Agios Gordios is a tiny summer hamlet on the west coast of Corfu. As I write the sun has been temporarily screened by the merest whisp of spun sugar cloud. The pace of life in this minuscule patch of the island is so drowsy as to be almost in reverse. Everything is in slow motion: the desultory dog lazily chastised by his ancient master for trotting out in front of a scooter, the gentle tapping of the Illy machine as last nights dregs are shot into the stainless steel coffee bin. If I record a street scene using my iPhone’s new video slo mo feature, I wonder if i might actually tape what happened yesterday?
It is as though the world left Corfu behind and the island doesn’t seem in much of a hurry to catch up. The cars and trucks are from the nineties, the music is from eighties, and the plumbing is from the seventies.
Coming in from the airport last night, the battered Mercedes taxis cd played Phil Collins, the bar we had our first late night drink in played Gloria Gaynor and as I type this, On the Wings of Love is wafting over from the poolside bar. The busiest thing in Agios Gordios is the sea. Barrelling big white curls of surf slapped onto the flat yellow beach as I walked along the shoreline this morning, the Aegean was seemingly the only thing on the move. Every bar and cafe was fast asleep. The only person around was this gentleman, pushing a red wheelbarrow on some unknown errand.
Everything is faded. Outside one of the cafés, a washed out sign for ice cream, a veteran of many summers, stands next to its brighter neighbour; a cheery advert for cheap beer, timestamped by a Brazil 2014 logo. My first drink of the night was in a small bar on the strip. The owner, a bear of a man called Mykos, told me that he finishes work at two and that he will welcome me for breakfast at eight. I asked him when he sleeps. ‘November,’ he said. The winter is when both Agios and Mykos hibernate.
He has a son on the books of an English Premiership team. Proudly he told me of how highly is is thought of and how maybe one day he might play for Greece. As Mykos described his boys achievements, his tired eyes misted up. I had been on Corfu less than two hours and already I had a friend.
Agios Gordios is gloriously tatty. The roads camber away into scruffy ditches with gravel the only clue as to where they might end and the hills begin. Everything only just works; the neon signs, the lighting, the air conditioning. It all functions but you get the feeling anything could stop working at any time. This is not true of the natives. They all work. Young and old and every age in between. Their pace is slow, but relentless, like the waves on the beach.
Apart from the eighties sound track, the other noise synonymous with Agios is the buzz of the scooters that hum up and down the only road running through the village. I was pleased to note that in compliance with EU directive 34334KP, every scooter rider wore the standard issue safety equipment comprising of flip flops, swimwear and sunglasses. Inside the hire-shop, the rows of helmets gathered dust. Agios Gordios, nestling on the edge of pine covered mountains has a down at heel charm that forces you to adapt to its soporific pace of life. There is so much more to tell, but as the bar plays Fleetwood Mac and the heat starts to shimmer off the terracotta roofs, I fear I may have to sign off and continue my report…. mañana