David is CEO, president, managing director, author, publisher, and chief bottlewasher of The Kamini Comet, a website devoted to promoting the lighter side of life. On his first visit to Hydra back in 1983, he decided that owning a bar in this exotic location was an ideal way not to spend the rest of his life in the fast-lane of corporate advertising and journalism. It was an idea spawned by the Honorable Bill Cunliffe of Bill’s Bar, renowned wateringhole for anyone who knew this part of the world at the time. He and a couple of old-timers, Anthony Kingsmill and Leonard Bernstein, planted the seed: Come!
Returning in the summer of 1985, David acquired the Bahia Bar and Restaurant in the heart of Hydra, assuming that this was a justifiable way to achieve semiretirement early in life. Naivety, misjudgment, and somewhat shrewder local business circumstances conspired to teach him that life wasn’t that simple. One does not open a local pub in an exclusive destination and live happily ever after. Small print and subsequent loss of said operation encouraged him to investigate other avenues of survival.
A decade’s worth of practical new skills emerged, from crewing on yachts to gardening. He helped arrange famous birthday parties, such as Joan Collins’s 55th, and rescue dying donkeys (a tale published in his collection of stories about life on the island, Rhubarb!).
In 1995, David launched the island’s first community website, the Hydranet. He also prematurely and simultaneously opened the island’s first public Internet office. At the time, the incidental and computer-literate tourist was seriously impressed to find such hi-tech coms on the Rock. Even Koffi Annan was impressed when shown our operation by Mayor Kosta Anastopoulous when the UN secretary general was visiting back then.
David and his partner, Michael Giese, ran the business on steam and analogue phone lines (Hydra only went digital a couple of days before the millennium). Downloading simple text messages could take minutes, and sending an images, hours.
Even with his enthusiasm for this new medium, David couldn’t have predicted the massive proliferation of Internet technology. Back in the late 1990s, an unprofessional little website with only a couple of dozens pages of info, Hydranet leapt to the top page of all search engines, simply because it existed. (We were even bigger than Corfu or Crete in the first months).
Today, 188,000 pages come up in under a second on Google if you just type “Hydra Greece” into the search box. Such fierce competition in virtual Hydra space was reminiscent of the rat race, so David moved away from the central business district of downtown Hydra to the subsuburb of Kamini, where he continues his writing, adding to his collection of Rhubarbs and maintaining the Fair Society, an astronomy site he conceived in 1998 to promote asteroid awareness and raise funding for research.
From Jonathan Carr, “Literary Lions and Lines of Hydra,” 2004
Another man who knows how to make people laugh is David Fagan. Islands need all-rounders and this Irishman who grew up mostly in Africa is a prime example. Whether running a bar, preventing visiting artists from confusing dinosaur and dolphin skulls, serving dinner to royalty, searching for missing donkeys, restoring monasteries, digging for gold or introducing the internet to islanders, Fagan has certainly been around. In Rhubarbs From a Rock he recounts in a light-hearted way some of his experiences over twenty years of living on Hydra. From an unashamedly expatriate viewpoint, in one close call and adventure after another, he reveals some of the absurdities of island life and sketches many a memorable character. He laughs both at himself and others, and successfully conveys the degree of his affection for the island and its people.
Rhubarb! Tales of Survival on a Little Greek Island
Ever wondered what it would be like to escape civilization to a place with nary a television and barely a phone? In 1983, David Fagan arrived on the Saronic island of Hydra, Greece, for an hour’s stay, ripped up his return ticket, and marooned himself as a permanent inmate of “the Rock.” Through a series of anec-dotes, affectionately termed “rhubarbs,” he paints a vivid por-trait of life among quirky expats and loveable locals on a unique island during a bygone era, before the first world and the twenty-first century caught up with him.