The name Malulani is close to my heart.
Touched with the allure of the exotic, good omens (in the Hawaiian language, it means “protected by heaven”). Malulani was the name of the boat — or, more accurately, the home — where my mother and Bambo, my stepfather, lived in the summertime.
They had a cruise line, based in Greece, Italy, and New York. After a winter of working in the Caribbean and South America, they came back to Genoa in the summer and stayed for a few months.
Malulani was anchored at Portofino. I would dream of it waiting for me in the small bay when my brother Pilli and I were surrounded by the snowy Swiss Alps, counting the days until the end of the school year. We couldn’t wait to see Malulani again.
She stood, enveloped in the summer sun, large, inviting, almost beatific, waiting to take us southward. With a slow, steady pace, it took a week for us to travel the coasts of Italy, cross the Adriatic to the Corinth Canal and arrive at Vouliagmeni in Greece.
This trip was heaven on earth. We stopped in the middle of the sea to swim or to hop on fishing boats to buy freshly caught fish, slipper lobsters, red lobsters, and other delicacies.
In those days, very few boats were on the sea, and the peace, broken only by the sea lapping on the hull, slipped gently you into a Zen-like state of mind. We read, we trolled for fish, we repaired nets and longlines. Some evenings we dropped the punt into the sea with its fishing lamp and tried to spear garfish.
Vouliagmeni was convenient for my parents, because it was connected to Athens with a white road so they could go to the office in the morning and come back in the evening. And it was incredible for us with its endless beaches, sparsely populated in those days, marvelous in their simplicity.
On board Malulani there was a Boston Whaler, a punt, and, a Flying Dutchman, much to my delight. On my mother’s side I come from a long line of seafarers. No doubt I inherited something from them because I felt a joy like no other going from cove to cove, full speed ahead. For me, the real magic was going out alone. Even later at night, I’d go out with a Soling (a much larger boat).
I always loved being alone with just the sea and the wind. I was happy to leave the Whaler to my brother Pilli who loved to skim over the water with its motor, while Aleco practiced swimming, still too young to follow us.
All three of us made use of our athletic training, required at our boarding schools, which helped us excel in many sports. We all raced nationally and internationally, each in different disciplines.
These were long, wonderful summers, gifts from Malulani. They always ended too soon for me, for I could never get enough. Our time was spent wrapped in the warmth and energy of our family, and touched by the magical charm of the Mediterranean, which we learned to understand thanks most of all to our extraordinary, charismatic stepfather, Bambo.