Woke up on a bench in a port feeling fresh and ready to go. I always wake up feeling fresh and ready to go when I wake up on metal benches in ports in Greece. This day was going to be a big one, so instead of getting started right away I procrastinated by getting some food, washing up, going back to the Internet cafe, buying a SIM card, etc...until it was almost one o'clock.
From there I got myself set up and set off on the 41 km run to Raveni. I had to stop a couple times in the first couple minutes to resituate the bag of cookies that was making rustling sounds in my backpack. I bought them in case there was nothing in Raveni. Everyone knows that a couple cookies will save you from starving to death in Greek mountains.
About two hours into the run I started feeling pretty thirsty, and luckily came across a little mini market where I stopped to grab some water. I didn't know the Greek word for water. I had bought a little phrase book in the port, but I was too tired to get it out. I was to tired to put on my shirt. I just stumbled into this little store covered in sweat and started pointing like an idiot at my mouth. With sweat in my eyes, I was looking around trying to find a bottle of water. I finally found a case and reach down to grab a couple bottles. Before I could though, the guy said one word that I understood: "Ice." It sounded good to me, so I waited until he came back with a cold bottle of water and wrote down the price on a piece of paper. I paid, downed the liter and a half or so, and continued climbing the hill. I gained almost 700 meters of elevation this day.
As I got close to Raveni I found a little box with a ribbon tied around it lying perfectly in the middle of the road. I went over and grabbed it, hoping that it might be a box of diamonds or something that I could maybe use to barter for a place to stay. I excitedly opened it to find 7 old Smarties. Not quite what I was looking for. Despite what magical powers they might have possessed, I decided to not eat them.
A little bit closer to Raveni, as I was wiped out and my legs were completely drained, a gnarly looking dog ran over a mound of dry grass and started barking and chasing after me. It wasn't that big, and it had those nasty hanging nipples that wild dogs often have, which I was sure would make it run slower than me. I've ran past some nastier bitches, so I didn't think twice...I just kept running as it's barks followed close behind. All of a sudden though, the barks got louder and fiercer, and I turned around to see that it had been joined by a crazy looking friend about the size of a big German Shepard. Not quite as pretty as a German Shepard though, and it was showing fangs and making some pretty crazy barking, hissing, and growling sounds as saliva spewed from its mouth and it rushed towards me...the other dog following close behind. I have to admit, I was frightened. I picked up the pace and tried to not look back...but each time I did the nasty dog was a little bit closer to my leg and making some noises which (granted, I don't speak Greek Dog) meant "I want to eat you" to me. A truck approached, and I looked towards it with eyes that read "save me please"...I was ready to jump in the back, but as the truck honked its horn a couple times, the dogs calmed down and went back home. My heart also calmed down, and I continued on to try to find a home of my own.
When I got into Raveni, a man and his wife were working in the garden, and they said some sort of greeting to me. I said one word that I knew that they would understand: "Supermarket?"...and they just laughed. There is no supermarket in Raveni. There is not a store. There is not a cafe. All there was was me and a few handfuls of people that couldn't speak my language.
I helped the guy move some buckets of dirt, and he brought me over to a friend of his who lived nearby. He asked the older gentleman if he spoke any English (I could gather this much), and the man responded to me with a "Sprachst du Deutsch?" I sure did speak a little bit of German, and I spent a few minutes explaining to the man why I was there and what I was looking for. He relayed the information to his friend, and I spent an hour or so sitting down answering questions and asking some of my own as they brought me some plates of Greek food, yogurt, water, beer, figs, baklava, and some kind of rose flavored gummy candy. They said that there was nowhere to sleep in the town, but that I should continue on about 5 km to the next town, where I would more likely find something. The town they named did not exist on my map, but I started walking that way anyways, figuring that I had enough food to last the night if I ended up on a road in the middle of nowhere.
Sure enough, Vrosina did exist, and I went into the one street town with high hopes. There was a little bakery and a couple cafe type places, but not much else. The town could be passed through in about two minutes of walking.
I talked to a girl that looked about 20, assuming that she would likely speak some English. She didn't. She was also not very patient with my hand signals. She definitely would not help me out with a place to sleep. I asked her if there was someone in the town that spoke English. She pointed to one of the little restaurant things, and I went there. The woman who was working the place didn't speak any English, so I just got a plate of rice with some meat and sat down to eat. After a while, another young woman came in, and I asked her if she spoke any English. She did, and like many of the people who I encountered, seemed a little bit bothered by my presence. She told me that there was probably a hotel in a town about ten kilometers away, and I asked her if she could help me with anywhere to sleep in Vrosina. "The church or something like that?" I said. She said that I could sleep in the church, and I later realized that she meant that I could sleep outside under the cover of the roof of the old church. She went away for a couple minutes and came back with a blanket and an old mattress pad, and showed me back to the church where I set up my bed to go to sleep. It had gotten dark, but there was a little bit of light shining on where I would sleep. I wiped off some of the cobwebs and dead insects from the mattress pad, set up my backpack as a pillow and worked on falling asleep.
Apart from the dogs of the down, which barked and snarled and made sounds like they were devouring each other and small goats and children all night, I had a pretty comfortable night of sleep, and wasn't bothered by anyone. "Greece is going to be crazy," I thought to myself as I fell asleep.
16 September 2009