Taking the sprinklers for granted

Our holiday resort was, all things considered, a fairly spectacular achievement.

At reception, there arrive at regular intervals, bands of weary and bleary-eyed travellers from all over the globe – Germany, Russia, Britain, The Czech Republic, Poland, the USA. )Which, rather oddly, turns English into the lingua franca, by unspoken mutual consent.)

Trailing gratefully into a cool, marbled reception area and blinking in the heat, they wait to be ushered to their shaded rooms where they can while away the hottest hours, then drift downstairs to select from a mountainous array of food – salads, fruits, fishes and meats, vegetarian specialities and peculiar twists on western favourites – I never tried the scrambled egg with tomato – served in the restaurants or at the bars that dot the outside terraces and the beaches.

Thassos is a Greek island very close to the southern Greek mainland, easy to get around on the main road which rings it, densely wooded, pretty and clinging on round the rocks and mountains that rise from its middle. Lest I should sound as if I embarked on an adventurous tour of the island, I didn’t – it was simply too hot to do anything but the basics.

But, going up the long drive-way to our hotel, marvelling at the profusion of tall Mediterranean pines and palms, I did notice and marvel at the green lawns, kept fresh with an artfully concealed array of ground sprinklers working during the day, their more obvious larger arms spraying in graceful arcs after nightfall. In this arid, dry climate, it is clear that trees are almost venerated and fresh water is very precious. Yet, here for the delight of visitors who stroll past largely oblivious, there were scarlet roses, pale leafed white beauties concealed, and green lawns. So that visitors can feel at home? So that they can feel cossetted in the cool?

It left me feeling peculiarly dislocated: I travel, by and large, to see new things, and yet, it seems that we and our fellow travellers are provided with all the comforts of home – air con, mosquito nets over the windows, refrigeration, generator power, all is laid on to ensure we are happy, even if that costs a great deal to our uncomplaining hosts.

How lucky we were.

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