Monday, September 9, 2013

Greece - Corfu Ocean Views, Looking for Companionship

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38 miles - Wednesday, October 26

Dark clouds hang over the mainland, threatening to thicken the haze over Corfu, but we pedal to central Kerkyra, hoping to meet Bruce. Andy and I felt bad about not connecting the evening before.

However, he was not there. We head on a southerly loop of the island, winding in and out of village coves tucked high on dry hillsides. We'd hoped to swim in the aqua waters – a teasing distance away – but the road snakes onward, passing through more hamlets.

View from  Lakones village of Paleokastritsa, an agonizing descent for an ocean swim.
Photo credit: Zvezdatluliganjetta
There is a distinct contrast between touristy coastal communities and poorer inland places – the same as northern Corfu. Like southern Italy, trash litters highways. Farmers haul field clearings with donkeys and burn piles of brush. As we bend west, hills steepen. Faced with a 2-mile descent to sandy beaches, especially with all our belongings in tow only to have to climb the route later, it's an easy decision to fore go a swim. I'm too tired from yesterday's miles.

A square in Kerkyra. Photo credit: About Corfu

By 3:30 p.m. we meet Bruce again in the city. Andy and I adapt to our companion's traveling style: cooking a one pot meal in the central square. Curious, older women amble by, gesturing towards our simmering pots. We lift the lid, revealing a tomato garlic sauce. The ladies' wrinkled faces widen in smile, nod, and the kindly women move on. Andy and I are so used to eating alone that this public dining is at first uncomfortable, but I'm thankful for a change. It's not that far a stretch, I realize, to commune among the locals. Besides, a nearby public restroom provides ample water for clean up.

By 9 p.m. it's dark with stars replacing earlier clouds. We are eager to follow Bruce to his free camping spot. Bruce, however, cycles a confusing route, first checking at the waterfront for ferry times and cost. Then it's back to the main square. He leads again, this time Andy and I wonder if Bruce knows where he's going. For someone who's remained on the island many days, he is unable to navigate efficiently one mile to the ferry docks. He rides against the crowds, dodging scooter traffic, rolling through stop lights. We become distraught, unused to riding in darkness. By now, Bruce is far ahead. We lose him.

Andy and I stop along a high bluff. We admire the darkening ocean. Lights twinkle. We are out of our element, caught out late at night, unwilling to camp just anywhere. If Bruce knew where he was going, fine, but neither did he wait. Despite his crazy cycling, we didn't feel personally threatened. We'd seen it before. Lone travelers often make snap decisions, especially those on multi-month adventures. They are so used to being alone that when companions arise, they forget how to coexist. We'd also experienced the opposite: they are so starved for company they cling, letting others make all the decisions, becoming a follower until wearing out their welcome. Bruce was clearly a free thinker, content to be on his own.

Andy and I need to get some sleep before leaving on a morning boat. We return to the familiar hostel/campground. We decided to sleep without erecting our tent. We plan to arise early, slip out before the young woman returned to take care of the place. Save a few dollars.

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