Cat Food at To Mouragi in 1985

Cat Food at To Mouragi in 1985

On my first visit to Amorgos in 1985 I met two young Israelis who were horrified to find that they could not buy tomatoes in Katapola and intended catching the first boat out. It could be that, so early in the season, the shopkeepers had not stocked up with tourists in mind. I did not look for, nor notice the lack of, tomatoes on my first visit to Katapola. If something I wanted was not available I would have gone without, and remembered next time I was going somewhere where something I wanted was not likely to be available, to take some with me. Certainly in 1985 I recall being able to buy as much yoghurt in Katapola as I wanted. In Anaphi in May 1996 I found no yoghurt on sale. I advised some Germans I met on Kimolos who were keen on yoghurt for breakfast and heading to Anaphi to take some with them. As the season advances, the local shops are more likely to import items to meet the quirks of tourists. On Anaphi for breakfast I made do with bread (fresh) and honey (imported as a surplus I had bought on Amorgos, not because I knew none would be on sale locally). There were beehives on Anaphi - but I saw no honey for sale in shops. If I stayed longer I might have discovered where to buy honey locally, from the producer.

Only one taverna was open in Katapola in March 1985 (there were other tavernas, but they were not open so early in the year). Everyone, locals and the handful of tourists, crowded into the small inside eating area of To Mouragi. It was too cold and windy to sit outside. To Mouragi is still there, modernised with a new toilet room taking up some of the inside seating area, but otherwise much as it was before. In 1985 To Mouragi seemed to have the only public phone in the village, and there was a steady stream of people wanting to use it. I never tried ringing England from Amorgos in 1985, and doubt if it was possible. Today using the cardphone in the square I can get through to England right away. [2011 update - I now take a mobile phone!]

"Big fish, little fish, squid" was the choice at To Mouragi back in 1985, and very good fish they were too. We tourist girls were popular with the locals, as we donated all our surplus drink to their table. Yannis, a shepherd from up on Minoa was one of the regulars in To Mouragi. Now retired and living in Chora, I still see Yannis on most visits. [2011 update - I have not seen Yannis for many years. Yannis' old house is now a house for visiting archaeologists and part is laid out as a museum, an example of an old Amorgos country house.] The menu in To Mouragi very much depended on what the fishing boats or ferry had brought in. I did not usually eat lunch at the taverna, preferring to take a snack with me into the hills. One wet and windy day I lunched at To Mouragi and found beef stew on the menu. It was delicious (the more so because I had not tasted meat for so long) but had all gone by the evening.

A chill March evening in 1985. Tourists and locals were all huddled in To Mouragi, the only taverna open, plying our Greek friends (including old Yannis) with drink. In those days half a litre of retsina was too much for me. I was eating Big Fish or Little Fish and piling my fishbones onto a spare plate. A local came past with some newspaper (a rare commodity in Amorgos in those days) and stopped at my table. "Miaou," he said, looking at my pile of bones. What more was needed! I hope his cats enjoyed their dinner.

Once watching TV at Mouragi I saw the weather forecast, and when I saw the numbers 9 and 10 dotted about the map I thought that the weather was about to become less chilly. Then I realised that the numbers were wind speeds (this was not long before the Marianna did not run on April 1).

On my second trip to Amorgos in 1990 the first thing I noticed was the wide range of fruit and vegetables on sale. Boxes full of colourful produce were displayed outside each of the three grocery shops by the harbour. The kiwi fruit in particular caught my eye. Not that I had any intention of buying Kiwi fruit, I was just interested to note that they were on sale. No one could catch the first boat out now because of the lack of tomatoes. Large and juicy beef tomatoes (so much more tasty than the tomatoes on sale in England) were outside every shop.