Although I still wonder daily how the hell we got into this global mass hysteria, at the same time I try to accept our fate: in lockdown living aboard our Coco on the beautiful Greek island of Samos. There are worse places to be stuck and fortunately the strict rules also offer some escape options, like our favorite ‘category 6’: personal exercise and walking with pets.
For the time being, there are no conditions attached to category 6 in terms of time and distance, so it offers us plenty of space to further explore the surroundings of Ormos Marathokampou and to escape our ‘brave new world’. The first time we hit the road, we are immediately checked. When we walk for a short while along the main road to Kampos, a passing police car stops next to us. After showing our text messages (see previous blog) we can continue our way. Two cars that pass are also checked. It soon becomes clear that the lockdown is also in our hamlet in an ‘ungreek’ way seriously enforced.
Via an empty beach we continue towards the goal of our hike, the Kerkis: at 1.400 meters the highest mountain on Samos. Even more than usual, we now avoid villages and main roads. We are reluctant to explore the exact limits of what is and is not allowed within category 6 or to encounter many people. The latter would not succeed anyway, because the streets are more and more extinct every day. Sometimes it seems as if we are walking over an empty film set. From a garden further on, a family waves enthusiastically at us. A single individual that we pass looks shyly at us. I don’t like this brave new world.
Fortunately, walking clears and lightens our heads. The journey to the foot of the Kerkis allready takes so long that we don’t have enough time left to walk all the way to the top. We therefore limit ourselves to the climb to the abandoned nunnery at an altitude of 650 meters. Like many walks on Samos, this one has also been described and marked, something that we have not often encountered in Greece. It is not necessary in itself, because the path is easy to follow as it is.
While enjoying beautiful views over a misty sea, we slowly ascend through forests and abundantly flowering fields. The temperature is rising steadily and we are happy that there is indeed a working water source at the monastery. Thirsty from the long walk, we all three eagerly use it.
But God is seriously smiling down upon us today. When I check the doors of the nunnery, I soon come across a dingy kitchen that is apparently still used by hunters or mountain hikers. The majority of the stock consists of wine, coffee and a few ice-cold beers. With our legs up high we treat ourselves to one leaving a few euros behind.
The way back is just as beautiful as the way there. Only downhill it is easier and a bit faster. Just before we return to civilization, we send two new text messages just to be sure. It is not necessary, because we don’t bump in to the police anymore.
In the meantime, the lockdown has been extended to April 27 and the Greek government is taking additional measures to prevent the Greeks from traveling en masse to their families on the islands or the countryside during the Greek Orthodox Easter, the most important holiday of the year. Swimming, fishing and other recreational water sports are prohibited until May 15. When I ask the lady that runs the supermarket about the rumor that the date for celebrating Easter got changed to May 25, she looks at me a bit pitying at hearing such a lack of knowledge of the Christian holidays calendar. “It’s not the same” and in her best English supported with a lot of gestures, she explains to me that 40 days after Easter there is another Christian holiday and that ‘He’ takes off on that day. So Ascension Day. Still, light shines at the end of the tunnel. The Greek government is already speculating cautiously about easing the measures in May if everyone behaves ‘neatly’ in April.
In anticipation of what is to come, we go for another hike. This time we take a short walk to ‘Kaladakia beach’ surrounded by beautiful sea views. Normally, this small beach is a popular tourist attraction, as can be seen by the parking lot and the foundation for a large beach tent. Now it is quiet and deserted. I look over the sea musing. Who could have predicted a month ago that humanity would make such profound changes in such a short time in response to a bad flu? Why then, with the same vigorous and energetic approach, can we fail to put an end to the real problems on this globe, such as other diseases, hunger, poverty, war, violence, exploitation and climate change?