I slept until around 11 am, when I got up and said goodbye to Sami. I was still a little tired and my legs felt like they didn't want to function, but knew that I needed to start running. Chris, who had found my story on the Internet, had contacted me and offered to give me a place to stay with his family. This was like a grail that I was running to: a bed, a shower, a place to wash my clothes and some people who wouldn't think I was crazy.
As I stepped out the door, rain was trickling down, so I went underneath the cover of the church gallery and wrapped the contents of my backpack in my space blanket. I got some breakfast at a little cafe. By the time I had eaten, the rain had stopped, and I decided to walk for a little bit to let my food settle. I made a couple kilometers before I got bored and decided to run. I had been feeling tired, and it took some serious willpower to make myself start running. As I took my first couple steps, the space blanket started rustling in my bag...every step I took, another crinkling sound. It wasn't raining, and the sound was driving me nuts. I wanted to stop and put things back the way they normally are...but I didn't. The sound wasn't that bad...I just wanted an excuse to stop running. I forced myself through the sound, and before too long rain started pouring down and I was glad that my things would be kept dry. As the rain came down, I got on a short section of dirt roads that carried me into a little town. I grabbed a piece of clear plastic litter and wrapped up my phone to keep it dry. I was running shirtless in the pouring rain, past people with umbrellas and people in cars who were looking at me like I was crazy...and by some miracle, I felt good. There was no sounds bothering me, just the patter of rain on my skin and over twenty miles of mountain roads in front of me. Run Run Run. On a highway, on an empty mountain road, on a highway again. I put on my trash bag and just kept cruising. I passed a bus that had broken down, and the people repairing it and the people inside gave me some curious looks as I passed by. Cars honked at me. It was a good run.
When I thought I was about 30 minutes out of Levadia (in actuality only about 15), I started feeling hungry, and pulled into a rest stop to grab a candy bar and something to drink. The bus that had broken down arrived at the same time (this is probably 20 kilometers down the road), and once again I got some curious looks.
In Levadia, I called Chris and he came out of his house to meet me. I went up to his place and met his dad, and they set me up with a clean shirt so that I could take a shower and wash all of my clothes at once. The shower was amazing, and I felt clean for the first time in a few days as I donned his "Panathinaikos" (Greek soccer team) t-shirt. He had a chocolate milk waiting for me in the fridge. I can't express how good it all was. The days before had seriously worn me down.
Around 9 pm Chris took me out to get some Souvlaki (very good in Levadia) and a drink. I was wearing his brother's jeans, the t-shirt and a hoodie. Whenever we would run into another friend of Chris, he would say "show them the shirt," and I would unzip my hoodie and show them the clover logo of Panathinaikos. "Hey, Yeah!!!" It was like a magic friendship shirt for those who liked the team. We went with a group of people up to see a beautiful spring in the heart of the town before going to a club for a drink. As we walked I spoke with one of Chris' friends who is one of 13 children. The rest of the night, we kept bumping into people, and he would inform me "This is my brother"..."this is my brother."
Somewhere around 2 am we said our goodbyes and went back to go to sleep. I went out like a light.
28 September 2009