The summer is over, I have a new laptop (we had a break-in at our place… both laptops stolen = boo!), and it’s time to catch up on some writing.
It’s been four months since my reunion in Greece with some of the original members of the Majestic Unicorn Motorcycle Club, and I am still limping! Early in May I flew to Athens, to be met by Emily and Talia at the airport, and then Erika, Rhianon, and new friend Alix at our airbnb apartment looking out towards the Acropolis! A spread of dolmades, olives, fruit from the market, wine and cheese was waiting for us.
Naturally we explored historic sites, museums, markets, and indulged in eating local foods, but the younger girls were still avid skateboarders and had connections to take them to the park and street spots. I was grateful for Emily’s company since I had actually sold my skateboard in a garage sale for $5 to a kid one year ago. It was a weird decision to make because I get a real high from skateboarding, in the moment, and then suffer with back spasms for weeks after. Getting older can be hard to embrace.
And yet, one evening we met the girls at a small DIY skatepark in the suburbs of Athens, and I just could not resist. Rhianon lent me her skateboard while she took photos, and all I wanted to do was get up and over this small door on the banked wall. It was surprising how the feeling came back, and after two tries I had accomplished my little goal. So, I continued to pump around, with pathetic ollies over the pyramid hip… and it felt so great! Then there was a twinge in my right calf muscle from pushing. I figured I should just keep riding it out, but it never went away. I am such an idiot. And now, as I mentioned, four months later I’m still waking up with a seized calf and massage has proven futile.
The adventure continued, and we began to explore some islands. Paros was a quaint Cyclades island where we turned ourselves into a hilarious off-road gang. There was a rental shop where Emily and Rhianon had reserved dual sports in advance of us coming. What was left was a gutless wonder sport bike that I rented, and since the others didn’t have their full licenses, Erika and Alix ended up with gangsta quads and Talia went for a ripping little scooter. Erika actually began riding motorcycles before most of us, but she wasn’t phased by the rental shops demands and fully embraced being leader of the Quad Squad! Rad.
Within 10 minutes, Emily’s bike had a flat tire and her replacement bike was so sketchy that half the time we had to bump start it, but these hiccups did not deter us. We just shredded up the island, taking the quads to an empty beach, off-roading the various trails, and taking time to hike and wander the quaint towns. It was ideal to have a group of five because it allowed for options everyday, and there was no pressure to do one thing or another, and no one felt left out.
Paros was pretty sweet, since the atmosphere was mellow and the owners of our hostel hotel were so happy to have a crew of young women that we seemed to benefit from an excess of free wine and special deals, if only we would hang out in the evening to bring some energy to the outdoor patio restaurant!
Our group changed slightly since Emily was off to Turkey to begin her three month adventure by land to China with her boyfriend, then Alix had to return to Germany, and we were meeting another girl named Sarah on the island of Andros. The reason we were to convene in Andros is because Erika knew a guy who had inherited this beautiful hotel, perched on the side of a small mountain in a town called Apikia. He had named the hotel “the Blu Enigma“, and over the last two years had renovated the space and inserted a proper skateboard bowl out back! Plus, he had developed a snake line bowl down the side of the hill… to the detriment of a former vineyard!
We were the only guests since the tourist season had yet to begin, but were eventually joined by a few BMX bikers who now have this star-struck vision of Canadian girls all being total rulers! The girls were grinding the coping of the bowl and getting some decent tricks in before the heat sapped all energy. I had some modest rounds of pumping the bowl but was too keenly aware of my mortality and aching body to really go for it. Instead, I took time to hike several trails that created an intricate network over the island and explore the many beaches, some of which were boat access only.
Andros is deceptive because on one side, where the ferry boat arrives, it looks barren and dry, but once you pass over the ridge to the opposite side you discover this incredibly lush, fertile landscape with mountain streams, fig trees, and vineyards everywhere. I even took a solo ride to a monastery and ended up just sitting in this beautiful valley, huffing in the air thick with honey as the bees worked a field of purple clover, and laughing at all the cute baby goats.
I really needed this trip. My workplace in the downtown eastside of Vancouver can be such a desperate scene of urban decay and neglect, that it can get me down or at least “gray” me as I forget that there are beautiful landscapes without sirens and alley debris. Plus, it was so awesome to be surrounded by like-minded adventurous women who were pursuing their dreams by working for Skateistan, pursuing their Masters in Berlin, and traveling to new places. It was so easy to converse and encourage each other.
I also have a new appreciation for older female skateboarders like Alexis Sablone who won the 2015 X-Games street competition, again! Sablone is so rad… an MIT graduate who has consistently ruled in such a humble way, ever since her video part in PJ Ladd’s Wonderful Horrible Life back in 2002! I still have ten years on her, but I really respect her ability to manage studies and pursue her passion without reverting to selling herself as an eXtreme athlete through cheesy tactics and sponsorship demands.
Obviously Greece is going through an upheaval in terms of finances and refugees, and the intention of the trip wasn’t to be ignorant of these realities and exploit the situation. The Greek people we met were resilient and hospitable, and seemed grateful for simple things like good conversation and celebrating the (literal) fruits of their labour. I would definitely go back in a heart beat.