Nia Magoulianiti-McGregor visits Greece on her own and meets a fabulous Italian family
I’m so sick of freezing through a Highveld winter and so in need of a cheap all inclusive holiday that I book a ticket to Mykonos for two weeks. Just for me, myself and I.
‘Are you mad?’ people say. ‘Who will you talk to?’
Oh no, I begin to worry. Who will I talk to? And oh, the last time I went on holiday to Mykonos was with my ex-husband and son when we were a happy, nuclear family.
Would I start hankering for a past life?
A few friends start considering coming along. Nothing works out. Dates clash.
Planes fill up. I start panicking about being lonely. But somewhere in the back of my mind I want to try and do this.
I pack my suitcase really carefully. Plenty of books, white dresses, tops, ankle chains, kikois and enough homeopathic medicine to start an alternative pharmacy and, yeah baby, a pack of condoms.
A week before I’m due to leave, I break out in a rash. I think it’s stress. The tests come back positive for glandular fever, a.k.a. the ‘teenage kissing disease’. I am exhausted and can’t remember kissing anyone. The rash clears up by Wednesday. I get pink eye on Thursday. I’m flying out Friday night.
I guiltily push into the long queue at the airport. The Greek man behind winks at me and says, ‘Endaxi, we go through together.’
I wave my bag goodbye and, at Athens airport, wave Yiannis a relieved goodbye too. It’s hard to be chatted up at 4am.
I wait and wait to be reunited with my suitcase. I am the last, lonely person at the conveyer belt at Mykonos Airport.
I report it missing, defeated. ‘Don’t worry,’ says the baggage handler cheerfully, ‘it’ll probably come tomorrow, eh?’ I have nothing but the clothes on my back and the contents of my handbag (toothbrush, toothpaste and, thank heavens, a much needed bottle of Rescue Remedy).
Still, I love my room at the sweet little self-catering place that’s about a 10-minute walk from nudist Paradise Beach. But now it’s 35 degrees and I need a swim. With no luggage – no bikini, no hat, no nothing – a nude beach is really the only place to go. I grab a bath towel, buy some suntan lotion en route and head for Paradise.
Very few people are actually completely naked. I am winter-white, on the wrong side of 49 and alone. My cellulite has seen better days. But the water is clear and wonderful, and I’m not swimming in my panties doll! It’s the moment of truth.It’s like the game we used to play with hibiscus flowers as children.
‘She takes off her shoes, she takes off her top, she takes off her jeans, she takes off her panties.’ I am as nekkid as the day I was born. I walk to the warm blue sea. I know my bum is wiggling and my breasts are jiggling.I am just relieved I didn’t have time to have a Brazilian wax before I left.
Someone actually talks to me. In fact I am invited to dinner by Claudio, an Italian attorney who is also on his own.
I start to relax. I get a bit of a tan. My pink eye has gone away. My hair looks good. I think about my ex, but I don’t miss him, just the face creams in my suitcase.
My suitcase arrives two days later. I am embarrassed at how full it is. I have a Zen moment when I realise how little I really need on this holiday.
The next day, four young Italians move in next door.
They’ve brought pasta and wine and one (Rosario) has even brought his mama. They adopt me and flirt with me at the same time. Charming Alessandro is a family counsellor and offers me a Shiatsu massage. No, grazie! Gorgeous Ramundo, 28, is a train driver and offers me something more interesting.
Er, no, grazie (but I am sorely tempted.) Enrico drinks my whiskey but makes me pasta. They buy me dinner. They call me ‘eeenteresting’. Already in my head, I’m Sophia Loren. She once said, ‘Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.’ And suddenly I believe!