DELOS LAWRENCE DURELL STORY - DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT...
All guide-books and all guides will tell you that no one is allowed, by law, to stay on Delos overnight, but there is a wonderful story about how Lawrence Durrell, the famous Philhellene and English author, managed to do this and have the most magical night of his life. In his book, The Greek Islands, Durrell explains how he gained the cooperation of a boatman, practiced a slight deception on the men guarding Delos, and spent a romantic and spiritual night on the sacred island under the protection of Apollo himself.
Durrell hired a boatman, named Janko, to take him and his wife to the Bay of Phourni, below the old site of the abandoned Aesculapion. He had with him a sack that contained beer, bread, meat, and fruit and he also had sleeping bags. Janko dropped them off early in a very secluded area and then left. This was not unusual, because it was the custom for small boats to drop visitors off, then return in the early evening to take them back.
The boatman came back to Delos, as Durrell planned, but he returned to Mykonos without his passengers. Janko's part in the deception was to make sure the guards saw the boat leaving from afar. He knew the guards would assume passengers were on board, but they were not. Durrell said the evening was perfect with Appolo protecting them, Zephyr controlling the calm breezes, and Aphrodite orchestrating the sunset. They swam nude by the rising moon and came back to drink the warm soup and coffee from the thermos flasks thoughtfully brought by Janko.
As dusk fell, they snuggled in their sleeping bags, but were awakened at midnight by the brilliant, white light of the moon. Deciding to prowl among the ruins, they climbed over rocks and through barbed wire, but they did not need lights because, according to Durrell, "we could have read a newspaper by the moon's light." They came upon what must have been the floor of a villa and, by the light of the moon, saw what looked like an ordinary fish design. Durrell went to the sea for a pail of water, splashed the sea water over the floor, and, like a photograph developing in a tray, the head of the most beautiful dolphin emerged. It was one of the famous mosaics that would be viewed by the public in later years, but he and his wife saw it long before others.
Durrell described Delos as "silent and ominous" at night with snakes and lizards slithering about, but he said it was also magical. When the moon gave up its brilliance, they managed to sleep once again and in the early morning the boatman returned. Reluctantly, they boarded the boat this time and returned to Mykonos.