I have a natural ability to attract strange people. Everywhere. I also have a hard time following group tours because I tend to think going off on my own is more fun and lends itself to better adventures. Now that you know this, you will understand how the following occurred during my brief 3 hour visit to the island of Delos.
A Greek acquaintance, Nikos, invited me to join him on a free excursion to Delos island the last day before it closed for the season. The catch – the tour is only a half day and will be given in Greek. “Kanena provlima,” I said, “no problem, you can be my private translator!” Insert Nikos’ nervous grin. Muahahaha. The only instructions were to be at the port at 7:30 am tomorrow.
Me slamming the car door in the parking lot near the windmills and sprinting from through the narrow streets of town yelling “waittttttttttttttt for meeeeeeeeee!!!” So dramatic, it would definitely have been slow mo in a movie.
Nikos smiles approvingly, and hands me my ticket to get on board.
Celebrating being on board and happily eating my banana and nutella breakfast sandwich. Random stranger: “Wow, you are very brave to eat breakfast on board. This boat can ROCK!” Oh shit.
Let the hunger games begin! Just kidding, the tour started.
Nikos and I lollygagging at the back of the tour group so we can pretend I’m Greek while he whispers broken English translations in my ear. Smile and nod. Walk. Smile and nod. Photo. Smile and nod.
This continued for the first two hours on this ancient, mystical island. We saw some of the major sites, heard ancient history and took a ton of photos. Right around when we were walking through the upper level of the island, my inner adventure goddess was kicking and screaming to escape and run away from the tour. I smiled and politely told Nikos I wanted to explore. His response was an all-knowing smile and instructions to be back on the boat in an hour. I nodded, and then ran off the second the tour guide turned her back.
Once free, my mission was to find the Naxian Lions, Cleopatra’s Temple and and Hermes’ Temple. It was around noon when I wandered into Cleopatra’s Temple. The sun was shining beautifully in the sky. I had already stripped off about 3 layers during my escape (fyi this was in October, but still warm). I took photos of the temples, attempt a selfie photo shoot sans stick, and then meditated. I figured if any a time to connect and worship the sun (god) and ask Cleopatra for ancient wisdom, now would be it. Eventually, two British men walked into the area disturbing my peace, but I scared the shit out of them when I jumped up from behind the column to say hello.
Next, I made a left and then a right down a path I hadn’t seen before when all of a sudden a random young man with dreadlocks and cargo pants (#throwback) popped up around the other side of the wall. Alas, the Hippie Tomb Raider! We said hello to each other and then began a friendly exchange.
Hippie Tomb Raider (HTR): Have you seen the ancient theater?
Me: Yes, it was amazing. I didn’t get to go to the top though. A nice aerial shot would have been sweet.
HTR: Nice, nice. Did you see the secret olive branch marking on the stone podium? It’s super symbolic.
Me: Ummm…. no. Must have missed that.
HTR: You HAVE to see it. Follow me.
Of course I followed him. In my defense, he did have an ‘official’ name tag. He then showed me the olive branch marking, and started to reiterate the history and other fun facts about the theater, until I politely interrupted and said I learned this info on the tour.I wanted the real dirt, literally and metaphorically speaking.
Me: So…. can you show me how to get to the top?
HTR: Yea, yea of course.
We walked up the edge of the theater, climbing over the ancient stone seats and some other unidentified objects until we finally made it. I took some photos and asked him how he got to be a ‘tour guide’ on Delos…
HTR: I’m originally from Athens, but then I moved to Mykonos when I got a DJ gig. It was all fun and parties as I’m sure you know. But then when I visited Delos for the first time I realized I had it all wrong. Why should I play music on Mykonos when I can listen to the real music of nature on Delos?
Me: Yea, I totally understand how that happens.
Damn I am way too sober for this convo.
HTR: Have you seen Hermes temple?
Me: Unfortunately, no. We passed it from a far on the tour.
HTR: What time does the boat leave?
Me: Oh crap. It leaves in 20 minutes.
HTR: Hmmm.. it’s okay. I know a short cut! Good, you’re wearing sneakers.
I then proceed to follow HTB as he runs down a hill from the side of the theater, with no path whatsoever, trying to not get tangled by ancient weeds and stones. Eventually we make it down the hill and almost slide down a smaller hill where the Temple of Hermes stands. We walked around the top of the temple and pause for a moment to look down and imagine the people who built this. HTR casually mentioned that last summer he slept in Hermes’ temple because he prefers the fresh air and energy of the island to his bed and that two summers ago he slept in Aphrodite’s Temple for a week until one morning two French archaeologists woke him up and seemed to be very alarmed. Go figure. HTR guided me down the steps into the first floor where he lifted the rope at the entrance and motioned for me to follow (VIP access what up!). I was told to pick up a stone and throw it into the well in the centermost point of the temple and make a wish.
After I made my wish, we stood in silence for a few minutes soaking up the sunshine beaming down from the top of the temple where the roof used to be. The boat whistle interrupted our silence and he motioned to another ‘shortcut’ to get closer to the port area. About halfway down, he stops and says “this is as far as I go.”
I thanked him for his time and wisdom, we parted ways and then I ran like hell to the boat.
Nikos: Did you enjoy your time in Delos?
Me: Yes, it was awesome! [I gave him the cliff notes of my encounter]
Nikos: I think you did some kind of hippie voodoo shit, but I stayed in Hermes Temple for 3 nights with two girls I met and we meditated and did yoga. It was beautiful and very peaceful. Next summer we can get the rest of the crew and rent a private boat. We’ll return at night when the guards are off duty and stay over in one of the temples.
To (hopefully) be continued as Hippie Tomb Raider Vibes Part II…