Thursday, April 23, 2015


"For all the law is fulfilled in one word in the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another ".
Galatians 5: 14-15.

October 1809. A young English aristocrat tries to find shelter in the middle of a terrible storm that looms over the Pindos Mountains, northwest of Greece. Not long ago, when he still had the money to pay for his studies at the University of Cambridge, he would play with the monkey he had brought as a roommate. One day he confessed to the animal that he was planning to make a grand tour of the Mediterranean and it looked at him strangely. He thought he understood from the look of his little friend that it would not be an easy trip, let alone for a lame man, but he was encouraged by the idea that misfortune could be a source of inspiration for his poetry. Lord Byron wandered Spain, Portugal, Malta and Albania before getting lost near the Monastery of Zitsa. The poem that emerged from that storm two hundred years later rests on a marble plaque. Dave has brought us here on our walk with Tsarli, Anna and Kostas´ dog.

Super nicest meal ever: popcorn, sunflowers seeds and cous-cous, the only things we had in our panniers.

Anna is the owner of the first bookstore in Zitsa in the eight centuries of history of the village and Kostas, her husband is responsible for creating pure magic at the bakery. They are the protagonists of a beautiful love story in which a young American lawyer came to Europe on vacation with her ​​sister and both did ​​couchsurfing at Kostas´ home. Her sister continued her trip, but Anna didn´t have enough with one night in Zitsa, so she repeated the experience before returning to the United States. During the following months the friendship that was born between them took root and was transformed into something else until one day Anna took a suitcase, changed juries for flour and became happy with the person she loved. They did not forget to share their love for others and continued to open their home to hundreds of travelers. One was Dave, a Briton who describes himself as a vagabond cook. His initial plan was to walk over six years to reach India in a long journey to discover himself.  However distant the fate, if not complemented by an inner journey it only serves to fill a photo album. He came from northern Italy and crossed to Greece by ferry, where he was captivated by the landscapes and people. So much so, that he has spent more than a year walking Hellenic lands.

 We leave Tsarli at home and go to Anna´s bookshop, which is a social center dedicated to reading. Dave plays host and prepares us some tea. We sit near a copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls translated into Greek. At that moment a young Greek woman enters and suddenly Dave starts speaking in Greek to her. The questions are always: why do you do it? Why do you walk instead of riding a bike? How do you manage with the money? Where do you sleep? What's in your backpack? Dave begins to answer one by one the questions that he has heard so often and at the same time it satisfies the curiosity of woman, it also makes us want to continue our journey on foot.

Our new luggage.

Although it is obvious, walking is slower than cycling, which means that you do not miss a single opportunity to talk to someone who is interested in your story along the way. Most people understand the need of a walker and feel the uncontrollable desire to help. Dave tells us that at the beginning of his journey he ate with not a modest budget at all, but as was entering the roads of Greece, the budget was eventually reduced to zero, since most of the day people treated him to meals, gave him bread or fruit (nowadays he is in Turkey, where not only is he treated to meals every day, but after several weeks he has not yet had the opportunity to sleep in his tent). He enjoys giving work, although he does not accept cash. Once, one of his adoptive families gave him a pair of boots for the harsh winter. For sleeping he carries a small tent. Small Orthodox monasteries and churches in the Greek mountains often offer a warmer and drier shelter than the forest. This cook with his crazy ideas freely roams the world, in the broadest sense that can be understood for freedom.

Having a little backpack  is not a problem.

Soon we will be ready to continue our trip as my hand is recovering after the serious fall in Albania. Having tried all the conventional and natural remedies, we find a silver bullet making a mixture of olive oil, garlic, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, to apply regularly every time we remember. In a few weeks, thanks to the generosity of Anna and Kostas, we store our bikes and prepare our backpacks. We fill up with the best trajanás of Greece, and without really knowing what we are doing, we set off later rather than sooner. Sometimes we think that the seams of small bags will burst, but they don´t. For the occasion, Gabi wears for the first time the sandals that Dave gave him since he has received another pair by mail, replacing the restitched and well-treaded sandals we bought in Chamonix. You should stop buying things.

We were still happy.

The excitement lasts us approximately four kilometers, just to get to the next village, Protopappas, where we stop to eat some cookies. Taking off my boots I find the first blisters and my shoulders and back start to suffer. It´s just a matter of getting used to it, we repeat. After all, we've seen a lot of people going through the same thing when we made ​​our way from Santiago by bike a few years ago. We continue walking a good while longer, we fumble with our four newly learned words in Greek with elderly people who are on the roads and when we find a clearing in a nearby forest, we collapse, exhausted. We have calculated walking about thirty kilometers a day, but today is the first day and we should not overdo it, so we do twenty. However, we realize that we are just seven kilometers from the point where we started. Dave´s viral outburst led us to consider the idea of touring all of  Greece walking, but in a moment of common sense we decided to try a smaller route, wandering to Meteora and back again to Zitsa; which, according to Dave, would take us a couple of weeks. Before we wanted to visit Vikos Gorge River, the deepest in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. But nothing is as simple as we thought.

Sleeping in the middle of the town.

Probably the biggest problem we have is that we are in the Natural Park of Zagoria, in the heart of Epirus, in low season. I do not remember who told us that in some Asian countries that a traveler´s budget is drastically reduced, not because the products are cheap, but because they can´t find shops where to spend money. Something like that happens to us. Obviously, the backpacks cannot hold as much food as the saddlebags on our bikes, so when we leave Zitsa, we fill up with our two staples: rice and cabbage. Our idea was to live for today and to buy when we were to cook so as not to carry around unnecessary weight. The first day we are lucky because we find a bakery /Post Office -  and when we are about to leave a truck selling oranges appears. We drag our feet to him as deservedly as we possibly can, warming the heart of a man who is also buying oranges. After giving us a whole bag (not yet did we know it would be our only food the next few days, making ingenious combinations with the little rice and cabbage we have left), he treats us to coffee, fried eggs and a few glasses of ouzo.

Yamas! (Cheers!)

With him we begin the political discussion season in Greece with the people we meet on the street, on the road or in the country. Everyone begins with the same question: "Germans?" but immediately relax when we say no, Spanish. They laugh, they toast us and consider us their equals, one Mediterranean town twinned by similar habits, a peculiar rhythm of doing things and a huge heart. Everyone has his own theory about the crisis. Sitting on a curb, after finding out where we come from, a man comes up to us to ask:
-          ¿Merkel or Podemos?
In a family tavern, something like Basque gastronomic societies, five men get drunk while waiting, like us, for it to stop raining. We are invited to go inside and warm up with shots of tsipouro. One of them asks us about "O Rajoy". After shooting off from his mouth a bunch of things that we fail to understand, he says, simplifying:
-          Ο Ραχoι, στην Ελλάδα ...
Meaning that "Rajoy, in Greece" and then takes a knife and passes it through his neck. At that time we are happy to know that the Greeks distinguish between the government of a country and the people who inhabit it.

Spring!!! Sometimes...

We find the same drama in rural areas as in Spain: aged people, the extension of single crop farming and the oil emporium. But it is in cities where one can see more severely the impact of the economic situation: society, garbage, misery, people sleeping in tents inside one of many dealerships closed... if someone wants to come and see ruins, the vast majority do not go back to classical Greece. Many young people, most hopeless with this government almost the same way as with the old one, decide to flee the city and seek the only possible solution to this global crisis: return to the country, working the land toward self-sufficiency, changing abundance for quality, sacrificing comfort for humble honesty; in short, living in a cooperative world rather than a competitive one. Konstantina left everything he had in Athens to return to his village after his father left him an old house in inheritance. He reformed both the house and the small home garden and now lives with his ​​partner off of craft making, jewelry designing and macrame. They are skeptical about the future of the Mediterranean countries:
-          Your Tsipras - he says referring to Pablo Iglesias -is he a bastard like Tsipras or like Samarás?
We ask if they are unhappy with the results of the recent elections, but they tell us that the only solution is revolution. But not an incendiary and destructive movement like the Agora of Athens, but a revolution in thinking, a return to nature and ecology, a brake on consumer capitalism that destroys everything it touches, that ruins our waters, destroys our soils, devours our forests and pushes man into the abyss of individualism and absolute solitude, whose ultimate expression is to look for in the companionship of a pet the love he misses of his own species.

Who said that Greece was completly dry?

We continue dragging our feet along back roads to get to the information center of the National Park. There we rest for the two hours that we spend with the person in charge of helping the few tourists who pass through there in winter. He shows us albums, talks about the wildlife in the Pindo mountains, the medieval bridge in his village, the canyon of Vikos River, where to sleep, again the bridge in his village ... Everything more than correct, except for the fact that the man did not think to check the weather forecast before recommending the route of the canyon (which appears in all the guides as difficult and not advisable at least until May). The sky turns overcast and the clouds descend. But we ascend, we need to keep walking until we find somewhere to find a bit of bread. All the shops, hotels and restaurants are closed until the weather gets better and the villages seem abandoned.  It's cold, but few fireplaces are in use. We arrive at Vitsa, the second to the last village in the valley before reaching the canyon. We think that there may be a store in Monodendri, a few kilometers away, but we run out of energy, it´s raining and cold. We set up the tent in the center of town, next to the church, but no one must be surprised because no one comes to see us. We dine very frugally: coleslaw, rice and oranges, emptying our bag of food. In the morning rain and fog have covered the hill. While we share the last orange that remains we tie a few pieces of cloth from the tent that Dave gave us to cover our backpacks and make ​​the decision without discussing it too much, that we are going back. No sense going into the canyon if the fog prevents us from seeing the landscape, plus there is a risk of flooding or landslides. Our feet hurt us and our backpacks weigh us down. We never got cold while bicycling because the exercise was of moderate intensity that allowed us to warm up easily, but now we wear all the clothes we have and the cold has chilled us to the bone.

Not only do we have it clear that we are going back, but also we are going to do it hitchhiking. After four days of walking we are a little more than 40 km from Zitsa. A couple of cars bring us back to our bikes. Halfway, a delivery truck stops: he has recognized us as friends of Kostas and offers to take our backpacks to the bakery. We accept without thinking too much about the consequences, so we spend half a day walking without being able to drink water because we forgot to take a bottle. We realize that without a backpack things change, we move lightly and enjoy the walk.

This is the way we like it!
Winter at morning.
My hand is much better, so now it´s my feet´s turn. Meanwhile in Zitsa we help with the bookshop, the decoration of the bakery and a small garden. But we miss the moderate speed of our bikes, filling the saddlebags with food and not worrying, travelling light and no pain whatsoever. Yes, this is more comfortable.

Acheron River, Gates of Hades.

We have contacted the owners of a farm in the northern Peloponnese through Workaway to work a few weeks with them in exchange for food and lodging. We could take the national road that runs through a quiet valley, but instead take a zigzag path that brings us back to the mountains. The first day we stop to have lunch in the lovely village of Epirus, but once again a man invites us to eat with him. It will be the first of a long list of Greeks who disapprove of our route considering it a waste of time and too many ups and downs too. But what can we do, we know deep inside that the time spent is actually time gained. The second day we repeat and stop in the little square of a village to eat some oranges and rest. A woman approaches us and asks us if we come from France. She invites us to her house to have a second breakfast and tells us that at first she had confused us with some friends, a French couple who also went through there last year with the intention of going around the world by bicycle (we are not very original) . Konstantina and Stefanos comply with the rule that says "small house, big heart", we spend the morning with them and when we leave they refill the saddlebags with freshly baked bread, cookies, oranges, lemons and a jar of their own olives. They also give us a pair of bracelets, they say, lest we forget them.

Konstantina and Stefanos.

We camp for the umpteenth time in an olive grove, but good weather is reluctant to arrive and in the morning and we pick up in time to prevent what seems a tremendous summer storm soaking us completely. We stop on the porch of a church with the hope that the cloud passes, but instead of leaving, what it does is multiply. We lose track of the days it rains incessantly, but we have an appointment in the Peloponnese. We've got to get used to pedaling under water (low clouds offer wonderful shows that are often worthy of being photographed), but the wind continues to hurt us. Several times when we are going up the mountains we have to put our foot on the ground because of the intensity of some bursts of wind, and the risk increases when we begin the descent. I do not know if it´s the insecurity of pedaling against the wind or because I lose sight of Gabi for what seems like an eternity to me, but old ghosts of the past reemerge and I panic. I feel an irrational fear of falling, getting lost, and losing Gabi. Anxiety penetrates the muscles of my arms and legs and I can just barely continue going up the mountain. I cannot stop crying but I keep pedaling because after nearly a year of travel I know no one will do that job for me. However, my panic attack has already exploded and when I finally reach Gabi I do so brandishing a cry of reproach. I blame him for my problems, say that he should have waited for me, it was dangerous to go so fast down that slope, I'm afraid, I feel weak, I cannot stand the wind, I'm drenched ... and all that he says is:

-          You want half an orange?

Do I want to eat oranges? What now? My panic gives way to anger. But what an insensitive man I have for a husband? But why not give me a hug instead of offering me oranges? And the fact is that I want one, but I will not eat it, I prefer to feed my anger until I am satisfied. The uphill ride helps me to calm down, I concentrate on breathing and meditating about the ridiculous situation we have just experienced. I tell Gabi that now I want the half an orange and thus we make peace.

We reconcile with the weather and enjoy the scenery veiled by clouds. We eat in a narrow bus stop, but that still leaves us cold, in the literal sense of the term. After several days of heavy rain no rain jacket is any good, and all our clothing is completely soaked. Gabi does not stop shivering, so we decided to end the day as we see on the horizon a church porch, sheltered from the wind and rain (which won´t give us truce the next day either).

Crossing the bridge of Patra, fighting against the elements.

We go down to sea level and when we think the worst is over we still have to cross The Bridge. We have crossed many bridges, but the bridge between Rio and Antirrio becomes a test of resistance against the wind for four long kilometers of pushing our bikes. The funny thing is that there is a toll bridge "accessible" to bikes ... at the end of a narrow metal ladder of three stories. All together it means two hours to unpack, upload bikes and walk beside them wobbled by the fresh sea breeze. Of course, as we crossed to Peloponnese, the weather changes drastically: the sun comes out, the wind lessens and the temperatures rise. We stop to eat some olives in a square in the city of Patras and let our arms feel the caress of the sun for the first time this year. We are so happy that we even forget to stop to eat and without wishing to set a precedent take the road that runs along the coast. A car makes signs to us and we stop in the shade of some trees. A journalist, who has read the sign that we have on our bikes, gets out. Since he likes our story he interviews us for the radio and we record a video in which we explain in Greek! What we are doing:

Just a kilometer before taking the detour to the mountains that will take us to the farm of Amaliada, once again a car beckons us to stop. A blond woman with a braid falling over her right shoulder and a smile from ear to ear gets out. She asks us if we are looking for a place to stay. At first we are are suspicious because sometimes we have been asked the same question and then offered a supposedly cheap room in a hostel. But Christine goes on:
-          Come on! My husband will open the house, we are going to prepare a meal, you can do laundry and have a warm shower! Look at those clouds, it´s going to begin to rain at any moment.
The Manetas, our adoptive family.

We talk a little longer with them. Christine, American, and her husband, Michalis, have a nice house in a tiny village about an hour from where we stand chatting. It is not exactly on the way to the farm, but do not want to miss such a tempting offer. The trouble is that the clouds that Christine spoke of reach us quickly and unload with fury. We take shelter for a while under a ledge while rivers of dirty water, cans and bags of chips run through the streets of Kato Ajaia. Luckily this time it is only one cloud, so that we can continue our way without getting wetter than necessary.

When we get to Christine and Michalis´ house we not want to leave. They are one of the best and most hospitable couples we have met on this trip. And this woman from Chicago knows a lot about the plight of the traveler. Before falling in love with Michalis, she was a missionary for 17 years throughout the United States, and after that spent three years preaching in Caucasus. She lived on charity, voluntary donations, open to anyone who would host her at home and listen to what she wanted to convey, which is nothing but the pure and simple word of Christ. Christine and Michalis met because they belonged to a group that shares the same faith, in a manner similar to the development of early Christianity: they do without the structure of the Church, there are no priests, no religious symbols, they do not celebrate Christmas, do not bless you if you sneeze, they don´t have pictures of virgins and crucifixes. Instead of going to church regularly they meet in private homes where they read a chapter from the Bible and everyone transmits his own impressions and interpretations. Perhaps more amazing is that there is complete agreement between their attitude and their thinking. They give without expecting anything in return, because all they have is a gift from God, and therefore not theirs. At present they are expanding their home, not to make it more modern and more spacious, but to add three guest rooms, as these can come at any time. Two years ago the family expanded with the arrival of small Kostas, who is the most helpful, happy and independent child I have ever met.


For tomorrow the weather forecast predicts a very strong storm, so Christine asks us to stay another night with them. While we eat, lightning strikes the house and we are without phone or internet. Afternoon and overnight clouds fall upon us as rain and hail. Finally, the storm passes and the sky opens again. We say goodbye to the Manetas family, who gives us a bottle of their excellent olive oil, with the intuition that we will meet again soon.
We do not mind having had to do two days in in one in order to stay one more day with the Manetas and be on time to Amaliada.  But after sharing a few hours with these good people the impact of meeting the Kotsifas was stronger. We should have become suspicious when it was necessary to write three messages asking them to give us their address in order to get to the farm because they did not answer, and when they did, we were told we could take a taxi in the city. I find it hard to believe that they are interested in getting to know us if they have not even read our profile. The message we sent them was that we travel by bike. But it was even more suspicious when we finally got to their house and were offered a glass of wine, the mother disappeared from sight and Georgos, the father continued watching TV and discussing the news and asking us questions, often repeated because he had not paid attention to the answer.

The first day they treated us pretty well, we were invited to their house for lunch and dinner and, although we were told not to work on Sundays, they gave us the tools to clear a path. Volunteers are accommodated in a straw house that Georgos built without much care, as the windows and doors ( acquired second hand or found in the garbage) are disjointed and many do not close or have knobs. The walls are crumbling down, in addition to humidity problems at the base. The floor is unfinished, the pipes are clogged, the water is cloudy and there´s no hot water "because a volunteer broke the heater last year," Jennifer, the mother said. We have a small kitchen, but it´s a botched job with duct tape that does not prevent gas leaking from the regulator. We are not allowed to use the shower in the house, so we have to warm up muddy water on the stove that loses gas to shower with our bike water bottles, splashing the moldy walls of the bathroom and putting up with the stink that comes out of clogged sewer, groping around because we they do not want to give a bulb to illuminate more than a candle from Ikea. Conditions, on the other hand, we would not have minded if they'd warned us beforehand, or if the person responsible for providing these luxuries were not the owner of a hotel on the island of Santorini. But that was something else that we did not know when we contacted them.

We decide to stay with the family for a couple of weeks because their profile said that they lived according to the principles of permaculture, that they tried to be self-sufficient and there were pictures of goats (after the farm in Slovakia I wanted to learn more about cheese making). However, when we got there, these nature lovers had their dogs chained day and night to a couple of trees, with a barrel of plastic for shelter. They raised turkeys and chickens supposedly ecologically but the hens didn´t even have a place to sleep, let alone to nest (the only one that laid eggs did it on our tent which we had left out to air). During the time we were there, foxes ate two turkeys that were nesting in the bushes, simply because the dogs could not do their job. Regarding self-sufficiency, there was not even a small vegetable garden, everything came straight from the nearest supermarket (they didn´t even buy local produce, all very consistent with what we had been led to understand). The goats from the photo had sold because caring for them was, they told us, too much work. They also had some fruit trees, but Georgos resisted the advice of Gabi, (something he has studied and worked at for four years at garden centers) to cut and burn the branches populated by worms to save what remained healthy.

Gabi, happy, feeding the chickens.

For a week, our job was to prune some olive trees that the first day they said were very productive, and the last confessed that they had not produced olives in recent years. Georgos was in charge of our training: Gabi was told to look for a video on YouTube about pruning olive trees, and ten minutes later he felt like the protagonist of The Matrix, "I know how to prune". Without quite knowing why, I was not allowed to see the miraculous video, so Gabi had to explain it to me later. For our task we were given two dull shears and a chainsaw with a broken brake and a melted cable.

The agreement we had reached was to work between four and five hours on weekdays. While acknowledging that they never pressured us with that schedule, it must be said that in the morning we fulfilled those hours and in the evening they told me to give two hours of Spanish class to the girls of the house, which I did happily until, little by little, we stopped seeing the girls. Then one afternoon the older one confessed that her mother would not let them have class. Gabi was only allowed to play with them the day we arrived; after that they must have seen him as a sexual predator.

After two days of being there we were told that it had been a long ago since they had gone on vacation, three months already, so they planned to leave the following week, if we agreed to stay in charge of the evicted chickens and dogs inmates. We agreed because we had committed to spend a fortnight and that after this farm we didn´t have any other one to go to. For a week we tried to get them to let us use internet. Finally, one afternoon, they let us sit by a window (apparently now we were not allowed to enter the mansion) to catch a wave that passed by, so we had fun watching for forty minutes how our mail page was loaded. Unable to find another farm or Warmshowers under these conditions, we had to wait for another occasion. For a couple of evenings they played with our feelings, inviting us to have a glass of wine, but when we went, it was either too early or too late. On Saturday, supposedly a day off, we went to beg ten minutes of internet connection. But Georgos glared at Gabriel, and told him that we had to work four hours that morning if we wanted to use internet. And since we are fools we did, but we did not ask again for internet. Instead we took our bikes and went to look for some wireless network open in Amaliada, approximately 6 km from the farm.

Although the worst experience certainly was when they decided to adopt a puppy on a whim of the girls, having two others bored stiff chained to the tree. The girls appeared with a puppy in their arms that seemed too small. The mother asked if we would take care of the dog while they were away, and I said we would if the dog was already old enough to eat alone and fend for himself. Claiming to be expert dog breeders (they were proud that their chained up dog had given birth fifty times), she assured me it was at least a couple of months old. During the return trip, the father had fun scaring a gypsy pretending he wanted to run over her over with the car.

When we arrived at the farm they put the dog in our arms and told us that when he was hungry to go up to the house for milk. The girls never came down to see him.

Making friends.

We took the dog, which looked more like a chubby pig, and left him on the ground next to our straw house. The animal dragged his stomach along the ground. If he couldn´t even walk I found it hard to think that he could eat by itself. We put a little water in the bowl, but he neither knew what that liquid was or what to do with it. We picked him up and went up to the mansion to tell them what the situation was and ask for milk when he got hungry. The woman came to the door, blocking the way and our view inside and told us there was no problem. She told us that we only had to put his nose in the bowl and give him dog biscuits. Once again we asked her for milk for the puppy (believing that as expert dog breeders they would have special milk for puppies), but she would not give us anything yet because the dog was not hungry. Then she repeated to us that only when the dog cried because it was hungry were we to come back for food. We obeyed halfway, it was bedtime and the dog still had not cried, but we still had the audacity to go back up to get some food. Then she gave us a carton of  cow milk... yes, ecological. When he started to get hungry, at dawn, the dog did not stop crying, but if he was not able to drink the water, it is easy to imagine what he did with the milk. They hadn´t given us a bottle and we weren´t going to feed it with bike bottles. So as soon as the sun rose we grabbed the puppy and went up to the house for the umpteenth time, but to say that it was their problem, the animal was too young and it was irresponsible to separate him from his mother so soon. She agreed, and said that she knew it was very small. But the day before she did not know? Although she said that they would return to Amaliada to give him back to his mother, at noon girls came to look for us:
-          Ainhoa, Gabi! My mother says the dog is not too small, she fed him yogurt and a boiled egg and now he is sleeping. And if he sleeps, then we can keep him because he is old enough. Do you want to take care of him?
-          I do not - I respond sharply -. That dog is very small, he cannot walk, he poos on himself. In addition to that, dogs do not eat yogurt and boiled eggs.
-          Then you do not want to take care of him, right? –asks the younger of the two.
-          It's not that I don´t want to, trying to reason with her – it is what the dog needs. And he needs his mother, he doesn´t need me to give him milk and eggs.
-          Okay, so I´ll tell my mother that you don´t want to.
And we never ever saw the dog again or knew what happened to him. On Sunday we left early in the morning and did not return until evening, which they criticized us for because the chickens had no water to drink. Fortunately, on Monday they were leaving and we would never see them again. When they left, only the mother got out of the car, so we could not say goodbye to the rest of the family. She came to give us our final instructions, three slices of bread left over from their breakfast, and one of the boiled eggs left over from when she tried to feed the dog. It is assumed that we took care of the farm in exchange for food: we got a bag of half rotten medium tomatoes or completely rotten, another bag with oranges from their trees, half a cabbage, half a cauliflower, a carrot, a zucchini, half a kilo of pasta, half a kilo of rice and a kilo of vegetables (plus three frozen loaves of bread) to spend at least a week, maybe it was expandable to ten days. Two days earlier she told us she would give us five euros more in case it was needed, but she did not think it would be as we could do like them and eat dandelion greens for dinner, which we could get free from the field. She never gave us money nor did we want to ask for anything more, except a bucket to wash our  clothes in. She told us that she didn´t have one, but that we could take a plastic one that was where the turkeys were and, if we washed it well, it could do.

Chickens' nest.

We watch them drive away and wish them as much peace and as rest they leave. In their absence we spend our time trying to design a more livable space for the turkeys and chickens, restack the straw bales so as not to crush the chickens some day and build them a shelter from the wind. We freed one of the dogs all week, and it stopped shaking and peeing every time we approached it. Also we tried it with the female dog, but she goes straight to the neighbor's house. Those neighbors who are not supposed to exist: when they were leaving I asked her for the phone number of someone nearby in case something happened and she said no one lived nearby, but in reality we knew that they had no friends in the valley.

We felt confused, lost, and taken advantage of. In theory, Workaway wasn´t created as an employment agency for cheap labor. During the time that we are on the farm they stop hiring Arthur, an Albanian who is more expensive per hour than we are. Then we open the address book and there we see the data and the phone number of the Manetas. Michalis tells us that the coming days will be very busy because they are organizing a meeting with many people who share their faith and who come from different countries. But right away Christine calls to tell us we're more than welcome to join them and that Marisa, a Spanish missionary is also staying with them these days and she wants to meet us.

We fulfil the agreement with the landlords, pack up our stinky luggage and take the road back to a place where we felt loved from the first moment, surrounded by people who enjoy giving without expecting anything in return, learning to work the land and prune the vines, to clean the stables and use the chicken manure accumulated for the garden, to make dill cakes and homemade cookies, cook strawberry jelly and goat cheese, to laugh at ourselves and make little Kostas laugh. We do not count the hours of work, nor do we even feel them as such, but we are here to help each other within our knowledge and our possibilities.

We often ask "what world we live in?" It might be more interesting to question in what world do we want to live. In Greece we have encountered all kinds of people, each of which has their own way of seeing things. But some of them go beyond observation and devote their lives to action. They are not content with the world in which they once lived, but participate in another universe under construction. We started to do the same when we left Logroño with our bikes, almost a year ago. And you, what world do you want to live in? We all have a hungry soul, but we must carefully calculate how the feed, because if we are to nurture the spirit of matter (call it yogurt and boiled egg, or call it a hotel in Santorini), our souls end up dying of starvation. A great city is basically an agglomeration of rotten souls because that is impossible to find the right feed. But the edges of roads, lost in deep valleys, shaded by ancient trees, it is where that "small house, big heart" is met.

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