During my trip to Kastellorizon, I have met a very smiling and happy local person on the island, difficult not to notice if you are visiting, Stavros Choulis.
He owns a small fishing boat, thus got the name "Captain". We have visited Kastellorizon along with Michael Pappas, a photographer that we often share the trips to different parts of Greece. Since day 1, we had noticed Stavros, whose kindness and manners appealed to us. He was sitting next to us at a local cafe and when his friends left, he wished to them "E Panaya mazee mas" (Let Virgin Mary guide us) and "E ora e kalee" (all the best). That sounded really nice to us and with his traditional looks and style, we knew we had to meet this guy and learn about his life on the island.
He lives in a two-storeyed home sitting on the harbor, overseeing all of Kastellorizon. Every time we passed by we could hear traditional music playing from inside the home. After a couple of days and while we were saluting each other each time we met by the harbor, in the church or in a tavern, we were passing by his house for yet another time and this time he had his door open. We said hi and asked if we could go inside to have a look and take a few photographs of the house and him. He gladly obliged and in we went!
We talked about the life on the island and how he came to live in this house. He told us about his family. His mother gave birth to 16 children. Many of his siblings live in Athens, Australia, some have passed away and just a few are still on the island.
We couldn't help but notice the greek flags all over the place. We took some pictures of him next to the flags, so when he noticed, he said oh well, these are nothing, I will show you a real flag. He then presented to us with great pride a huge flag with the word Kastellorizo on it and his initials "ΣΧ" (Stavros Choulis). He said when he died, they will wrap this flag around his body.
From outside you could notice the balcony on the first floor, overseeing the port. We asked if we could see the first floor and Stavros was happy to show us around. He said that indeed the first floor is the most beautiful part of the house. The house is old but Stavros is trying to restore it. It is a traditional home of the island but Stavros' financials do not let him carry on with the restoration in a timely manner. At the top sits his bedroom and two more rooms that he doesn't use at the moment.
He finally took us out to see the view from the balcony. Since the balcony is made of wood and is very old, he proposed not to step on it, but just see the view from inside the house.
We then wanted to take a picture of the exterior of his house but there was not a vantage point at a significant distance to do that. Thus, we thought if we were on a boat we could do that. Luckily Stavros owns a small boat and he offered to take us on board to take the picture. We went on and floated to a good point where we could take the picture. The house is the one with the Greek flag on the balcony obviously.
Since we are inside, he said, let's pick up my fishing cages, see if I caught anything! We moved to the location of the first cage and he threw the line inside. The cage had a lot of fish inside and he was very happy about it! The second cage had no fish inside, but no worries, the first one had enough. We were all happy about the catch, maybe the Souma (a traditional spirit made by distilled grapes) had played a part in it, or the sea breeze and the smell of iodine or possibly the lovely sunny day with only a few white, fluffy clouds around. Stavros decided he would take us for a small cruise around the port and to the next port of Mandraki as well as the small island of Psoradia.
On the way back we stopped at Klimis' tavern and tied the boat on the harbor. Stavros bid Klimis good day and he returned the wish. Stavros then said that, if you are saying hi, you should also treat us some beer! Klimis was more than happy and brought us a few bottles of beer along with four glasses, one for him as well.
After drinking all the beer, we took the boat and went back to his house where we said goodbye and took our way.
The next time we visited Stavros was on the day of the Easter. He had his door open and was blowing balloons. He smiled and shouted "Chronia Polla!" - A common Greek wish meaning '(may you live) many years' - and "Christos Anestee" (Christ has resurrected) - An announcement used in Greece for 40 days after Easter as a greeting -
You can also see us two at the reflection of the black balloon :-)
We of course went in and started drinking the Souma! The balloons were destined to go to the children passing by as Easter gifts. He was greeting everyone passing by and asked to come inside to offer some Souma. That was really nice and very hospitable. I think this is how people must interact one with another! Some people would come inside, take a piece of cake and drink a glass of Souma, saying "Ya mas" - to our health, or cheers in Greek -
Stavros mobile phone would endlessly ring all the time, people were calling him from all over the world to give him Easter wishes. We went and got some food from a nearby tavern to eat, as we were starting to get dizzy by the strong spirit. Michael also did some post processing of his images at a table at the back and Stavros kept us entertained by playing music through a small usb stick player, hanging from a hanger.
We even left him a hearty message in his notebook and gave him two signed photographs that we took.
After that, well, I just switched off and found myself sleeping in my bed!