I turned my handlebars and set adrift over the quiet twists of pavement along the Aegean sea. I followed a set of lonely railroad tracks that brimmed with wildflowers and spilled their brightly-colored hues into the marble-blue sea.
The air was warm and predictable, and at any point, I could cast my eyes 50 miles across the water, and pull sweet inspiration from a succession of snow studded peaks thundering out of the ocean like Poseidon above the sea.
I pedaled through the Grecian hamlets of Lambiri, Longos, Elenas, and Paralia Porovitsas. As I passed through the towns, the scene was almost always the same.
Greeks milling about their olive orchards, eyeing fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses, or greeting each other with a kind of unbridled enthusiasm. In Elenas, I stepped into a cafe where little old men wearing nautical hats clustered around coffee tables, sipping Iraki, coffee or Ouzo. As I walked in, a low rumble seemed to sway the single white strands of their cigarettes into a collective smokey-haze.
“Yah!” (Hello!) a man hurled at me, then got up, and placed a welcoming hand on my shoulder. With that he let loose with a burst of linguistics that made about as much sense to my ear as the sound of boiling water.
My response was always the same. First a long, dull, opened-mouth stare. Then as a crowd usually gathered, they would wait for my reply as it descended from my brain like the last drop of molasses out of an empty bottle. Some readied their combs for what looked to be an oncoming seizure.