If there was a competition for the scariest vacation ever, this one would come top of the list. Never before have I looked forward so much to a trip. The thought of the glistening Greek Islands and warm inviting sun was wonderful. Little did I know what was about to happen.
It was a hot Greek summer in 1987, and my friend and I were vacationing in Lindos, a quaint town on the island of Rhodes. The first five days were great fun – cycling on the winding roads, visiting the Acropolis, and exploring the fishing town of Haraki. On day six we awoke in our small holiday house to the sound of tanks and soldiers shouting. Somebody banged on the door calling to us in broken English, that we had better get out of there, a forest fire was on its way.
Scared and excited, we quickly dressed, grabbed our important belongings and went out into the street. The place was in chaos. Frightened people running in all directions, some trying to find loved ones, and others hailing down tanks to hitch a ride.
I didn’t know what was happening until someone pointed to the orange glow above the distant trees. It was then I noticed a dusting of gray smoke, which seemed to be getting darker and nearer to us by the minute.
Evacuation Of The Town.
Eventually we were ushered on to evacuation trucks. We met other tourists and together got dropped off on the road just outside the town. For about an hour 12 of us walked without our luggage to the nearest beach, thinking that if we were by the sea, the fire couldn’t harm us.
Luckily the beach had a small cafe that sold food and drink, and for a while we felt at ease. However, when the glow of the fire made its way to the beach, the owner packed up and left, leaving us to sit and wait.
Nothing happened for a few hours, and because we had been woken up so early most of us went to sleep.
Within about two hours we were woken by urgent shouts as more trucks arrived and the fire was even nearer, the powerful glow of the flames looking over the entire beach.
We had a difficult decision to make – do we get on the trucks without our luggage, and go to the other side of the island, or stay put by the sea, nearer to Lindos. My friend and I decided on the trucks, we wanted to be as far away from the fire as possible.
It was the day we should have been packing to fly home, instead we were tired and fed up after traveling over night on uncomfortable trucks, and stranded in a strange town miles away from Lindos.
“Would you like a ride?” said a tall tan lady.
We asked her where she was going and amazingly she was traveling to the airport. We asked if we could maybe go to Lindos and try to retrieve our luggage.
We had no idea how dangerous the drive would be. She was a good driver, as she managed to maneuver the car around frightening winding paths with steep drops on either side, I even closed my eyes once and prepared to die. The fire was always in front of us, and the lady, bless her, would get out to take pictures!
Eventually, like a miracle, we arrived at a safe Lindos. The fire had been eradicated and our luggage placed by the bus stop.
“Bye,” said the woman as she drove off by herself.
We climbed aboard and rested our heads on the windows until the bus stopped and we had to get off.
Believe it or not, we actually managed our evening flight. The lady that drove us so crazily to Lindos was never seen again, and wow! That was some vacation.