At 6am, we get on the plane from Athens to Mykonos. The sun is rising as we board the bus to the plane, and the tinting on the bus windows makes the sunrise appear even more vividly pink and spectacular than it is. I have not seen such beauty since the last time I was on the Turkish coast.
The flight is short, 40 minutes, up and down, and the plane is filled with young European couples headed to party on their parent’s dollar. I had read there were only 31 cabs on the island, so we race from the baggage claim to the taxi, and get one of the last ones. The driver is conscientiously polite and considerate during the drive to the port, and not at all what I am used to in cab drivers.
The ferry ride itself is only 20 minutes from Mykonos to Tinos, our final destination for the next few months. The son of the windmill owner is waiting for us on the other side of the fence at the ferry station in Tinos. He takes us back to the windmill in his car, which is a welcome help with our bags and the overtired cat in tow, even though it is only a few minutes drive from the port.
The windmill is beyond expectations – more beautiful and more spacious than expected. It is comprised of three identically sized circular floors – the kitchen and dining room are on the ground floor and the upper two floors are bedrooms and living space. The windmill is located at the end point of a bay, and the views are incredible in every direction. There are at least 300 degrees of sea and bay views from the windmill, and the rest is mountain view.
The front door is divided into two parts that can be opened separately to reveal the stunning bay, where apparently there are multiple swimming beaches. From the front patio, we can see all the way to neighboring island Syros. The trim of the house is painted in a bright Greek blue. The floors are a dark slate stone. The renovation is beautiful. The location is beautiful. I cannot imagine anything going wrong.
That initial, inaugural bliss lasts a full couple of hours, before the first hints of trouble begin to appear. There seems to be one critical fact that I have overlooked. Windmills, by definition, are located in areas with a lot of wind. However, today, in a very rare twist of fate, there is zero wind. Which means that the mosquitoes are out en masse.
As the sun sets, the bloodsuckers begin to appear. Within minutes of the first bites we realize that there are no screens installed over the windows, and we race to shutter up every visible crack.
But it is far too late. The house is filled with more mosquitoes than I have ever before seen in an indoor space. We spend the next hours walking up and down all three floors smashing hundreds of bugs. But it becomes increasingly clear that we will never find them all, and we eventually give up and go to bed. The first night, we sweat profusely under heavy sheets, and still wake up in a puddle of blood splatters, dead mosquitoes and bites. The next morning my travelling partner looks like the elephant man, his face and lips swollen to ludicrous proportions after sticking his head out from under the covers in the night to breath. The second night is no better. I wake with 20 bites on the back of my left thigh alone, after apparently rolling out of the sheet during my sleep.
This went on for several nights before resolving itself, and not by the procurement of a mosquito net under which we attempt to sleep. We did manage to locate the only netting for sale on the island, but soon discover that it mysteriously has absolutely no effect, except to attract the little blood hunters, drawing them into a feeding frenzy. We awake in the night to what sounds like a beehive – the folds of the net have become so infested with mosquitoes that the communal buzzing is too loud to sleep through.
The onslaught continues for three nights before relief comes in the form of the much-anticipated winds.