In Which Simon Gets His Cave Fix.
First things first:
Pit pat pit pat pit pat……..squeeeeeeeeeeaaaakk….”Good moooooorning Beautiful!! Your coffeeeeeeee!
Lulu. My Lulu. She came! She came with the coffee, and the sun shone. All. Day. Long. Yes.
After a soaker yesterday, we all needed a good baking and that’s precisely what we got today. The good old Greek sunshine. And that was just a part of the amazing things this day had to offer.
We moved early out of Sivota harbour and made for Meganisi Island, specifically, its long tail that extends to the south east. There we saw it - Simon, like a pointer, had a nose for it - Papanikolis Cave. It looked big. It was hard to tell just how big.
It was too deep to anchor right in front of it, so we rounded a corner into a perfect little one boat bay formed by two spectacular cliff faces, where we found….another cave!! Cave day. It’s cave day!
Getting underweigh with sunny skies and calm seas, Simon “points” to our cave destination. He swims the stern line and our water spelunking begins.
Simon swam the stern line to a big rock, which, when he stood beside it, we realized was a HUGE rock. My depth perception was so off before Simon as a sense of scale. We suited up and plunged in. I couldn’t stop exclaiming. It was simply spectacular. The light, the sound, the size, the rocks, the scene underwater, the scene above. As we approached the rocky beach at the back of the shallow cave, the gentle waves rolled the pebbles against one another and the sound reverberated and it was holy. I was gobsmacked. Actually. I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
Underwater, big smooth boulders gave way to white sand, rippled in long lines, surrounded by tufted grasses. Then more amphitheater benches, schools of tiny chromis swimming up and down along the rows searching for their seats. We swam along the cliffs to the main attraction - though I was already cave drunk on the one by our parking spot. When we arrived at Papanikolis, we were flummoxed as we thought we had seen a boat go into the cave, but we didn’t hear anything in there, and we’d never seen it come out. Imagine our surprise when we entered the cave, turned a slight corner and THERE was the boat, beached, so deep in the cave you couldn’t even see it from the outside. The boat was a cave day cruise thing - it had at least 40 tourists on board. THAT’S how big this cave is. Stun. Ning. The tourists climbed into the water in groups of 10 or so for maybe 5 minutes each group. We smugly swam around the cave, free diving down into the blue water, illuminated by the sunlight coming in, blue grotto style. The boat started to back up finally and the sound was incredible. Kudos to the skipper who maneuvered that tub out of there with a three point turn, somehow avoiding the enormous rock just barely beneath the surface right in the middle of it. They left and we had it to ourselves. Just the handful of us, ottering around in there, dwarfed and humbled by it all.
Reluctantly we swam back and climbed aboard. Simon had the great idea to dingy Kerry back to the cave - she’s been nursing a cold and wasn’t up to the swim, but we didn’t want her to miss it. She said yes and we ferried her over. She was thrilled.
Back on the boat and on to our next anchorage, also on Meganisi island, a small arm of Abelake Bay. Stern line to shore again like our neighbors on both sides. I’m sure the bay looks like a kiddie pool to the Gods above, these little strings tethering toy boats to its turquoise edges.
The sun was so bright, the water so calm. I knew it was the perfect time to do underwater photo sessions with our swimmers. I love to do these portraits at the end of each trip. Everyone is relaxed and more confident in the water, feeling fit and strong. I took a turn with each of them before our afternoon swim.
For our swim, we followed the shoreline, ducking under stern line just like we do at Little Harbour in the BVI. The water here is gin clear - i was atop the stand up paddle board and could easily see to the bottom of 30 feet. Along shore are new walls of white stone blending into the remains of old walls of white stone. Olive trees, natural jetties, texture, color. You can almost see the age of these shores, feel the wisdom in the stones. I wonder who’s gone before us here. The hundreds of whos, the thousands.
As we turned a corner, I noticed stunning, low slung villas of white, gossamer curtains billowing, up on the hill. The path from them led to a tiny private beach with thatched umbrellas - it’s the beach in your dreams.
My charges were ready to turn around there, and Kerry, feeling better and swimming again, decided to take a turn on the SUP - her first time ever. I wondered if it was wise a half mile from the boat, but I helped her on, gave her a few pointers and off she went. She left me in the turquoise proverbial dust and I had to sprint to catch up with her and the other swimmers.
We all got back to Lulu and Richie making cocktails and canapés and the sun made us all so buoyant - it was a perfect evening. Dinner was fantastic as usual, pork chops smothered in some kind of rub and grilled veggies smothered in some kind of cheese. The capper was a fantastic custard dessert which Lulu made without measuring spoons or anything else a chef in a proper kitchen would make use of. She’s amazing. Richie is amazing. They have cared for and spoiled us all week and we are better for it.
It’s actually hot tonight - a change from the mild nights we’ve been having. I’m contemplating a quick dip, au naturelle of course, after the last of my shipmates has gone to bed. Only two left. So I’ll finish this post, jump in beneath the stars, and connect with my inner sea nymph. My spirit was fed by this place, this sea today, and I’m reluctant to call it a night.