Somehow with occasionally waking up to rearrange myself, I managed to stay in the car until almost 11 am. From there I went to a nearby bakery where I got some delicious spanakopita for breakfast. I spent some time in the town waking up, brushing my teeth in a public fountain, using the Internet, and seeing people I had seen the day before. I think it was around two or three pm when I finally made it out of town.
The first 15 km were all uphill, and I peaked the Katara right as a huge downpour hit. Turns out my Wikipedia information for the height of the pass was incorrect. According to the sign it was only a mile high.
I donned my trash bag and kept running down the hill as the rain fell off and on. It was mostly a light rain, and as the rain chilled my forearms the sensation brought me back to many good memories of running in the rain.
I got into the town of Panagia after about 30 km of running, and stopped in to see what I could see. It was 70 km from Metsovo to Kalambaka, and I had the option of either stopping in Panagia or doing another ten kilometers to Trygona. There wasn't much in the small village, and I ended up falling asleep for a short while near the church before heading over to a "place" to find something to eat. I use the word "place" because in the small villages here, the restaurants aren't really restaurants, they are kind of like a community center, a cafe, a bar, and a kitchen all in one. Anyways, there I got some food which might have had something to do with the head of a cow from what the guy was gesturing to me and had a good amount of bread and feta. I didn't think I was going to have much luck in this town, so I decided to head on to Trygona.
At this point, it was the early evening, and I was planning on walking the ten kilometers or so as my food settled. My legs were also not feeling incredibly fresh. I walked and walked, and as a light rain began to fall, I put my trash bag back on. A car or two stopped to give me a ride, and I had to wave them away. I really hate walking for this reason. People always think you want a ride, even if you aren't on their side of the road and walking with your thumb out. I guess it is nice of them.
Well, somewhere the sun began to set and some clouds began to form in the sky, and when I turned around to see a red mass of clouds, I decided that I should probably just toughen up and run a few more kilometers. I packed up my pants and jacket, and ran with my trash bag...it seemed like an eternity to Trygona, and it got dark along the way. It also started to thunder, and the rain was falling like crazy. I felt crazy. I was soaking wet, running in the dark, lightning was crashing down and cars were speeding by. I had no idea how far I was from Trygona (the town wasn't listed on my phone maps) and I had no place to sleep when I got there.
Eventually, I rounded a corner and saw the lights of the town. I smiled as I swept the floods of water from my face and stopped in the first (and only) "place" that I saw. I took off my trash bag, walked past the tables of villagers and ordered a bottle of water (like I hadn't had enough). I must have been a strange sight, and I just kind of sat there and looked down at myself. I was soaking wet. Once again I thought to myself, "what the f@#$ am I doing here?!" It seemed like everyone else in the place was thinking the same thing.
One of the tables tried to ask me where I was coming from, and if I was on a bicycle. Nope, no bicycle. I tried to show them the route on my shirt, but it was soaking wet and the black one isn't quite so clear. I took out my little laminated card and gave it a shot for the first time.
One of them goes off for a couple minutes.
I am sitting there looking (and feeling) dumb. Soaking wet.
One of them says: "Ok, come...schlafen."
I instantly feel ten times better.
The online translation made enough sense I guess. Thanks to my friend Nick for laying out that card for me...
Anyways, I got in the car, and we drove a few hundred meters to their house. The evening was spent getting over language barriers and getting rested in a wonderful home. The mother spoke German, as many people here do (a huge portion of the population went there for work in the mid twentieth century), so I primarily spoke with her. She showed me photos of her family, and matched the photos of children with her three grown daughters who were visiting from Athens. Whenever one of them wanted to know anything, they would call up a daughter or a friend who spoke English, and I would speak into the phone, and then pass it back for the translation. It was a lot of fun. I took a shower, and had a huge meal of homemade food (every time I thought I was done they would put more on my plate. "Essen!"). We watched Greece win in basketball over Turkey and last but not least, I fell asleep in a bed. Some good luck and good hospitality at the end of a very wet day.
19 September 2009