Walk #4, with: Melody (born 1980) and Eddie (born 1985)
Where: Asomatos to Lambou Myli Roman viaduct and back, Lesbos
When: 2 March 2016
Melody and Eddie are a married couple from Leicester who I met while volunteering at The Hope Centre in the north of Lesbos, where they took an interest in my bicycle and we got chatting about travelling. I soon learned that M and E had also quit their jobs and rented out their home in order to travel and 'find themselves'. People typically put this phrase in inverted commas in a slightly mocking way, I suspect, but what could possibly be more important than finding your Self? And, as the three of us know, it's not always as much of a lark as it sounds!
Anyway, after chatting in person and online about travelling, volunteering, queerness/ identity, the meaning of life and other such trivialities, M and E invited me to come and stay for a night or two at their kitschy AirBnB place, as respite from camping in the olive grove behind a small chapel while working nightshifts at the unofficial Better Days for Moria refugee camp. It's possible they could actually smell me from the other side of the island where they were volunteering with The Starfish Foundation, took pity and decided to offer me the use of their shower and washing machine. They also offered to feed me. I thought long and hard and decided it would probably be rude not to accept their invitation.
I visited M and E's place on a night off volunteering. It was the first of March and having astained from alcohol for a month I was very much looking forward to sharing the Nemea wines I'd brought along.
The next day we decided to go for a walk, from Asomatos the mountain village where M and E were staying, downhill to the Roman viaduct at Lambou Myli and back up again. It was a wonderful, long walk, mostly through ancient olive groves resplendent with wild flowers and alive with the calls of great tits and other birds.
After a brief 'short cut' through an olive grove we found the steep, straight (probably Roman) cobbled 'road' running southwards downhill from Asomatos. We tried to imagine travelling along it in a cart. Mentioning my 40 walks idea got us talking about blogging. M told me she'd previously blogged about her experience growing up (and coming out) in a British Persian family, but after a while chose to take down her blog. She now blogs about travelling while agoraphobic (http://theagoraphobicadventurer.com/), but says she may take that blog down in due course too. I found myself wondering what might prompt me to take down my blog in the future, and we talked about the pros and cons of making ones 'journeys' so public. Eddie writes one of the best-named blogs ever (https://leavingleicester.wordpress.com/) and enjoys writing but sadly seems not to believe that she's good at it.
At a main road the others' iPhones helped us find the beginning of a fairly well signposted trail to Lambou Myli Roman aquaduct, which took us through more olive groves, past a few smallholdings and a tiny chapel, and eventually into a wooded valley. At the chapel we encountered a friendly old man, his dogs and donkeys. He unlocked the characteristically icon-heavy Orthodox chapel and lit an incense stick. I love that smell.
Seeing a team of large pigs reminded M and E of their 'pig cuddling day' at a farm in Shropshire. They've certainly tried their hands at an impressively wide range of experiences in the name of finding themSelves!
As we neared the aquaduct we stopped for a snack of crisps and chocolate, thoughtfully brought along by the others and marred only by the attentions of a particularly persistent mosquito.
After posing for a few silly selfies at the amazing, high aquaduct (which we supposed once took water from somewhere to somewhere else) we began to retrace our steps, now talking amongst other things about whether M and E are ready to settle back into any kind of 'normal life' or whether they have more adventuring to do. I found myself wondering how much time is 'enough' time to really wind down from work and other duties and allow oneself to relax into simply being. It was clear they were nowhere close to make a decision about what to do, though Eddie had already decided to go back home at least for a while. What I think first drew me to these two was their openness; it's a quality I increasingly look for in people.
Back up in Asomatos we were all starving but the old men's coffee house didn't have any food. We contemplated driving to a nearby town for souvlaki but in the end Melody whipped up an incredible corned beef hash instead!
After a few hours' sleep M and I got up again at about midnight to drive to Moria for the night-shift at Better Days. That was the night we went down to the beach at 3am and happened to see a boat of about 70 relieved Syrians landing safely, greeted by a crowd of eager, flourescent volunteers. But that's another story...
Thank you, Melody and Eddie, for hosting me and for this lovely walk. May it be the first of many we take together.