Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May Day

Today eclipsed even the hardest day of Leo's and my cycling in Poland last summer as being the hardest thing I have ever done. We covered nearly 14 miles in temperatures that hovered at around 32 Celsius for much of the time we were walking.  As Marian, our Macedonian guide who is usually point man said to me, "In Macedonia we are not out at this time. At this time, in these temperatures, we sleep!" I told him that in Cyprus, it is the same. "Only mad dogs," I said "And English people go out at this time!" He didn't get the reference, but agreed.

We started our day with a Hakka-like stretch following the words and actions of Eleni Fearless Leader, then headed out along farm tracks north of Kilkis. The early start followed another night of very little sleep for me -- a rogue motorcyclist kept the town up at around two in the morning by whizzing around and backfiring, and the bed was not particularly comfortable, but, whatever... We were on the farm tracks bordered by blood-red poppies and an assortment of other amazing coloured flowers -- thistles, mallow, rape, wild parsnip -- all growing beside the ripening barley, still emerald green this far north.

The farm tracks were good going, even as the sun beat down. As people's strides lengthened or shortened, conversations began, ended, were caught again, continued down different avenues.  We are 23 intelligent committed people, we all have things worth saying and listening to. The miles went by... But the sun beat down, and the temperature rose, and, like the refugees who had traversed these or similar paths on their way north, we found nowhere really to stop and rest.  The bus met us every couple of miles and we refilled our water bottles,  but generally there was nowhere to go but on.

Again, I realised how difficult the journey was for the people in whose footsteps we are travelling. Yesterday, we were blessed with cloud cover and a breeze -- no such luck today. And although it is unseasonably hot at the moment, we at least had plentiful water, sandwiches and snacks,  and good boots.  For those without, it must have been a nightmare. We also had no tired children, and knew that a shower, a comfortable bed, and dinner awaited in the not-too-far-distant future.

As we approached the border, we saw a large Greek flag flying on the shores of Lake Dorjan. Wanting a last photo op before Macedonia, we approached -- hailed boisterously by a group of Greeks enjoying a well-lubricated barbecue on the shores of the lake. The more adventurous among the walkers stripped off their clothes and dived into the water. Others accepted the partiers' ouzo, tsipporo, and roast meat, explaining in sign language who we are and what we are doing... more ouzo was poured.

Then back to Roman-the-Bus, so dubbed because of the name of the travel agency on the side, and a wait at the border while our passports were processed ... then a short drive through the throngs of May Day celebrations in the holiday town of Dorjan.  Because of the holiday, and because of unexplained cancellations of our reservations, we have been put up in a very luxurious hotel that boasts a standard higher than anything encountered thus far. JUST what I need! My roomie took a shower and went out for a beer, but I preferred to stretch out, read, download my pictures, and upload this. Dinner is in a few hours, so I am going back to my chillin'.

See you guys tomorrow...

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