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Splinters

To travel the way I am is to partake in adventure. Adventure is, by its very nature, unpredictable, chaotic, and full of unforseen consequences, for better or for worse. So as romantic and exciting as it is (and it is both, trust me) I seem to be spending good chunks of my time doing the most irritating tasks.

Like, say, digging splinters out of my big toe with a sewing needle.

I stepped on an underwater plant while swimming in Agia Pelaiga a few days ago. Some kind of moss. Some kind of moss with VERY SHARP SPIKES.

Suddenly, and at the top of my lungs, I was screaming for someone to engage in a sexual act with my posterior.

“Uh…no thanks,” one of the girls next to me said.

The pain had subsided initially. Two days later I’d forgoten the incident entirely, and was gamely trying to go for my jog.

“Dig I break my big toe at some point?” I wondered five minutes into my abortive jog. It wasn’t until the next day that I found the black ugly spikes buried under the skin. I tried soaking it. After two hours of keeping my foot in a hotel trash can filled with water, no luck. I tried my pocket knife. It couldn’t cut paper. Finally, I remembered my sewing kit.

And then I remembered how much I hated doing surgery on myself. I gave up after another half hour of awkwardly trying to stretch my foot to my face. The next morning I tried putting weight on the toe. Again, I found myself screaming requests for various sexual acts.

Ok, splinters, I thought to myself. Only one of us is leaving this hotel room.

I got them out in the end. But, well, a lot of travelling solo isn’t just romantic beaches and breathtaking vistas. A lot of it, so far, anyway, is taking care of the odd chores.

My duffel bag exploded, for example.

It exploded at the worst possible time, just as I was returning the rental car and dropping the girls off for their ferry to Santorini. Sure, it wasn’t a detonation in the truest sense of the word, spewing forth dirty underwear and souvenirs across the floor. It was just a broken zipper. True, it was a cheap duffel with no shoulder straps that I bought last minute for under thirty bucks. But as I found myself sitting on the floor of the rental car agency desperately trying to force the zipper back into whatever configuration would allow it to close, the zipper failure felt like Hiroshima. “And it’s Sunday,” the rental car guy said. “Everything is closed.”

He’s not kidding. There is no place to buy a replacement duffel in town. After an hour, I manage to get the zipper MOSTLY zipped, and drag it to my hotel in Iraklion. It’s doing a serviceable job, all things considered, but the damn thing is still being held together by the power of positive thinking, and everytime I reopen it it breaks again, and I spend another couple hours trying to fix it again. The cost to replace it? About 60 Euros, here in Naxos. I don’t even want to think about the exchange rate. Maybe a few rolls of duct tape will do the trick?

So yeah, I’m in Naxos today. It looks like this:

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I know, you hate me. I’d hate me too. Naxos was occupied by the Germans during World War II. From the demographics I’ve seen, there hasn’t been much by way of change of mangement.
“Ya sas,” I said to the receptionist as I came into my hotel yesterday.”
“Gutentag.”
Really?
Everyone, EVERYONE at my hotel is a German tourist. Okay, it’s German owned, word probably gets around. But it ain’t just my hotel. It’s the tourists on the beaches. It’s the bartenders down the boardwalk. They’re freaking EVERYWHERE. I knew I’d have to pick up a little Greek to get by, but for frak’s sake, I find myself practicing my German more often.
This town is a tourist trap. Everything is overpriced, and it’s extraordinarily geared toward the tourism industry. There are a few wonderful, still very old Greek parts of town (the Kastro, in particular, is gorgeous. More on that later) but mostly, this is a beach town.
Normally, I’d be disappointed, and annoying my travelling companions with protestations that we simply MUST travel the 40km to Apollon to see the gynormous (thanks, Irwin) kouros statue rather than hang out at the beach. But I’ve been pulling ancient Mycenaean pottery out of the ground for the last three weeks. I just saw La Parissiene, the Harvester Vase, and the Bull Leaping fresco. I’m not exactly cultured-out, but I’m fine with taking a break from museums and artifacts for a few days.
Also, something bizarre happened yesterday. I had a shower. With hot water. Not for part of the time, but for the whole time. And I had to turn the water pressure down because, for the first time since I can remember, it was actually too high. God bless you neurotic, hardworking Germans. And God bless your love of waffles, I can think of no other reason for them to be so omni-present.

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  1. Karin
    June 24, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Sometimes those unforeseen consequences of irritating tasks will surprise you. I have a friend who made his millions in the high-end tweezer business when he learned to appreciate good tools after a nude sunbathing/rooftop frolicking incident!

    • nycwastrel
      June 25, 2009 at 12:00 pm

      High end tweezers? Man, i gotta get some of those. Too bad he thought of it first!

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