11 May, 2010

Dock Shoes

I try to go for a walk every evening while cruising in the Mediterranean. If one doesn’t you either get cabin fever or you get fat. Walking on the Greek island is more difficult than in say Turkey or even Italy because of the rocks and stones. The goats have eaten most of the vegetation. The stones have hard edges, the paths are strewn with them set to cut anything that stand on them. In my case to cut my dock shoes.

Yesterday I set off up a path on the mountain side of the island of Lefkas. On previous occasion we had anchored in Tranquil bay in the shadow of the mountain I had seen large lorries and cars appear to disappear into the mountain side. The road like most modern Greek road had been cut out of the mountain coming from the south to the town of Nadris. At one point the road disappeared but the rock cutting continued. I followed the cars as they drove down the road then disappeared never to be seen again. I speculated that the road entered a tunnel which came out the other side of the mountain close to the town’s centre.
I now had the chance to solve the puzzle of the vanishing vehicles. Donning my trusty dock shoes I set off up the path towards the road. It started to climb at quite a steep angle as I cane close to the disappearing road. Just one more turn and all would be revealed. What an anti climax. All the road did was take a sharp turn and run back on itself but at a lower level. It was screened by the bushes and trees. What appeared to be the tunnel entrance was in fact a hair pin bend. However a track led off from the apex of the bend and followed the contour of the mountain. I set off down this track which became narrower and narrower and more stone with every step. After about a kilometre it had degenerated into a goat trail clinging to the side of the mountain high above the bay. Soon even the goat trail petered out and I was faced with the decision of turning back or continuing hoping it would lead to some track down the mountain. Denny can attest that in fact there is no decision in these situations. It is always, there must be a way down if we continue.
At this point I started to realise why the road had taken the hairpin bend. The mountain was so steep that even the goats had given up making a track. What to do? Continue of course but my dock shoes where starting to feel the effects of the rocks and jagged stones. They were loosing their grip, first the left foot then the right. Was it my arm that contributed to my loss of balance or was it that I was out of practice.
After much effort on my hands and backside I managed to inch my way down the mountainside, the final stages over sheer rock face. I surprised an old lady tending her back garden as I appeared out of the brush at the base of the cliff face.
Once back on level ground I sat down to take the stones out of my shoes. I noticed why I had lost traction on the mountain side, my dock shoes had worn through. There was a large hole in the soles of my favorite walking shoes. Well it will be a new pair of shoes before I again set off up a Greek mountain track but maybe the next time in a pair of Australian elastic sided boots.

No comments: