First Day Off
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First Day Off
Yesterday was the volunteers' day off. I was told they were going to leave around noon, so at noon on the dot, I was sitting on the terrace, backpack packed and ready to go. Alone. Half an hour later, Mark came by with his breakfast.
Trying to play it cool, I asked casually, "So, when do you think we’ll get going?"
He answered, “Hmm, I don’t know exactly. That’s a good question. Jon is still asleep.” Haha, welcome to Greek time! Actually, the flexible interpretation of start times appeals to me since I hate to rush.
By two, everyone had trickled in to the porch area and we left to explore the northeast coast of Corfu. Towns nestled into the hillside among cypress and olive trees. Huge rocks jutted out from the coast and beaches were lined with turquoise borders of otherwise blue water.
Our day’s itinerary centered around geocaching. This tourists’ sport, developed in the U.S. (although I’d never heard of it), is basically a global treasure hunt. That sounds like a Jepordy question. Anyway, the goal is to find hidden boxes of “treasure” all over the world, using GPS coordinates and clues found on the geocaching website. By the end of the day, we’d hunted among the remains of an old fort and a monastery, explored some unnamed ruins near a lighthouse and passed a nudist beach that was totally swamped with mosquitoes. Bad combo.
The treasure boxes were plastic, roughly the size of a pencil case, and were stashed in walls and under rocks. Inside, were signed postcards, medal medallions that you can track online, tiny stuffed animals and toys. It was awesome. Can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before.
We visited two beaches today. The first had rocks instead of sand, mostly white, in sizes ranging from tiny pebbles to egg-sized. A dramatic peninsula of rocks and trees stuck out into the Ionian Sea like a pier, with a beach on either side. Forgoing these two manicured but also tourist-cluttered beaches, we made a slippery and at times treacherous climb across the rocks to a large are of flat, gently sloping rock that hung over the ocean. I was so glad I’d worn my Keens, since they gave me traction and protection on the rocks but also the freedom to walk in the water. For those of you unfamiliar with wonderful, if somewhat ugly sandals, look at: www.keenfootwear.com/
I’d say they’re essential for a place like Greece, where you’ll probably climb ruins and swim in the same day.
Ok, commercial over.
The climb ended at our own incredible, private beach! It was the perfect place for relaxing and getting some sun, but not great for swimming due to the sharp rocks sticking out of the water. So we eventually moved along to a beautiful sandy beach with views of the Albanian hillside and refreshingly cool water. As I floated on my back with no effort at all thanks to super salty water, it hit me that just two weeks ago I was swimming in Lake Wallenpaupack in northeast PA. Now, I was swimming in Greece with views of Albania. Life is so cool sometimes.
At the end of the day, the drive back to Villa Silva was all snaking, hairpin turns that hugged the coast and wound through olive groves. We drove through remote villages where small groups of men sat on their porches and women sold aperitifs at roadside stands.
Back at home, we had dinner and headed out to Captain George’s a bar down the street where everyone from the villa always goes. The bar is partially outside, with crazy memorabilia on the walls and orange and olive trees for decoration. An Easter bunny hangs above the bar opposite a poster from Gone with the Wind which has substituted Margaret Thatcher’s face for Scarlet O’Hara’s. There are pictures all over the place of Captain’s family and of Corfu. Off to the right, there’s a big TV where locals come to watch football (soccer) games.
Captain George is crazy and kind and so much fun to be around. His first words to us, after, “Hi, come sit,” were, “I was so f-ing busy today. Cruise ships!” Jon ducked behind the bar to get us beer and I knew I was going to love the place. By the end of the night, Captain had given us Greek dancing lessons, balanced glasses of beer on his head and ours, and taught me a few words of Greek. He gave Elmira and I a ride home on his motorbike.