As the island is famous for its sunsets, our evening agenda consistently centered on our sunset plans: a picnic dinner … at sunset; a view of the windmills … at sunset; wine tasting … at sunset; a wedding ceremony … at sunset. Which then makes sense that, if one were looking to stalk tourists, one would only need to look as far as a scenic location … at sunset.

On the cliffs near the windmills, at sunset, they started to follow us. Two guys, a few years younger than me. We thought them annoying but harmless. To lose them, we found an open-air restaurant and watched the remainder setting-sun over (bad) wine, baked lamb, and tzaziki (which they serve with bread). The guys were waiting for us when we left the restaurant over ninety minutes later. And resumed their following. We wandered into stores, we took quick turns, we adamantly said, “Go!” yet they continued our direction. At the edge of town, Cousin ‘Olly ducked into a side street and, luckily, they did not follow us.

Our hotel, the quaint Lotza Studios, was located in the outskirts of Oia, in a cute neighborhood found after a five to eight minute walk on country roads. We were worried about that part, as that section is somewhat remote, but, like I said, they disappeared; problem supposedly solved.

Our stalkers were waiting at the neighborhood entrance. Patiently lounging against a bus stop. Nervously, we skittered past. Upon entering the neighborhood which was composed of winding paths about five feet wide (cars were not allowed), they followed us, never talking but always swarming. When we would stop, they would pass us. When we would change directions, they, being on home turf, would take a detour and meet up with us half a block later. It was scary. I have never had anything like that happen in the U.S. – and I used to frequently go on midnight walks, alone, in college (I like night).

Our hotel was cottage-like, with our own entrance (see: the pic with the dog on our terrace), so to avoid letting them know our exact location, we hid in the pool’s upper terrace for a few minutes, biding our time until the threat had past. After escaping from the pool area to our honeymoon bungalow, we crouched on the bed, keeping quiet, afraid to move even though we were 98-percent confident in our 007 skills. We were wrong. They started to pelt rocks at our door. Taunting us.

Our lock was a wooden block that overlapped the door by less than a centimeter. No deadbolt. No chain. A wooden block on a wooden door. A centimeter of wood-on-wood was supposed to keep us safe. Which is why we moved the bench. Not because we thought it would prove a worth adversary, but because it would make noise, subsequently waking us, if moved.

And in bed, we brought weapons. The only weapons we had. Cousin ‘Olly chose a frying pan; I chose my turned-off, questionable-service cell phone. And even though she could have chosen the kitchenette’s knives and I had no one to call on my phone, we foolishly felt safe with these items. Even at home, I sleep with my phone in-hand when scared. It’s my security blanket.

And, somehow, we slept.

The dawn brought the dawning realization that maybe we had overreacted. Maybe it was all in our heads. It was all so silly … Until Cousin ‘Olly brought her breakfast onto the terrace and four dudes were sitting on the hotel’s upper deck, which overlooked our terrace, and greeted “Hello!”

She came back inside, paranoid once again, and we made plans to visit a beach, on the other side of the island (three miles aka 90 minutes by bus). While waiting for the bus, our stalkers walked past again, saying hello, and drove back and fourth on their mopeds, never attempting further contact. I hadn’t been paying attention to details the previous evening; I was too busy trying to get away, but Cousin ‘Olly confirmed the positive ID.

“He only has ONE FRONT TOOTH?”

“Yes, Mol. Why can’t you get over that?”

“We can’t even get ATTRACTIVE stalkers? We get ones with MISSING TEETH?”

“Apparently, but I do not understand why that is relevant.”

Our beach day was perfect until the ride home when, I am not kidding, our cab drove right by them. We ducked but too late; they changed directions back to our neighborhood.

Frustrated but relatively certain they were harmless, we ventured into town that evening. Because we had to watch the sunset.

Post-sunset shopping, we ran into a Colorado-born store owner. Fluent English and Greek knowledge! After hearing our story, he assured us that the behavior was odd for a Greek but if they were Greek, we would have nothing to worry about. He seemed skeptical about our story … until they casually sauntered past the open storefront and we pointed them out.

“Oh. They are not Greek. They are Albanian.”

He said this disgustingly.

Greeks, generally, do not like Albanians. I have no idea as to the history behind the distrust (feud?), but they just don’t like them. We had received warnings, (“Watch out for the Albanians” or “Do not talk to him. He is from Albania.”) but we generally dismissed the warning as inconsequential. (For the geographically challenged (like me), Albania is northwest of Greece).

He then wrote down the phone number for the police even though they “don’t have a station, but if you call, someone will come help.”

Hm. Police without a station, who might not speak English nor find us on the unnamed country road. Our odds were looking GREAT. Instead, we played it safe, going home before darkness, and dining on chocolate cake and wine poolside.

They left us alone that night. And we left early the next morning, only briefly spotting our one-toothed stalker when safely aboard the bus.

*Yes, that is my cell phone. It is over a year old. I realize that it’s ugly. I have thought it ugly for the entire year that I have owned it. But last year, when I brought in the battered two halves of my old cell phone, the sale clerk said that I should probably buy something “sturdy” — anything delicate and cute and girly was out of the question. He also yelled at me for not buying the $2/month insurance. Which, no matter how often I drop the thing, is still a waste of money and I am cheap, regardless of my contradicting exploits in retail therapy. The purchase was worthwhile as, a year later, the battery can still carry through the weekend and the phone is in one piece. But it is still very, very ugly.

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