A new religion?

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
Thank you R.E.M

That’s me, third from the left on Little Banana Beach.

Every so often, usually tide dependent, the daily round the island tourist boat trip would bring the boat in so close to the beach that it was actually unsafe to be in the water. There would be whooping, hollering and jeering and loads and loads of photographs from the packed boat and so what better way than to recognise their interest but saluting the sun and moon, especially the moon.

It was a fun thing to do for the people on the beach and for the people in the boat. I often wondered how curious or jealous of our freedom the boat people might be. It was also a bit weird to be a local tourist attraction. But the overriding thing for me was that for once in my life it didn’t worry me that people were seeing me naked. In fact I was sort of revelling in the fact I was naked and having fun with it.

The boat puttered off into the distance and the beach returned to its peaceful quiet sanctuary. The really great thing about Little Banana was that everyone respected each other’s space and the calm of the place. So there were no radios, no raised voices, no rowdy behaviour and contrary to popular belief no sexual antics. Even the smokers tended to drift to one end of the beach.

For me it felt like being in the right place at the right time for a change. I had been stressed, exhausted and felt broken, but fate had led me to a little piece of paradise where people didn’t care whose suits I wore, how much I earned, what job I did or whether I was gay, straight, blue, Martian or Asian. By the way I hate the word Caucasian, what the hell does it mean ? My skin is pale like most northern Europeans and I have freckles? Thats just it, Naturism enables you to dispense with labels. To the people on the beach I was just me, no baggage, no preconceived ideas, just enjoying the freedom of lying in the sun with the breeze gently riffling the downy hair on my skin.

Looking back I can see that the freedom of not having to wear clothes and not being stressed about my appearance gave me the opportunity to focus on clearing my mind and relaxing for the first time in years. I guess these days people would call that feeling mindfulness but back then it was just zoned out bliss.

As I said, due to the tide, the Moon salute didn’t happen every day. It was amusing the first time the round the island boat came in but on the fifth time that week it became a bit tedious. Could it be that our genitalia were so attractive and different from theirs that they had to see? So the irony that they never ever stopped. They could have beached the prow of the boat just like in every other bay they stopped at, but no, no one ever came ashore to find out what the attraction was. Their loss I suppose.

When everything is taken into consideration, the round the island boat trip was just a 10 minute minor distraction in day of leisurely relaxation. It became a peculiar sort of timestamp to the day because if you heard the boat horn, the boat was chugging round the headland and you knew it was 2:30pm and the boat was 2 minutes away.

Skiathos round the island

Image courtesy of Skiathosisland.com

At the end of the day, they came for titillation, they got it and went away. I had a nice lazy day with very likeable people and at around 4.30pm I packed up my bits and bobs for the trip home. Up with a pair of shorts, on with a loosely buttoned shirt and swung my little blue rucksack over my shoulder, said my cheerios and ambled back up the hill and down into the Olive grove to the scooter. The scooter was old but reliable. Up the rutted track back onto the metalled lane and a slight downhill to the asphalt at Koukounaries. It’s sixteen kilometres from one end of the island to the other so the ride home was just over half an hour. But even at 5pm riding the scooter was like sitting on vibrating boneshaking dandyhorse into the strongest hottest hairdryer headwind; well it was cooling from 43C that day.

I was now looking forward to a long shower, to shed the sunscreen and salt, a bit of a lie down/snooze and some scrummy Greek food. The walk in to town from Nikos’s apartment was about 20 minutes. But that’s a story for another day.

For now I had become a disciple of the naked religion.




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