I would have had up to thirty years to see certain parts of the sea; others I had seen more recently, before twenty or fifteen years. But I had never seen all the beaches together, in a single sweep of all southern Mykonos, from the westernmost tip, opposite Delos, to the most eastern, where it opens up to Ikaria.
The southern coasts are the most popular and the most densely populated, in all the Cyclades. Understandably: protected from the northerlies and from the meltemi, they are offered for swimming and for sunbathing. This natural advantage was irrelevant before the tourist years: the islanders were wondering how to secure cultivable land. Their relationship with the coastline was exhausted in how to secure sheltered harbors and ports; the children’s swimming was done necessarily and within the harbor, on the beach. The coasts were the kingdom of the fishermen, the octopus hunters, the sponge divers, and the sea urchin collectors. These were true in pre-touristic antiquity, in times that no one remembers anymore, or doesn’t want to remember.
During the tourist modernity, the southern beaches of Mykonos became a field of expression for all values, desires and fantasies of modern Greeks, for whom the place is a home with a view, the earth is real estate, the coast is a tool for entertainment, and the cliffs are a reception for gardens and swimming pools. Thus, everything is built everywhere. Tsimento, beton, stone, mandra-toychi, pergolas, garages, swimming pools, and an endless network of electrical wires on every rooftop.
The sun was shining. Every cove, creek, port in Mykonos is a wonderful beach, with golden sand and unique waters, usually cold, with colors ranging from transparent light green to lively green and deep blue. The unique beauty of Mykonos is the light that multiplies in pyritous rocks, granites and gneisses; it is the impressive contrast of the dust, earth of the summer on top of two blue screens, the sky and the sea.
The light remains; the earth is lost. The earth has been completely taken over by buildings. Everywhere. On every beach, on every slope and valley, in every nook and cranny, on every ridge and peak, houses, villas, resorts, mansions, bungalows, concrete skeletons, many of them empty and closed, like a rash of a different skin disease, huge hotels like prolonged wounds, pine forests, restaurants, clubs, like colonies of mushrooms. Everywhere.
Something wilder, hawks, five-fingered cormorants, hanging juniper bushes on barren rocks, solitary reeds, the few remaining elements that claim a piece of earth. They too are defeated, they are constantly yielding. In the northeasternmost point, a falcon, falco eleonorae, the old man of the Aegean. We shared with him the free sea, the one without owners, carefree and poetic.
We started the yacht in reverse out of the harbor. In the dim light, the island struggled to regain its volume, its form, something of the grandeur it had lost. In vain. On the world-weary beaches, the pale camps spread out even more wildly in the night, like hostile spacecraft. Like vultures of simplicity, that extinguish leaving behind only desolation of ruins. Leaving behind in the future an incomprehensible wasteland, a refuge for hermits and wild animals.