Spiro "Americanos"

Spiro's house - Kanoni 01

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Spiro and Gerald near The Lake of  Lillies with Spiros' ancient Dodge taxi that "honked  like a wounded duck".

Lake Antiniotissa (The Lake of Lillies) is nearby. The Lake is on the very north-east coast of Corfu - a mile long sheet of water separated from the sea by sand dunes.

" ...  Spiro brooded with immense concentration over a fire on which he had set a kettle. As I watched drowsily, the kettle lifted its lid and waved pertly at him, hissing steam. He seized it in one massive hand and poured the contents into a tea pot ...".

BIRDS BEASTS & RELATIVES © Gerald Durrell 1969

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The north-eastern Corfu coast seen from the slopes of Mount Pantokrator (near Loutses) with Lake Antiniotissa on the right and the cape behind. This is an important wildlife area.

In the sand dunes were bulbs which became "a glacier of flowers". These are Sand or Sea Daffodils (Pancratium Maritimum).

"Spiro had entered our lives on our arrival in Corfu as a taxi driver and within hours had transformed himself into our guide, mentor and friend. His curious command of the English language - learnt during a sojourn in Chicago - absolved Mother of the insoluble problems of trying to master the Greek tongue. His adoration of her was complete and selfless, as his often repeated phrase ‘Gollys, if I hads a mother like yours I’d go down on my knees and kisses her feets every morning’ bore witness.

He was a short, barrel-shaped man with massive dark eyebrows and those black, brooding, unreadable eyes that only Greeks appear to possess, fixed in a brown face like a benevolent gargoyle. Now he lumbered on to the veranda and went through the litany we did not want but which seemed to give him pleasure.

‘Good morning, Missy Margo. Good morning, Mr Larry. Good morning, Mr Leslies. Good morning, Master Gerrys,’ he intoned and like a well-trained choir we would all say, ‘Good morning, Spiro,’ in unison.

When this ritual was over, Larry took a thoughtful sip of his post-prandial ouzo. ‘Spiro, we have a problem,’ he confessed.

It was like saying ‘walkies’ to a bull mastiff. Spiro stiffened and his eyes narrowed. ‘You tells me, Mr Larrys,’ he said, in a voice which was so deep and rich it sounded like the birth cries of Krakatoa. ‘I’ll fixes it.’

‘It may be difficult,’ Larry admitted.

‘Don’ts you worrys, I’ll fixes it,"

- Marrying Off Mother (1991) by Gerald Durrell

Spiro's house rear view - Kanoni 02

Spiro's house and road - Kanoni 03

The pink building was the 1930's home of "Spiros" Americanos, patron saint of taxi drivers. His house is still owned by his descendants. Spiros' "Dodge" taxi would have plied this route countless times. Spiro, squatting behind the wheel and humming richly would, no doubt, have been honking his great, rubber-bulbed horn to 'scarce' the uncaring populace out of the way.

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"Spiro died in his own vine-wreathed house"

- Prospero's Cell © Lawrence Durrell 1945 & 1975

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