Monday, May 30, 2011

No Stop Signs

I’ve lived in Chicago for nearly 6 years. At times, the overwhelming flatness of the place gets to me. It was nice when I was riding a bicycle everywhere, but it’s also just flat. No texture. That’s one of the things I miss most about Western Pennsylvania. Yeah, it’s hard to bike there, but at least there’s something other than unrelenting flatness.

I was not prepared for Santorini. We landed at the Port and waited in the garage with a bunch of scooters and trucks that had come with us, waiting to get off. The door lowered, the music played, and we were out and desperately looking for a guy holding a sign that had the name “White” on it. We found him eventually, a short, balding man holding a white piece of paper onto which “White” had been drawn in orange marker. He helped us into his van and started driving up the mountain, away from the port and towards Kamari, a resort town on the western coast where we’ll be living for the next few days. Before leaving, we picked up Myles’ Uncle Edward, who for the remainder of the trip will be referred to by everyone, related or not, as Uncle Eddie. The man can talk. I’ve never met someone so good at conversation. He’s got that ability (which I wish I had) to make the conversation about whoever he’s talking to.

I like Uncle Eddie.

The thing about Santorini (originally Thira, until the Venetians took it over after it had blown up a few times) is that it’s a volcanic island and has a lot more cliffs than I’m used to seeing. The ride from the port to our hotel in Kamari starts by climbing the mountain that’s next to the port via a steep road that has a number of 180° turns, because that’s how you make a road go down the side of a mountain.

The whole area is beautiful. A mix of low valleys with villages, large mostly barren peaks with nothing on them and a panoramic view of the Aegean. It has apparently no concept of stop signs, as the driver seems to just be flying through the island’s roads, slowing up a little when someone turns onto a street in front of him, but otherwise just driving as though there aren’t any other drivers. Which there aren’t, really. Santorini’s a tiny island with one main road and a bunch of little streets.

Our hotel is in Kamari (Καμαρι!) which is a little beach town that appears to be almost entirely tourism driven. We’re staying in some nice studios that connect to a pool and, as the owner of the hotel explains to us, there are some markets and restaurants in the area that we’re welcome to take advantage of, especially for buying water. I’m entirely used to a society where water and electricity are omnipresent. Electricity’s still around (though we do have a nifty little slot to put our key fob into in the room to make sure the electricity’s shut off if we’re not there), but the water, he tells us, is not so much drinkable. It’s good for showering, and should be fine for brushing our teeth, but he warns that drinking too much of it will make you “bubbly”, so we should buy bottled water (which is really cheap). Evidently, water was much more scarce at one time, but they’ve since added a desalinization plant, but not a purification plant. So we get some water, unpack our stuff and get ready for the welcome dinner, which will be in Oia (which is pronounced Iä, which means I don’t know how the Greek alphabet works).

More on Oia later.


Shari said...

What exactly does it mean to get "bubbly"? It sounds fun, but I'm guessing I am wrong.

Ryan-I'm loving all your posts!

-Murphy said...

In a perfect world, it'd be like that scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but I've got a sneaking suspicion it means "very ill."

We never chanced it.

Also, thank you!