I spent nine idyllic days on Mykonos making friends with the natives. I spent most of those nine days on the boats sailing from beach to beach, smelling suntan lotion and souvlaki, watching bikini-clad and completely bare hedonists find their spot on the sand. Day after day, I was a treasured guest on ancient boats that had been handed down from one male member of the family to the next. My hands and feet drifted along in the cold ocean rhythm. I found peace in the long hot hours in the sun, zoning out amidst the many mingled foreign voices I couldn?t understand and didn?t need to comprehend.As unwound as I?d ever been, I began to develop something for Georgos, one of the captains. In his early forties, with a macho gruffness, he was like the king of the island. His face was weathered, his teeth not all present

under a thick long moustache, but his entire body was like a moving sculpture of milk chocolate. Every day I?d quietly watch him entertain his passengers: standing on one hand, dancing around the boat, pulling all sizes and shapes of people onto his lap, nonchalantly steering the boat with his bare foot on the tiller. After just a few days, I too could be found only on this aging Adonis of a man?s stern.By the end of the trip, when he cooked octopus and crab and kept filling my glass with ouzo, I slipped into bed with him. Like the sea urchins he caught and shucked for lunch one day, he was prickly on the outside, but raw and vulnerable when alone in his home. The next morning it seemed as if the whole island knew that Georgos had found his woman. He asked me to stay, but I left the island two days later, pushing myself forward into uncertainty.

Sailing by Lisa Guest will appear in Rite Of Passage: Tales of Backpacking ?Round Europe to be published in March 2003 by Lonely Planet Publications.

Rite of Passage: Backpacking ‘Round Europe

Edited by Lisa Johnson

ISBN 1 74059 593 9

Available March 2003

256 pp


This eclectic, contemporary anthology drawn from literary magazines, websites and backpacking newsgroups records the trails and tribulations of young people heading to Europe for the trip of a lifetime. From the company that helped start the trend, this is a funny, touching and sometimes mad collection of first-hand experiences that bring new life to a well-told tale.

Available at all good bookstores.