Day 162-LXXXVIII, from Γαλαξίδι to Ιτέα, 17 km.
Itea, April 17
The road is only one. As long as you make sure you have the mountains to your left and the sea to your right you are going in the right direction.
But sometimes, there is a small trail going parallel to the road on the seaboard. Whenever it’s there, I follow the trail.
I sit down on a rock to take a break. Days are growing longer, and it don’t feel the need to hurry. It’s hazy today. The small islands and the coast are shrouded in mystery. From far down the path an old man comes walking up.
He speaks a bit of English, among other languages, because he used to be a sailor on a cargo ship. He is not the first sailor I have met along the waterside. The fate and history of Greece is inextricably connected to the sea.
When asked I say I come from Rotterdam. And of course, the old sailor knows the place. The largest port of Europe, the world, and probably the entire galaxy. He has been there many times. He has sailed the seven seas, he has called at all major Atlantic ports from Boston to Buenos Aires.
As a sailor he knows the world mainly from the other side of the mirror. Now he is retired, forced to spend his twilight days as a landlubber. But the sea keeps calling. That’s why he’s here. He looks out over the water, his gaze is used to spot only the thin line between the water and the sky.
He salutes and walks on. And me, I long to be a sailor too.
A long way back, on the southern shore of the Ambracian Gulf, the informal Weed commission finally made a catch. It was good, home grown stuff. La seminarella, one of our Neapolitan comrades called it. In Sicily they would describe this weed as spacchiusu. Literally it means ‘full of seeds’, in speech the word is used to indicate anything that is cool.
The weed is already finished for quite a while, but I have carefully collected all the seeds. And today I have started to practice what I have been saying for a long time. At almost every stop in nature, I dig a little hole, I put a seed in it, I cover it up, and I sprinkle it with a few drops of water.
This is the right season to sow. It’s a satisfying, symbolic gesture that is both biblical and revolutionary. We have to start somewhere. There will come a season when we will be able to reap.
I walk on along the Gulf of Itea. It’s a small bay in the form of a hand. You can see fair Itea from miles away, but you have to round each finger before you finally get there.
All the while you start to realise that the easy days are coming to an end. You have mountains on one side, and from the other side of the bay they are closing in on you as well. The road is squeezed in between them. There is no way back.
Here in Itea we say goodbye to the sea. For a couple weeks, until right before Athens, we won’t see her again. High above the outlines of Itea, there are the snow covered mountains. From now on, the road goes up.