sloping mast in hull mounts, which have multiplied from two at my departure to newly five.

I look at my ship in disbelief and check whether it has fallen over completely. But nothing seems dented, the mast is still on. Then I consider whether it can be stepped on at all, or whether it will then tip over (info: it’s holding, but I almost feel sick). And finally, whether it was reckless of me to think that the dockers knew what they were doing? Their crane I had in memory as a hot candidate for oldtimer museums in Central Europe. But then I reassured myself with the cliché of Greek improvisation talent. Only that here regularly gale-force winds blow, Meltemi with gusts up to 9 Beaufort, that should not be new to them.

Instead of apologizing, the crane operator demands an additional 50 euros when craning in. His reason: Your ship is not normal. Too heavy, with two masts, too complicated. «Not a normal vessel.» Flattered, because who wants a normal ship, I give him what he wants and thank him for his additional night’s work in the storm, complete with tractor and trailer.

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