Thursday, August 29, 2013
Precious moments with family
and motor scooter adventures
Sometimes we forget how precious life is. We let so many of the little things that make us smile pass us by. Sometimes we even forget to appreciate the people that are close to us and the simple pleasures that we share with family.
A few days ago we were reminded how important it is to appreciate these moments after hearing the sad news of the sudden passing of a family member in Australia.
So while we feel sorrow for the loss of our loved one, Tony and I feel very lucky to be spending our holiday here with the family that we are with.
My second cousin, Artemis, posted a very poignant thought on Facebook the other day – a quote by Robert Frost – "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." Tony and I have vowed to try and make the most of every day we have here in Limnos, and every day for the rest of our lives because life does go on, and it doesn't last very long.
Every day should be appreciated and reflected upon – try to remember the smiles, the laughs and the joys of that day, no matter how small. And always try to maintain a sense of humour because even some of the most preposterous situations can have a funny side to them.
There are plenty of opportunities in Limnos, and in Greece generally, to have a laugh about the absurd situations that you sometimes encounter. Life is so different here. It's casual and relaxed and no one seems to worry about anything. Things that we would normally freak out about back home in Australia like someone driving the wrong way down a one-way street, people parking their cars on the footpath, parents taking their babies in prams out to nightclubs, stray cats coming up and sitting on people's laps in restaurants – all these things are perfectly acceptable here in Greece, and when in Greece, somehow you accept it too.
Today we experienced one of those situations when things went stupidly wrong, trying to exchange our ridiculously unpowerful 50cc motor scooter for a more powerful one. The speedometer didn't work, there was no suspension, the seat was rock hard and it was loud, smelly and couldn't get up a hill without me hopping off the bike first. We just had to exchange it.
We hired the bike last Saturday from our old friend George who runs a little motor scooter hire shop from his house here in Limnos and always does a great deal for us. This year he promised to give us his best bike, an 80cc Kimco with a back rest. Unfortunately this bike was in repair the day we turned up to collect it, so we ended up with the scrappy little 50cc. "Your bike ready Wednesday!", George promised in broken English.
For four days we put up with the tiny little scrap heap of a bike, managing to take it for a ride yesterday to Agios Yiannis (only a few kilometres from where we are staying but an excruciatingly rough road), all the while enduring whiplash, bruised bums and numerous vertebrae-crushes. Thankfully the road is blessed with breathtaking views of blue skies and blue seas all around which momentarily anaesthetised our painful bone injuries.
Today we returned to George's shop to exchange the 50cc for the 80cc, only to discover the bigger bike was still in repair. George demanded, "You go to garage and ask when bike is ready!". I looked at Tony, bewildered, and yelled back at George, "You're kidding, right? This isn't our job! This is your job, George!!" He laughed like I was saying something completely ridiculous and ordered we get on our rattly scooter and follow him to the mechanic's garage immediately.
Riding effortlessly in front of us on his shiny new smooth-riding motor scooter, we putted and popped along behind him, struggling to keep up with him at our top speed of 40 kilometres per hour.
Still in disbelief that we had to make this trip to the mechanic's garage with George, we eventually arrived at a large junk yard littered with car wrecks and all sorts of rusty old broken down vehicles. Inside the tin-roofed garage was a small cubicle office, and leaning back in his reclining office chair, enjoying a cigarette and pretending he didn't notice us arriving, was the owner of the garage.
George, Tony and I wandered around the shed looking for our 80cc and there behind a few spare tyres was the bike, all pulled apart. The three of us just stood there shaking our heads.
A sufficient amount of time later the owner casually emerged from the office, only to tell us he doesn't know when the bike will be ready. George turned to us and just said, "Who knows, maybe next year!" and we walked out of the shed as the owner strolled back to his office.
Outside, Tony negotiated with George to allow us to take his shiny little smooth rider instead, the one on which he escorted us to the mechanic's garage. We swapped bikes and rode back to George's shop feeling much happier with the feel of the shiny new motor scooter, except that when it came time to stop, Tony noticed it had no back brake!
Back at George's shop we alerted George to this little problem and he said "Oh. Yes. No brakes. I fix and you come back afternoon for this bike. You take old bike and bring back later."
So back onto the old hard-seated, suspensionless 50cc we hopped, the bike that George had just ridden back from the mechanics, and low and behold, it wouldn't start. Three more attempts and it still wouldn't start. "What have you done to the bike, George!" – I was stunned. George couldn't start it either. "I don't know what happen to this bike! It no work now. I break bike!!" he joked.
We were in a hurry to get to the shops since we were putting on a huge meze feast for lunch today and needed a bike to pick up all the ingredients. All George had left in his tiny front yard was the 50cc bike that wouldn't start, the shiny new bike that had no back brake, and a tiny yellow motor scooter that looked like it would break if one person sat on it, let alone two. But we needed a bike so we took the yellow scooter. Typhoon One it's called, "One" as in "1cc", we are sure.
Below: Tony not very impressed with our 1cc replacement motor scooter.
We went back to George this afternoon to pick up the shiny bike with fixed brakes, but of course he hadn't fixed them. The yellow scooter was worse than the one we started with so we exchanged it yet again for another 2-stroke 50cc spine cruncher.
So here we are, four motor scooters later, back to where we started. Who knows when (or if) we will get a better bike, but this is Greece, and you've got to laugh :)
Today's lunch was one of Tony's masterpieces. He loves putting together platters of food, arranging all the elements in rows and rings on the plate. It's so retro but he loves it. Containing many cold meats and pickled fish, the spread wasn't a vegetarian feast, but I contributed a Greek salad and bowl of home-made fava which is simply pureed yellow split peas dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. A while ago I wrote a guest post for Liz at I Spy Plum Pie where you can find the recipe for fava.
Cheers George! This is George, my dad's brother (not motor scooter George!).
Tony's selection of mezes wouldn't be complete without olives, chargrilled eggplant, cheese, nuts and of course, a bottle of Greek ouzo.
But most importantly, we were sharing this good food with our family. Enjoying every minute, enjoying every bite.