Day 166-XCII, from Αράχοβα to Καρακόλιθος, 22 km.
Karakolithos, April 21
On closer inspection the town of Arachova didn’t resemble the gate to the Land of Shadows. It looked more like little Switzerland. In fact, it has the fame of being a jetset ski resort.
The ascent up there was much easier than we thought. I had spelled complete doom over both legs up the mountains, so as long as it didn’t rain it could only be better than expected.
The vanguard was told that we couldn’t camp here anywhere, because it’s a town of people with money. On top of that, the only real square was occupied for 80% by the lounge chairs of the bars. Two reasons for us to defy authorities and squeeze our camp on the remaining twenty percent of public space.
The police officer on guard came to tell us that we had to go. We ignored him and continued to put up our banners and tents. Finally the man went around to the local bars to inform them that we weren’t dangerous, and that we would leave the day after.
In the original route proposal we would take a day off in Arachova because of the ascent, but upon arrival people decided that it wasn’t necessary. We are fit enough, we will march straight on into the valley and gain a second day of margin.
It was a logical decision. One night would suffice in this hip little mountain town. And we sure made it a good one. We rocked all evening, singing revolutionary songs and jamming in the square. Friends from Preveza and Agrinio had come to meet us, and a small group of locals was attracted by the vibe as well.
So at least yesterday morale was on the rebound. We were on the highest point of our route in Greece, and we marked it appropriately with a beat.
Today we descend into Boiotia, land of cattle, home of glorious Thebes!
It’s a smooth descent. For over twenty kilometres, left and right, there is nothing but high walls of rocky mountains. The most impressive among them is Mount Parnassus, which had appeared to us from its veil of clouds every now and then since Galaxidi.
There is hardly any traffic on the long declining straights, and so once in a while you can see a trolley whizzing by…
“So long, marcher! See you in the valley!”
At half way I walk along with comrade Rashid when a big Chevrolet pick-up comes by. He stops, he turns around, he pulls up. The young man behind the wheel asks us where we are going.
“All the way to Athens? Wow.” He reaches for his pocket. “Do you want a spliff?”
A spliff is what the Americans call a joint with weed and tobacco.
“Sure. Why not.”
He hands us a prerolled spliff, and drives off. “Have fun!”
Later, much much later, we arrive in Karakolithos. It’s by far the smallest village we visited. It isn’t even a village. There are two taverns and two houses, of which one is abandoned. I’m amazed that this place even has a name, and that it’s indicated on the map.
The people from one of the taverns don’t want us to light a fire, but since we are out of gas, they let us use their kitchen for cooking.
After dinner I walk around, I go up the slopes to see the sun set behind Mount Parnassus. Then I go to sleep early. I have a strange presentiment that I will be dreaming of cherry pie, and whip cream.