Not quite ‘up the creek without a paddle’, but one day Edmundo and I were on a spluttering quad bike belching black fumes and pointing in the wrong direction up a narrow one way street with oncoming shirtless Greek gods on scooters whizzing around us at a rate of knots – without a reverse gear!
If you could have seen Edmundo (the look on his face and terror in his recriminating voice!) and me pushing and pulling every device on the handle bars in hope that it might be reverse gear. And then having to resort to straightening all four wheels and letting it roll backwards until I could find enough room to turn in a forward direction.
That stupid woman in the hire shop!
We’d walked for an hour in the hot afternoon sun looking to hire one of the bikes that we see (and narrowly avoid) whizzing along the narrow streets of ‘downtown Spetses’. Finally, in desperation and soon to expire from the heat, I see one outside a very closed-up shop and ring the number over the door. Five minutes later, a lady appears and takes my Australian Drivers Licence as security (and my money), before demonstrating the basics of a clapped-out old faded red bike; and then informs us that we need to get gas. The gas station in the centre of town through the narrowest of streets of whizzing bikes and workers vans. Blow! But we are determined to circumnavigate the 25 miles around this island, today.
I slap the sun protection cream on my forelegs for the arduous journey ahead of us while t
I slap the sun protection cream on my forelegs for the arduous journey ahead of us while the lady straightens the bike up for us pointing it towards town. (I should have wondered why.) We jerk forward from a standing start with Edmundo hanging on for grim death as I get the feel of the accelerator button on the right hand handle bar (or was it the left? No that’s the brake. You can see we’re safe to let loose on public roads). The machine throbs between our legs and splutters noisily expelling a thick trail of black soot behind us like the tulle behind the bus in ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ movie.
We set off to the waterfront (with Edmundo fearing that I’m going too fast around the corner and we’ll end up in the sea). Then along past the grand, century-old Poseidon Hotel currently undergoing major renovation, dodging lumbering cement mixer trucks, bumping over potholes, and into the busy port area where we have daily coffee and spinach pie. On, up to the edge of town, we lookout for the one narrow lane down to the petrol bowser. But no! We miss it and end up, ‘up the one-way street without reverse gear!’
Circumnavigation is over. Edmundo demands we return the damn bike – immediately. I got my licence and my money back as hire shop lady nonchalantly advises us that we could return another day saying “That model doesn”t have reverse gear. I”ll have one for you tomorrow!”