When the Wrong Sail is the Right Sail
Call it fate, karma, or kismet. Call it whatever you like, but some encounters, and the sails that turn up with them, are meant to be. From our October 2012 issue.
We were interrupted at that point by Nadire, a Turkish cruising friend with whom we’d recently sailed the Black Sea. “Wild Card!” she was yelling while she jogged excitedly down the dock. “Wait! I have that name I was telling you about!”
Frankly, the last thing I needed was the name of yet another old friend to look up. We were drowning in ’em. We’ve learned simply to listen with politeness, then ignore all such suggestions.
|Cruising friends Selim and Nadire introduced the Goodlanders to Turkey and gave them ideas and contacts for their trip to the islands of Greece, the country next door.|
But we were both in love with Nadire. She was the only Turkish woman we’d ever met who sported the briefest of bikinis and a pierced belly button, in addition to a bright, friendly smile. Her muscles were totally ripped. She’d just swum the Bosphorus from Europe to Asia—and was a long-distance runner as well. To balance out the physical, she just happened to be a pediatric orthopedic physician and the author of numerous books on the subject of children’s bone disorders. Yes, you meet a lot of strange and delightful people while slithering amid the backwaters of ancient Constantinople—Nadire and her husband Selim, a professor and surgeon, were just two among many.
I looked around the boat—we really were about to cast off—and smiled resignedly. Yet another interruption! But the key to the cruising life is switching gears and being in the moment. So I sighed, shut off our warming diesel, and graciously asked Nadire if she’d like a cup of tea.
“If a Turkish person is awake, they want a cup of tea,” she said in happy reply.
As Carolyn rattled her kettle in the galley, I asked Nadire, “And what’s so special about this Greek guy in, um, Milktoast?”
“Mílos,” Nadire corrected me. “As in the famous statue of Venus in the Louvre. You’ve seen it?”
“Yes,” I said. “Classic pornography at its best. Alas, the poor dear lost her arms in some sort of a tug-of-war between early antiquity buyers as she was being smuggled out of Greece by a Frenchman.”
Nadire dismissed me with a wave of her petite arm. “In Mílos lives a sailor by the name of Pana. ” Then she strung together about 20 incomprehensible vowel sounds.
Yes, Greek is “all Greek” to me. I can’t fathom any of the strange-sounding names of the people or the destinations—and have thus taken to just sticking on the first pseudo-sounding label that comes to mind.
“And what’s this fellow Papa Gosh’s claim to fame?” I asked.
Nadire’s English is very good, but she looked perplexed. “He is just—himself, Fatty,” she said. “But he isn’t a mere man. He’s a force of nature. He’s a human being, yeah, but he’s also an adventure, a story. He is, how you say—a character? They call him the King of Ouzo—but he’s more than that. He embodies all of Greece. Totally. If you only visit one place in Greece, and you only meet one man—it has to be here, and it has to be him.”