I had finally arrived in Athens, and not moment too soon. My package of emergency gear waited for me at DHL. George and I hopped into the car and drove to the warehouse.
We couldn't pick up my gear, not yet. First we waited in line for a while, or at least George did. I wandered around in a way that I hoped would randomly take me to my package, but a security man was soon casually following me, and when I took a picture of the inside of the warehouse he was quick to insist that I delete it. I pretended to comply.
We paid 35 euro for the paperwork I needed in order to pay 300 euro in VAT. I can't afford 300 euro, but it was okay, I would get the money back when I left the country.
At the customs office I explained that I was going to visit friends in Israel for passover. "My flight leaves on Sunday and I'll be paddling until then. How do I redeem my 300 euro?"
I couldn't, the office is closed on Sunday and money could only be redeemed on the day of the flight.
"I'll be kayaking from Rhodes to Turkey, can I redeem my money in Rhodes?"
"You can only redeem your money in the same office you paid it, so no."
I decided to ask DHL to forward the package to meet me in Israel and returned to George's home crestfallen.
A few days later we found out that would cost 130 euro, more than what it would cost to mail from the States. Enough time remained to return it to America and have a friend of a friend take it with him to Israel for Passover, only DHL sat on it for a week and we lost our last chance. The package is now in America, and will likely stay there.
There were no shortage of logistical issues, including plane tickets and boat repairs to keep me busy for the rest of the day. George and I also made plans for four days of paddling together.
The next morning we set out on flat water with a mild tailwind.
The air was warm and I had a friend to bail me out if something went wrong, so I rolled frequently and with vigor. Unbeknown to me, water silently crept into my boat, slid into one of my old leaky dry bags, and took a death lunge at my computer while it slept. It never woke again. Replacement dry bags had been in the package.
We passed an island and a slice in the rocks that I never would have noticed, but George knew its secret. We paddled through a meter-wide arch to a hidden lagoon surrounded by steep cliffs on all sides. The water was deep and clear. Shellfish lived in abundance on the rocks. George ate a few.
We left Athens and paddled around more islands. George told me a story:
When he was a young Greek bouncer in London he was had trouble getting tail. In Greece it grew on trees, but in London famine waisted the land. So when a young lady promising discretion approached him, on account of the fact that he was good looking, he decided to oblige her.
Soon after, he reclined in a hotel room. The preliminaries were behind him and he was ready to do the deed. But his new friend, in her excitement remembered "We forgot to pay for the room!"
So he handed her cash and she, being slightly more suited to walk about the hallways then he was, left the room with his money and pride.
An hour later, George pulled his pants up and went to retrieve both, neither being readily available in the London slums that were his life.
He searched the streets. He searched the alleys. He searched the cat houses. He searched the bars. And he found her, with her manager who was rather large.
With awesome fury, fiery eyes, lots of yelling, and some threatening, he got his money back. As the sky took on the colors of dawn, he found his way past the pushers and the pimps, to collapse into his bed.
We arrived in port Sounion. We found a small room with a drink machine and some tables where old men played cards.
No, I could not sleep there for the night. A guard would come at ten and maybe he would let me sleep in the port and maybe not.
George and I played chess, then he went to sleep in his tent on the beach.
The guard woke me up at 10:00. He said I should sleep inside and gave me cookies.
[gallery columns="3" ids="4319,4318,4329,4331,4330,4334,4335,4317,4316"]
Nautical miles paddled: 20
Current location: 37.662438,23.992676