Driving can shake the spine. Any trip to Mali – at the far northwestern tip – always reminds me of Eugenia, who works for the local lawyer, and a trip she made there from Chora in a family car in the mid-1980s, when she was young. The long jerky path along sheer cliffs, the tires spinning, the uninhabitable marble mines, the land sinking lower and lower with no life in sight – until it gets dark, and the village . And then being transported from the car, down its few white streets, with people holding oil lamps (there was no electricity in Mali until about a year ago) to a house in only five steps from the water. The sound of the tide beating on the green marble of the seabed, agitated but constant. She looked up at her father and whispered, “Am I dreaming?” “
Tinos seems to inspire stories of dreams. Maybe it’s the proximity to other islands at night, part shadow and hints of things, part glowing spots. When I meet Heidi and Andrea on a fall Sunday for dinner in the harbor, the Tinian wind brings the twilight streaming wildly past the restaurant’s open doors, a wind so alive and moving it’s almost visible, whipping in lines and fronds between elegant Victorian wrought-iron floor lamps. They both laugh and drink ouzo shots, very lively faces, cropped hair – one gold, the other silver – like John Seberg, or emperors in a Byzantine mosaic. âSo when you first arrived you were a hippieâ¦â I start to say – and Heidi looks sad. ‘No! I just wanted to be free. Not all freedom lovers are bohemians. ‘Oh my God!’ cries Andrea, of their first summers on the island and the intentional, luxurious glow of the night sky. ‘The heat and the STARS. We dragged our mattresses outside. In the village of Triantaros we were called “the people who sleep on the roofs”.