Did you ever go exploring as a child? Did you find the fairytale castle perched at the uppermost fringe of the forests or the secret underground tunnel to China behind the vegetable patch?
Did you continue to look as you grew up?
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The sun was beating down at a cool 45°C and we had veered off the beaten track to see what hidden treasures Pefkos had to offer. Either side of us were beautiful white washed villas with lemon trees growing in clusters around the properties. A shaggy, sweltering puppy lay panting in the shade the sparse vegetation provided, raising its small head in curiosity as we passed. A cactus sprawled lazily into the middle of the dusty road, young couples’ initials carved into the skin as a sign of eternal love. We had to duck to avoid the grape vines dangling over a wall; fat and juicy bunches of the fruit bounced tantalisingly over our heads.
The sheer beauty of these simple everyday structures amazed me – such vibrant life in such a desolate country. England, in that moment, felt impossibly green. And why be green when you can be purples and oranges and pinks and blues…?
A sharp decline led us towards a group of elderly men looking incredibly proud over their collection of mopeds. They guffawed and slapped their swollen tanned bellies, sunglasses perched fashionably on their balding heads. What with us being ‘outsiders’ we received a few curious looks and more than a few grins. ‘You won’t believe what’s around the next corner’ they seemed to be saying.
Lo and behold, we had found the gateway to paradise.
A tiny little bay stretched out before us, with a smudge of warm golden sands and a glittering jewel encrusted mirror of an ocean. Invitingly intricate maps of rock pools were scattered to our left and yachts bobbed just offshore to our right. And best of all? It was practically deserted.
But Pefkos was not done with us yet and we soon found ourselves at the bottom of a dirt track and boarding a boat about to embark on a three bay cruise.
We were living the dream, skipping along the crystalline waves and skirting the idyllic shores of Rhodes. We saw the acropolis of Lindos squatting proudly at the top of a hill and ventured into a tiny bay where a joyous wedding was taking place in a simple white chapel. We motored through a narrow gap in a cliff and swam offshore from the most luxurious hotel on the island (a private pool for each room, if you please dahhling). We glimpsed lazy fish and agile goats hopping up mountains. We dangled our feet from the side of the boat as we swept around corners, the sea kissing our toes and bringing smiles to our faces.
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That day I felt like the child who strained her eyes to see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…but found something better waiting there for her.