destroyed, and now it is a church. She tells us how she swims out to the church to clean it. We imagine the sight of her swimming, pushing her bobbing
bucket with cleaning things in front of her.
Sophias godfather (her fathers cousin) takes us out in his boat, to a beach that makes me feel as though Im in a Peter
Native Ithacans, her godfather and his wife have spent most of their adult lives in London. They return to Ithaca customarily
for the summer months. Their daughter Lena, her husband and young son are with them.
Talk turns to Lenas move from London to Northumberland in the north of England. It seems cold in many respects. So unlike
Ithaca, wherelike the Gods and Goddesses of oldit seems everyone is related. It has been hard to find work and become part of the community there.
Just recently she found work as an art therapist, and is happy to no longer be a "nikokira" (more than a housewife, but still confined to the home).
Her mother doesnt seem able to understand her frustration. "But you're so good at keeping yourself busy!" she scolds.
We talk of Penelope, Odysseus wife, who waited twenty years for his return. She is characterised by Homer as an example of
female virtue, prudence, morality and conjugal faith and devotion.
On her mothers side, as economic migrants, Sophias grandmother Nitsa was born and grew up in Turkey where her father sold fish.
At the age of fifteen her father died, and her mother was told that she couldnt stay there as "a woman on her own", so she moved back to Ithaca with her
children. A short while later Nitsa met a young man and he asked her to marry him. She accepted, and he brought her to South Africa.
"How did they meet?" I ask Sophia.
"At a well!" she laughs.
It seems that truth really is stranger than fiction.
"The 24th of June, St Johns day," says a little Ithacan guide book, "was the day the unmarried girls would find out their
matrimonial future. At noon every unmarried girl would go down to the main well. Counting out forty buckets, she would throw the water of each bucket
over her shoulder, while at the same time her eyes were fixed on a mirror, that was placed on the well, where she would see her husband."
Of course the fairy tale told only half the story. On arrival in South Africa (in 1919 at the age of just seventeen),
she wasnt happy. She had loved Turkey. In Bethlehem in the Free State she worked in her husbands café. She became a bitter woman, and eventually
died in Orange Grove in Johannesburg. (Curiously her most redeeming feature was a love of wildlife.) "Perhaps," someone suggests, "apart from her
love of the place, she was forced to leave behind someone that she loved in Turkey, too."
Turkey is thought to be Odysseus Troy.
It is our last day. We awake as usual to the sound of cocks crowing (the cock is a symbol of Odysseus) and mopeds
whizzing past the shutters that open out onto the water. Apart from the boat, we have only been within walking