Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Beautiful beach road.

It rained my third morning biking so I was slow to get up and out. I had camped in a church yard. Greek Orthodox. I had, as usual, waited until dark the night before to set up my tent so I didn't see that the spot I had chosen was on quite a slope. In the night I had slid down and slept in a pile at the end of my tent. As a result my feet had been cold all night as they were pressed against the nylon of my tent and not centered in the nice, not so fluffy, toe box of my sleeping bag. I was cold, grumpy and it was raining. There happened to be a little building in the church yard with a covered porch so I got under its roof to avoid the rain. My feet were freezing, I was grateful for the shelter. I got out some toe warmers, shook them to get them going, put my crocks on, no socks, with the warmers under my toes. I had my crocks on because I wanted to keep my cycling shoes and socks dry, it is miserable cycling with cold wet feet. I made my coffee and had breakfast, sat around and looked at the gloomy weather but eventually I had to face the day. The rain had subsided, but the roads were wet and the air misty. I packed my stuff, got my bike and stood at the top of a hill and tried to decide between easy highway or beach road. Since it was my last few days in Greece I chose the beach. I started down, and man it was steep. So steep that I got off my bike and walked it down. Then the road turned into gravely mud and it sucked me down. It was all over me, my shoes, my bike, my panniers, my tires, all before I could say Chit. It accumulated in my frame so much so I could not push the bike. I had to clean the mud from the frame about every ten steps just so I could continue. I didn't want to walk back up that extremely steep slope to get out so I kept going forward. I could see asphalt ahead but it took me forever to get there. Once I got there I had to clean my bike and myself. The chain, the frame, my shoes were packed with gritty mud, I was packed with gritty mud. I went to the beach to get some water. I got on my hands and knees, put my feet in the air to keep them dry and crawled to the surf. I was stretched out washing my hands and reaching for the sea with my water bottle when the surf took the bottle right out of my hand. I let out a loud CHIT and started crawling fast along the beach . To no avail, the bottle drifted away to the right. I got up and ran for the bottle, grabbed it, jumped in the air and high stepped it out of the surf to avoid my feet getting wet, but in the midst of all that I accidentally threw the bottle near the surf again. I ran after it cursing . Got it again, high stepped it again and got out of the wet zone and safely to dry beach. I looked around to see if someone was watching and of course there was. An old, one-eyed woman up on her balcony held up her hands and said something, which I am pretty sure was " what the hell are you doing?" I held up my water bottle and yelled, "naru naru...( water)". She just walked back into her house. I stood on the beach breathing hard from my fiasco but glad my feet were still dry when she came out in the yard and motioned me over. She offered water from her hose and I accepted. I asked if I could rinse my bike "explaining " that the grit and mud were bad for the chain etc. She motioned to go ahead, so I spent some time cleaning the bike and myself , being careful to keep my feet dry. I put the hose away. She motioned me back over to the hose so I followed her. She grabbed the hose,turned it full on, turned around and blasted it on my shoes to clean them. Her one eye was pointing away, she had a big smile on, and her other eye shone with satisfaction, she was so happy to help. Chit. I said my efaristo's and headed down the road. My feet cold... and wet. I didn't get 20 meters before I noticed I had a flat front tire. Chit. I changed it, getting what mud was left on the tire all over my legs, hands and face. I started on my way again. I didn't get 50 meters until my view of the ocean was obscured by an olive grove. Well CHIT. Then I started up hill. Okay not such a good idea this beach road. About 3k down this beach road I met a guy who came up to me, very excited, and offered me a huge bottle of water and wanted to talk. He said he had seen me three days earlier on the Patras bridge. He was right I had been there. He told me that the site of my bike journey sent him into an evaluation of his life and that he had spent three days there on the beach camping and thinking about how he was living it. We had a great talk. We were both amazed we had met up again. We exchanged addresses, hugged and did the greek kiss on the cheek thing when I left. I had completely forgotten my feet were wet.


Anonymous said...

Hi Tracy,
"Best laid plans" don't always work out & good intentions don't either!!! You could write a book just about the lives you have touched & the changes made in thir lives & your own!!!
Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

I laughed picturing you chasing your water bottle & you said "of course someone was watching". I gasped when the lady sprayed down your shoes that you tried so hard to keep dry. Then my heart was touched & I got a big smile when you ran into the guy. Bet you never thought that total strangers would be impacted by your trek. Perfect synchronicity for the two of you to run into each other after he saw you on the bridge. Hopefully that connection made all the trials of the beach road worth it.

Anonymous said...

I wrote a big note, then forgot to sign who it was from. Note above is from Deb Baker

kelly said...

CHIT Tracy, that is funny!!