Monday, July 26, 2010

Life in a Day - Drama, action, turmoil but no pictures

Last week I announced that I would be taking part in the Youtube Life in a Day project. The basic idea being that people from all over the world would upload a video shot on the 24th July that showed something of their life and from all this footage A film could be fashioned that would give future generations an idea of what everyday life was like all over the planet.

So, keeping that in mind I set off on a journey with video camera in hand hoping to capture something of the flavour of a holiday weekend in Greece. What I got was full of adventure, the triumph over adversity, trials and tribulations all set against an exotic backdrop of Mt Olympus. What I didn't get however was images.

Starting off from Thessaloniki in blazing sunshine I decided to take my friends up on an invitation to join them camping on the slopes on Mt Olympus which given the unrelenting heatwave sounded too inticing to pass up. What I didn't count on was a blow out in the back tyre of my Vespa just as I was getting close to my final destination. The scooter ran over a 5" nail and shuddered to a halt on the hard shoulder of the southbound National Road (motorway).

Of course as anyone who has ever driven a Vespa knows that one of its virtues is that you have a spare tyre by your side. But only if you've remembered to fix the previous flat. Whoops! Soon a member of a road crew draws up and asks if he can help but unless he has a spare tyre hidden round his person there is not much he can do. However, he does say that the Vespa can't be left where it is as it constitutes a hazard to other road users and so I end up pushing 130 kg of dead machine half a kilometre to the nearest lay-by in 40C.

But all is not lost as my friends are just a quick ride away, if I call them now they could have me and the spare tyre in Katerini within half an hour so there's no reason to worry is there? Well, there wouldn't be if they didn't happen to be camping half way up the mountain in a spot with no mobile phone reception. More calls, more SMS's but no reply. As time is quickly passing I decide to see if I can make it back into town to find a garage to fix the problem before everything shuts down for the weekend.

An hour and who knows how many hot footsteps later I find a suitable place only to discover that it was closed, "Should have been here a hour ago, he was in" informs me the owner of the petrol station nearby. He does his best to find out if anywhere else is open but timing is against me and considering its already 6pm there's little or no chance of finding a place that is open.

Suddenly remembering something told to me by the road crew guy I ask if he has that spray that allows you to drive on a flat. Yes, he does!!!!! So I'm saved. Haahahaha, who the gods wish to destroy they first make them as mad as hell to paraphrase Euripidis and the frothy mixture in the can proves about as effective as weak cappucino in fixing the puncture.

So sensing that fate is not going to release its sharp fangs from my ass I decide to call it a day and trudge another few kilometres into the centre of Katerini in order to catch a bus back to Thessaloniki and come back on Monday. Exhausted, smelling like a goat and covered in grease and grim I climb onto the coach being very careful to give fellow passengers as wide a berth as possible.

Just as we are leaving the coach station my phone rings and its my friends, "Hi all...... here ok?..... I....... " I frantically phone back but all I get is the usual message saying the user cannot be contacted.

When I finally get home I'm torn between throwing my clothes in the washing machine or just burning them there and then as a health hazard and then have a shower and cold beer that instantly reminds me of a scene from the movie Ice Cold In Alex when John Mills in full stiff upper lip mode sits at a bar eyeing his lager after dragging himself half way across the Sahara in an attempt to avoid capture by the Germans.

This morning I got the puncture fixed and then caught the bus to Litoxoro, hoping that neither my bike nor any of the stuff in the rucksack I had hidden in the bushes in the lay-by had been stolen. However, just for fun instead of a heatwave the weather is stormy and we drive through pouring rain on most of the journey there. But it was all worth as I see that the bike is still there and so is all my stuff, exactly where I had left it.

Happy ending? Almost. I get the wheel changed and set off in the driving rain. My first thought is to see if I can't reach my friends after all but the riding up a mountain in the middle of an electrical storm seems to be pushing my luck way beyond its limits. So I turn off and start my journey back to Thessaloniki and just as I'm passing the place where I broke down the engine dies on me. NOOOOOOOOOooooooo!!!!! This cannot be happening. But it turns out to be Fate's last little joke and a couple of minutes later I kick start the Vespa into life and drive off, hoping that this is my last adventure for the time being.

But despite all this high drama I didn't take any video of a what happened, I guess that I was a little too close to what was happening and I just couldn't bring myself to record what would have been a seemingly endless list of expletives.

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