samothraki is a small, volcanic forested island off the coast of greece, but very close to turkey. the inhabitants can be characterized as follows:
1/3 healthy octogenarians, owing likely to their yogurt diet and regular visits to the hot springs
1/3 grungy, stinky, brown dreadlocked hippies who wear tattered rags
the rest are goats and sheep.
kind of like my native Lozère.
the only way to get to samothraki is by a daily ferry, from the small town of alexandropoulos. this is the only link to the outside world, and the boat brings food, mail, people, doctors, business. the island has 3 busses that makes the rounds of villages from the port town, but...just like the paris-alès-florac timetable that baffled my family for decades, the schedules of the bus and the boat don't sync. ever. so when you arrive in samothraki on the boat, there is a bus that has left 20 minutes earlier. the next one is idling in the parking lot, driver chain smoking cigarettes and it will do so for another 90 minutes before it goes anywhere. every little town has a bus stop, and a paper tacked to a board that is the schedule. but i have found that this paper is the same exact one posted everywhere, with the same times all over the island, which means it must only say when the bus actually leaves the departure point...so you have to guesstimate where you are on the route and how many cigarette breaks through the day to figure out when the bus comes. in addition, there are temporary schedules, the ones with penciled in times and dates and long story short you can wait for 3 hours for an hourly bus and it will never come. i went in to a coffee shop, to ask about the bus, pointing to the schedule near the cash register and the guy waves his hand like pashaw, bus? what bus, "you have to hitch-a-hike!" duly noted.
so we go down to the street and you don't even have to put out your hand, the first car stops, a friendly dude from category 2 driving a beat up VW van asking if he can take us somewhere. he offers me to sit on the bed, a rumpled sheet prospect as repugnant as my brother's stinky lair in high school. he asks the next question "can you roll me a joint though? because i am driving, i can't roll and drive, you know". squeezed in the front seat we set up a little factory operation with papers and tobacco. our driver rummages around the contents of the dashboard, which are as varied as the shelves of a 7-11 (except for the elusive ball of hash). everytime he reaches for something we swerve to within milimeters of the cliff, or dangerous obstacles like telephone poles or the little catholic shrines, the little houses on stone poles with lights and candles and virgin mary's in them that line all the roads. he finally compiles the necessary ingredients, including a nice seashell to mix the ingredients and starts conversation. we stop once to fill up bottles at a little natural water source, which everyone does apparently, even the fire truck which is sitting nearby. my boyfriend asks what to do with "the rest" of hash and dude says, "use it all, man!" oh jeez, this is more than a mortal human would smoke in a month. we are dropped off in the town square, in front of busy café patios, exiting the truck along with a giant pungent plume of smoke, like a Cheech and Chong movie. doesn't seem to phase anyone. i dazily offer our driver some gas money, 2€ or so? he says proudly "no thanks man, biodiesel! patatis!!" and that is how you get around samothraki.