Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mykonos Wild Life

Mykonos in August is a wild life lover’s paradise.  There are all kinds to observe, most with opposable thumbs though development beyond that point is often debated.  But there is a new fad in town involving Actinopterygii.  Yes, that’s biological classification talk for a class of  “bony fish.”  In a twist on the old “man bites dog” story, have you ever considered (voluntarily) sticking your toes in an aquarium filled with flesh-eating anchovies?

Dinner is served.
You haven’t?  Where have you been?  Okay, they’re not really anchovies, they’re known by many names, my favorite being the “reddish log sucker,” but all are bite size—so to speak.  They look almost too small to be even bait fish, but in this case the bait comes to them, patiently lined up outside the spa waiting their turn to be eaten alive.  I understand the practice started 400 years ago in Turkey and worked its way east—picking up marketing glitz and public health bans along the way—before ending up in Greece.

garra rufa aka doctor fish aka reddish log sucker
Frankly, I see no (al)lure to this whole phenomenon.  But then again I’ve never been one for pedicures and I understand that is the reason for the crowds.  You are offering the little critters the chance to nibble away at the dead skin on your feet in return for your being titillated in the process.  YEEEHH.   Make that double YEEEHH when you start to consider whose tootsies they might have been nibbling on before yours. 

Super Paradise Beach
No, that wasn’t an elaborate segue into a safe-sex sort of lecture, because in August here anything along those lines would certainly fall upon deaf toes.  Young who think they are invincible come from all over the world to flock on Mykonos, attracted by a 24/7 party atmosphere bouncing them between beaches during the day, the old town at night, and out-of-town clubs until sun up.

The transportation hub for all this madness is an area locals call the “bus station.” It’s not really a bus station, just an area big enough for five buses and half-dozen taxis fifty yards inside the old town’s southern vehicular entrance.  There is also an entrance for taxis and smaller, permitted vehicles at the north end, but the bus station is where you come to catch a ride to many of the island’s better known beaches during the day and to all its out of town, party-until-sunrise clubs during the night. 
Mykonos' Bus Station

During tourist season the bus station is a virtual around the clock funnel for crowds of tourists rushing in and out of town.  It’s surrounded by a bazaar of businesses catering to holiday needs and fantasies: food shops for a fast meal and booze; kiosks selling cigarettes, postcards, phone cards, film, candy, gum, ice cream, condoms, and more; stands hawking last-minute souvenirs; motorbike and car rentals; ATMs; and just beyond the craziness, I’m pleased to say a bookseller.  In quiet contrast to it all, unnoticed behind an unobtrusive wall on a eucalyptus-shaded knoll above the bustle, sits the final resting place of Mykonos’ recently departed. 

An out of town bookstore
I’ve always considered the bus station my portal to a wild amusement park, a place where anytime I desired, day or night, I simply stepped over the edge into the midst of my deepest fantasy, wandering about the town invisibly, taking in only the energy I chose and returning safely and unharmed to my reality whenever I wanted.  But as with all fantasies one seeks to make real, there is definite harm afoot for the fool-hearty and careless, especially for those who drive when they should not.  But that’s another story.

Whoops, got to run, it’s almost my turn in the tank.  Sure hope they’ll let me keep my socks on.



  1. Now Jeff, a little aquatic adventure is good for you! What's a bit of toe fungus shared among fellow inhabitants of Mykonos? Now I just have to wonder what that expensive fish food I used to buy for my tropical fish was actually made of. Could it have been just flakes of human skin, with a huge markup? And where do they get it? From the local mortuary? Food for thought, pun intended

  2. One of the places to see before I die - the Greek Islands! I've been trying to get there!

  3. Jody, you worry about what's in your fish food? I worry about what's in the drinks:).

    Harvee, it is definitely worth the trip, but not in August.


  4. I think I'll stick with my other images of Mykonos-far away from the driving beat of the clubs, the Mykonos in your books. As for the fish, yuck!