Tomorrow Comes Someday
The tide is coming in on Matala beach, and with the ebb and flow of the breakers come new and mysterious shells, begoggled children and the odd jellyfish. The waves push the sunburnt tourists back, lugging their rented deckchairs with them as they retreat up the beach. The magnificent cliff face watches over this with its many eyes – the Matala caves – which, for two euros, curious visitors burrow in and out of.
During the ‘60s, the caves were homes to hippies, travelers, artists and musicians who hung beaded curtains over entrances, decorated the walls with floral frescoes, filled handmade vases with Cretan flora, and made their beds on the raised stone slabs. A culture of art, community and peace emanated from the caves and in thick, colourful brushstrokes, the town was painted rainbow and tie-dye. The caves had housed bodies long before the arrival of the hippies. Most believe they were early Christian or Roman tombs, with their niches and eternal beds carved into the rock. The hippies breathed life into them and colourfully colonised the quiet seaside town.
Over time, the paint faded. The hippies were evicted from their cave homes, which were later declared a National Heritage Site, and the eccentric occupants left their sandstone utopia. That is, most of them.
In the cool shadows in the valleys and corners of rocky Matala, dwell the hippies who stayed; in quiet, contemplative caves. One of whom, Jules, sits beneath the shade of the palm trees on the beach. It has just gone eleven o’clock and the beach is still filling up, but Jules sits by the treeline, commanding a shady post for the day. He finishes his cigarette, a brown, thick cigarillo, and pours himself another glass of white wine from a plastic one-litre bottle. It’s warm and slightly flat now, but he doesn’t mind. He takes a small sip and turns back to his book, an obscure German paperback about a man who believes he is surrounded by idiots. Jules is French, but he enjoys reading in German. He finds the language to be visually appeasing and expressive - although he despises Germans and thus suffers an intense internal conflict whenever reading German literature. That inner-conflict is quieted with this novel, however, as he finds the protagonist to be a kindred spirit, as he gazes out over the red-nosed debris of German and Dutch tourists.
C’est vrai, he thinks, I am surrounded by idiots. He takes a gulp of wine and twists his face into a grimace as he surveys his company. Young men dressed head-to-toe in curio-store garb: beaded bangles stacked up their forearms, bandanas around their heads, tie-dye vests printed with Matala’s slogan - today is life, tomorrow never comes. They, too, are drunk at eleven in the morning, unruffled as they perch in their nests of empty Fix Hellas lager bottles. Jules rests his glare on them and mutters a string of curses, ending with - fucking plastic hippies.
He averts his attention and scans the beach again, searching for a familiar face. He hums what he remembers of a forgotten tune, and punctuates it with sneering ‘humphs’, sipping steadily. None of his friends are in sight yet. He takes time to flicker his eyes over the sun-browned women tanning topless by the water. The tourist season is long, running from May until October - an eternity over the sweltering summer days, and Jules straddles the line of love and hatred towards the onslaught of holidaymakers.
The ragged backpackers and campers who scamper barefoot in the street, flood him with a warm nostalgia, whilst the linen-draped tourists in their villas and hotels bring forth the repulsion for the bourgeoise that has festered in his heart since he was young. But still, he shrugs, they’re something to look at.
Accepting his morning solitude, Jules sighs and resubmerges into the sandy pages of his book.