We arrived at the Rhodes airport (RHO) at 10pm. It seemed nice enough: bright, expansive, plenty of room for a flash mob. But there was no flash mob, just a queue for Tor Air that heaved with hundreds of angry passengers. Our flight back to London was delayed by two hours. It would depart at 2am rather than midnight.
Rhys and I made our way through to security, which wasn’t exactly ‘secure’. It consisted of three elderly Greek men leaned against a metal detector, their uniforms unbuttoned to their navels which exposed their ample meavage (men’s cleavage). I wondered if their leering passed for an X-ray machine.
We walked down a long hallway that opened on to a concourse. I was excited. I love airports. I love them so much that I got married in one (YVR, August 3, 2006). I love the atmosphere, the excitement, the movement. I love buying gum and magazines. I love pretending I can afford a Louis Vuitton purse. I love free samples of alcohol. I love paying too much for a sandwich. I love it all!
But this was Rhodes airport, and there was nothing on the other side. Nothing. It was like being a really good Christian your whole life and finding out there is no heaven: disappointing.
Okay, ‘nothing’ is not entirely accurate. There was a little something. One shop, duty-free. And usually I enjoy a good duty-free shop but this was a duty-free shop in Rhodes airport, which means something completely different. They had perfume, cigarettes, ouzo, six-packs of canned soda, and stuffed animals wearing t-shirts that said ‘Rhodes’. That was all.
Rhys pulled me from the shop, insisting that we must have missed a bar where we could pass the next four hours. As we walked down the concourse once more, there was an announcement: ‘Flight 77 to London Gatwick delayed to 7am.’ I gasped for breath, quickly doing the math in my head. Nine hours. Nine!
I wondered what I had done in my life to deserve this. Was it calling the police about my father’s illegal music downloads? Was it stealing my sister’s fiancé Theo the night before her wedding? Was it taking my mother’s wedding ring and pawning it to pay for this trip? I wasn’t sure.
Rhys and I would be spending the next nine hours of our lives in the Rhodes airport, and I wasn’t sure if our marriage could sustain it. We returned to the duty-free, hoping to find a bottle of ouzo big enough. I lugged the bottle toward the cashier, but something caught my eye: tzatziki. If you are not familiar with the dip made from strained yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, lemon juice and parsley; let me tell you something: get familiar. It is one tasty condiment.
Then Rhys made a noise that sounded a little like an angry baby tiger. He called to me, waving a box in the air. ‘Breadsticks!’ We were set. If nothing else, we now had access to tzatziki, breadsticks and a six-pack of 7up. We were fine. We were going to make it to make it.
One tub of tzatziki, two litres of ouzo, three crossword puzzles, four attempts to get some shut-eye, five high-fives, six trips to the airport bathroom, seven games of Settlers of Catan, eight conversations with strangers about the flight being delayed, and nine hours later- we boarded the retro plane and said good-bye to the Rhodes airport. It was a slice.