(This is Friday’s post early – family arrive tomorrow.)
One morning in Ithaca I suddenly found I was losing my balance. Clutching the sink where I was washing up I realised the dishes and the floor beneath me were all gently shaking. It turned out to be an earth tremor which measured 5.5 on the Richter scale. This was in the nineties; in 1953 the earthquake measured 7.8 and three quarters of the buildings were destroyed but only one person killed.
‘All the water was sucked out of the harbour and then a great wave came and we thought we would be drowned. I was a child and I did not mind when the ground shook- but when it jumped up and down…’ words failed Yianni; Ithaca’s most famous taxi-driver.
He took us on many exciting expeditions and although I had found Homer dull at school here the myth and legend became real. He had had many illustrious passengers in his Mercedes including Winston Churchill and Aristotle Onassis. He told me how two years earlier he had driven two British archaeologists, Sir John Cook and Miss Helen Benton who had returned to the scene of their fantastic discoveries after a gap of 56 years. He was in his eighties, she in her nineties.
‘Everywhere I took them’ said Yianni ‘they wept!’
Seventeen years later I understand how they felt.