Abandoning Paradise

Chapter Two     Leaving Greece

And So Begins the Adventure

I will leave in a few minutes for Patras where I will catch the ferry for Brindisi, Italy.  I'm leaving later than I anticipated but I'm also finding I have to abandon more than I had hoped.  So it goes.  I still leave Greece with very fond memories most especially of the Greek people who are the happiest people I have ever met.

No motor scooter was ever meant to carry this much stuff and the picture doesn’t even show all of it. There is a box on the back behind the guitar with even more stuff. Even for Greece this is overloaded and I've frequently seen scooters with three people on them.

There's only one thing to say at this point:  Arrivederci!

The big-rig trucks in the parking lot look tiny from the twelfth deck of the ferry. I was amazed to see how many of them they loaded onto the ferry. This ship is gigantic.

I’m bound for Ancona rather than Brindisi because I missed the earlier ferry. I’m not exactly sure where it is but the ticket girl said it’s not much farther north on the Italian coast.

Pulling away from Paradise.  It may well be that Greeks have a better understanding of life and human values than anyone else.  I can't know if that's final as the search continues but I do know they are the happiest people I have ever met, despite the situation of their economy.

I wasn’t exactly sad to leave as that's not even the right word. There wasn't so much a sense of melancholy but rather the feeling this may be the finest place you will ever see and the finest people you will ever meet. Now Greece is receding behind me and it may not be possible to ever get back.

Dawn on the Adriatic Sea

It was with some surprise that I saw it getting light outside as I wasn't sure if we had already docked at Igoumenitsa, the second Greek port after Patras before making the crossing to Italy.  Somehow I must have slept through it although how that happened in the wretchedly uncomfortable seat will remain a mystery.  Right now most are still sleeping and there are sleeping bags on every free space on the floor that isn't immediately needed as a path to somewhere.

The start from Katakolon was, I thought, within limits but that did not turn out to be so.  And there is a good reason for that as the speed I could make on the scooter was about what I had planned but it took much longer to get through Patras than I anticipated.  Getting there was one thing, getting to the port once I arrived was quite another.  It was dumb luck that I found it at all as I had been driving through Patras for some while and then took the Patras-C exit as I thought this could be the middle of the city.  That turned out to be a good guess as I stopped in a Shell station and the serviceman gave me further directions to the port.

You may have already guessed that I missed the boat to Brindisi and that would be a splendid analysis.  I had no option for spending twenty-four hours until the next one left so the only choice left was what's the next ferry out of here.  That turned out to be a trip to Ancona which the girl told me is a little bit north of Brindisi.  I asked about Bari and she said, oh yes, just a little bit north of Bari.  Since I didn't know where Ancona was but knew Bari and Brindisi weren't so far apart, I decided to take that ferry.

She also said, oh yes, there is WiFi on the ferry.

It turns out her estimation of things was a wee bit optimistic.  I had hoped to check in on the blog via WiFi from the ferry as this one would get to Italy quite a bit later than the one to Brindisi but that hasn't been possible as it does not have Internet capability.

It also turns out her estimation of 'a little bit north' was optimistic as well.  Ancona is about five hundred kilometers north of Brindisi and consequently about a thousand kilometers north of Catania where Mount Etna is located.

This presents something of a tactical dilemma as the scooter, loaded down as it is, has become more dangerous than it ever was.  I had not expected the weight of the guitar to so upset the balance of the scooter but that's how it went and it's incredibly dangerous to drive.  The question now is whether to abandon the volcano and simply continue north since I am so far north already.  From Ancona I won't be so much more distant from England than I will be from Catania.

What's logical to do right now is obvious.  But that means skipping the only volcano I'm ever likely to see in my life and missing the chance to dance with Cat on the slopes of it.  That sucks pretty ferociously but so does a two-thousand kilometer round trip to get there.  We shall see.

The Thrill Ride of My Life

Yesterday's ride was the all-time most dangerous stunt I have ever tried as the scooter is not only unbalanced but the extra packed on it makes it act like more of a sail than ever. The wind will cheerfully blow it off the road.  When it's a one and a half lane road shared with big trucks, you've got the makings of a thrill ride you will absolutely never forget.  I was running at about seventy to seventy-five kilometers but the trucks were going at about one hundred so that made for a backwash from them that could have done an Atlantic hurricane proud.

There was an extra tingle from shrubs growing alongside the side of the road as the only way to avoid traffic is to stay far to the right but that meant often whacking the shrubs with the load on the back. Good-bye to my beloved down pillows that I’ve kept with me ever since I first went on the road about five years ago.

The reason for the unbalance is the guitar case as the body on one side of the case is much heavier than the neck and head of it on the other.  I've said sometimes how my shoulder will be sore after a gig and that's why, it really is a heavy guitar.  Even so, it's not as bad as a Les Paul as they must put lead shot inside those damn things.

The additional entertainment of the packing is that it goes too far forward and that puts me in a highly awkward riding position.  All the way down the road my cojones were telling me what a bastard I was for treating them so badly but I told them to shut up as I wasn't enjoying it much either.  As soon as I can get somewhere stable, I'll certainly be tearing it down again to see what else I can do.

While it doesn't really make any difference how long it takes to get to England, I'm leaning more toward just doing it as there is dangerous which is often fun and then there is plain stupid which often results in dead people, namely me.

There will be time for thinking more on this when I get to Ancona as it will be about 18:00 so that will be too late to take on very much traveling and I will be looking right away for somewhere to sleep.  The first thing will be to find WiFi so I can break my radio silence and let you know I am not a dead people already.

There's Always the Option to Back Out

In any situation one can turn chicken and back out.  If I were to turn about and go back to Greece, it wouldn't be any more dangerous than anything I have already done and perhaps give the option of trying again after rethinking things.  However, that would mean several hundred euros having disappeared without so much as the remnants of pile of well-smoked joints to show for it.

Taking that option would mean going back to Pyrgos and taking Harry up on his offer of an apartment in Pyrgos to ride out the summer.  Good science means considering all options and this one is available until I pull away from the coast in Italy.  Therefore I will hang about in Anacona at least for the night before deciding what to do.

This may be the time to return to my own song, "On the Road with a Mouse and a Chicken," in which the mouse is useless because I can never find it and listening to the chicken is never a good idea or you would never go on the road in the first place. In case it’s not obvious, the mouse is a reference to the computer which has featured substantially in my music for quite a few years but I have no idea why chickens are associated with lack of courage.

The video was recorded in 2009 prior to a concert in Cincinnati. I was on the road then and I'm still on it.

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