Ssssssnake … the story behind a happy holiday memory! by Idsert Joukes

Published on 22 March 2004 in Discovery, Happiness, Moment (Please wait)

I have travelled widely since graduating in 1992. Australia, Cambodia, India, Namibia, Philipines, United States of America, are just a few of the countries I’ve visited – and no, I don’t work in in the airline industry.

What hails from far away, we say in Dutch, is nicer. And so I thought too, until I ‘discovered’ the Greek isles of the Cyclades in 2002, a mere three hours flying from home. I am smitten with the area, and always look forward to returning and spending some time overthere…

Every island, whether large or small, is special and has unique features that sets it apart from it’s neighbours. This also goes for Milos, the biggest island in the Cyclades, and, incidentally, the location where the French unearthed the Venus of Milo – loosing the statue’s arms whilst transporting it to the Louvre (or so it is said.)

Milosians are a proud people who haven’t sold out to tourism, primarily because the extraction of rare volcanic minerals has sustained the island’s economy in such a way that people haven’t had to leave for Athens on the mainland or places even farther away in search of a living. And they really do have the right to be proud! Crystal clear water surrounds the horseshoe-shaped island and wherever you go wonderful and very colourful rock formations can be seen. The island’s flora and fauna is unique and even boasts a venomous snake: the vipera lebetina. In plain English: levantine or blunt-nosed viper.

Whilst strolling on one of Milos’s beautiful beaches, I noticed this small piece of driftwood, picked it up and, on arriving back at the hotel, presented it to the hotel manager, whose habit it is to decorate the walls of the hotel’s open air corridors with very artistic groupings of driftwood, shells, ropes, etcetera.

On being presented my gift, the hotel manager immediately said: “What a beautiful piece of driftwood, it reminds me of our indigineous snake…” and with no further ado set about fabricating the typical snake tongue out of a toothpick. When he was done, his eight years old son contributed some little stones, and I took this picture. So there you have it: the simple story of how to acquire a happy Greek holiday memory!

Idsert Joukes

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