Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day 27: Chess Win; Certain Death on a Bike

Strong winds continue. Gusts to 45 mph. No wonder this island has only low shrubs and dirt. Most everything else has already been blown into the water.

I beat each of the German guys at the windsurfing center in chess. Both games were close. I take quiet pride in defeating them as they can both outwindsurf me -- one of them only learned a week ago.

Returning Rental Bike:

I have to return my mountain bike tonight. When I rode out to the hotel last week, I was on the side of the rode next to the mountains. Tonight I will be riding on the side next to the cliffs.

As I'm riding an peering over the 30- to 40- foot drop off on the side of the road, my fear of heights is activated.
- there are no guard rails
- there are no warning signs
- apparently, there is no Greek words for "no soft shoulder" or "falling over the edge will lead to certain death."
- there are no lights and it is getting dark.
- at least there is a full moon, so the authorities will be able to find my remains and return my bike before I get charged for an extra day

Fear turns out to be good for my cardiovascular system and I make it into town (9 miles) in 41 minutes. It took me 55 minutes to get out here. (However, I was wearing my 35-pound pack)

Nostalgic Experience #1: Cursing Waiter

I drop off my bike and go for dinner in Pighadia, the major town on Karpathos. After perusing the menu, I ask the waiter for an authentic Karpathos dining experience. "That's bullshit." he says. "There's no such thing, man. I'll tell you what to get." A rude waiter who grew up on the East Coast of the U.S. I want to get up and hug him. This is the first normal conversation I've had in over a week.

The Greeks and Germans I've met are nice enough, but there English is marginal. It's like I've been talking to third graders for 8 days. I also notice that my English ïs starting to deteriorate. I've started saying things like "the wind is not so very much good today."

Nostalgic Experience #2: Cab Ride
After dinner, I need to call a cab. My cell phone doesn't work out here. (actually, the $200 I've spent on setting it up for international calls has not been the best investment.) I buy a phone card. I can't figure out how to get it to work. I ask the guy who sold me the card to call me a cab.

The car arrives in minutes. There are two thugs in the car: the driver and a friend of his. I get in the car. Once we hit the mountainous, windy sections of road, the driver starts straddling both lanes. He starts talking on his cell phone. With the phone cradled between his neck and ear, he yells into the receiver in a language I don't understand. He must have been trained in Boston.

3:30 am Bug Attack:

The wind dies down and the buzzy mosquitos are back. I put on a bandana I purchased that has been treated with a bug repellent. I wear it babushka style and get back in bed. The mosquitos are unfazed.

I put on bug repellent with 30 percent DEET. Repellent has all kinds of scary warnings about getting it in your eyes, ears. It also recommends against sniffing it and putting it on your reproductive organs. Anything with that many warnings should work. It doesn't. Three hours of bug-infested, DEET-fumed, sleep. Surprisingly, I have no mosquito bites in the morning.