|The view from Arginonta|
Waking up every morning, here in paradise, it is hard to come to the realization of being “awake”. This place is so much like a dream; I sometimes confuse myself with what is reality and what is simply a figure of my imagination. For most of my life my dream world has been infinitely better than reality, weather I was waking up early for work or school, or maybe sleeping half the day away only waking up with one wicked hangover. The dreams have always been better. But now, waking up early by the light of the sun gleaming in through our glass windows, the sound of birds singing their favorite tunes, or the salty smell of the ocean breeze coming through the open windows. And on this particular morning (Sundays) the chant of Greek Orthodox monks, thanking their god for this beautiful weather. Life here is so simple and surreal, everyone helps each other, they rely on each other, so much so that this island has an almost 0% crime rate. The trust here between others is amazing, even between complete strangers people will trust each other with everything they got and the incredible part is that the other will live up to the occasion. It creates a more comfortable environment, one where you can relax and not feel stressed. It’s a feeling I’m still getting use to and haven’t fully embraced yet. Just the other day Jess and I walked into a shop, and the owner was gone, left his shop completely open, with no second-guesses. The thought never crossed his mind that something would get stolen. Peacefulness, serenity and sheer beauty are the three words I would choose to describe this place, if given a limit on words.
Saturday was our first rest day of the trip. A much needed one at that. The routes here are long, doing one is like climbing three routes back to back in Ontario. Our muscles were aching big time. Erika and Olly don’t have much time left on the island, so they decided to go check out Grande Grotta, Joe joined them later while Jess and I stayed behind to do some yoga. After our stretch we walked up to Mike’s and sat down on the patio, surrounded by blooming flowers and shaded by grape vines. We order some coffee made by Mike with love to enjoy while reading our books. This is where I sit at the moment, typing away at this blog.
|Jess at Mike's cafe|
The two of us after a couple peaceful hours of reading went to meet the other up at the crag, but as we walked into the parking area, where the trail up the steep hill begins we spotted them on their way down. They were close enough just to make them out. Then something happened. Joe, without saying a word, engaged Jess and I in a dance off! From what I could see, Joe was busting the sprinkler move and finished of with a decent shopping cart move. Jess stuck with what he knew best, directing traffic, while I…well anyone that knows me I just wiggle my arms and legs in an untimely and unattractive manner. Because of the downfall I brought to team Jess, I would settle that the dance off ended in a tie, despite Joe’s high ground advantage (+2 to attack). Jess won’t include me on his team anymore.
|Dondoni crag, taken from our ledge|
They finally reached the car, which we pack up and all went off to a crag called Dodoni. Jess and I began a game of Catan while waiting for them to walk down which we continued in the car. Although my focus was predominantly on Catan, I’m sure I counted at least 8 U-turns and two stops to ask directions. It took us an entire game of Catan, in which me and Jess mucked the robot player – Jess becoming the overall Lord, to reach the crag parking. The approach was fairly easy winding in and out of cactus plants and along ancient stone fences. It was a perfect crag for Erika and Olly, containing a few classic routes in their grade level. The crag being tucked away in a valley is located close to an ancient castle. Jess, feeling powerful after conquering the island of Catan, hired Joe and I as Sherpas/Warriors to go and conquer the castle. We climbed up the steep mountain leading to the castle, it was treacherous, no trails, just all ruble. We put all that sweat and effort into it to find that it was surrounded in barbwire and had no way to get in. Jess gave up on his conquest. On top of this downer, I tripped and face planted into a rock. I was lucky as I only received a fat lip, injured shoulder and a few scratches and bruises. It could have been a lot worse, possibly losing my two front teeth or falling over the small cliff a couple feet in front of me. After regaining my balance and standing up, my so-called friends fire me as a Sherpa because I failed to hang on to my belongings as I fell. Later Joe the nurse, assessed me by poking my wounds with his finger, when I responded with an “OUCH” he came to the conclusion that I was injured. That was the end of the assessment, glad all those years of schooling paid off.
We found a shaded ledge high up offering a great view of the crag and a couple flat rocks grooved perfectly for our aching butts. As you have probably guessed, we whipped out a game of Catan. After a great game I become the new Lord of Catan and hired Jess as my Sherpa, giving him my bag to carry down. By the time we got back down to the crag, Olly and Erika were finishing up their routes and we were soon on our way back to the car.
We arrived back to our studios where I cooked a dinner for Jess, Joe and I. Spaghetti with ground beef, tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, corn and some tomato sauce. It has been the same dinner for the past week now. No one is complaining, it fills our bellies. We then all met up at Mike’s café again and relaxed with a beer for the remainder of the night.
|Jess on Firewall|
The next morning, being Sunday, we woke up to the condition I described earlier, including the chanting monks. The 6am mornings are starting to grow on me and it no longer feels too bad. An early morning is must here, the sun will hit the cliff at most crags around 1, making heat exhaustion only steps away. After a wonderful egg breakfast cooked by the one and only Jess Tarry we headed out to a crag called Arginonta. A crag that has a wide variety of classic routes to be sent. Being the first climbers at the crag, we had our choice of climbs and decided to warm up on a couple 6b routes and a 6a. I got my first on sight/send of the trip, a route called Wild Sex. Halfway up the route I grab a side pull, which just crumbled in my hand, and flung it off the cliff, missing Joe by mere inches. My aim was a little off. After a fight at the end I was proud to be clipping the anchors, I was finally breathing properly again and staying calm higher up on the routes. The distant ambiance of the monks chanting help me get my lead head back on and half way up the route I found myself zoned out grooving to the chants. It just one of those feelings you never forget. I later flashed the other 6b right beside called Borhok. Jess led the 6a called Pornokini, and everyone else was able to climb these beautiful routes. By the time other climbers started to fill the crag we had finished the 3 most popular climbs. After those, Joe and Jess wanted to try something a little harder and since the 7a+ No Sleep Till Hammersmith was taken, we move on to Firewall, I newly equipped 7b+. Joe did what Joe does best and on sighted the route. Jess still hasn’t sent, but made all the moves and is now just waiting for a chance to come back and send.
|The start to No Sleep Till Hammersmith|
I stayed with Jess who put 4 solid burns into this project of his while Joe went and sent Hammersmith, which was now open. Both these routes were classics and instead of given a star rating in the book they received a musical note. Everyone was pretty spent after the projecting and the sun was starting to make its way high into the sky. We pack are things up and once again we were the first to arrive and the last to leave.