24 May 2018

Help! Part III

"Are you okay?"
Some of these questions are asked by passersby who obviously don't speak English as a primary language.
I'm holding a napkin one of them offered against the wound. That napkin, and my right tennis shoe are rapidly filling with dark, burgundy-wine colored blood.
"No... I have no doubt I have broken my ankle."

One of the donkey teams passes by; the leader of the pack shouting at the animals to motivate them further down the cliff.
"Are you okay sir?", in heavily Greek accented English. I reply that I'm hurt.
"We will send someone to help", he says.

Another team of donkeys passes. A couple in that team stops, dismounts, and insists Sara Jean and I mount their animals. I'm worried about this...
One good leg. Probably, (almost certainly), in a mild state of shock. How safe can I be on this animal? How ironic would it be to mount up trying to head to safety, only to fall off the donkey's back and crash to the hard walkway below and further hurt myself?

We have sent Big Bubba ahead for help. I make the decision to mount up, and hope to meet litter carriers on their way up to fetch me. At least this donkey ride may help cut the rescue time somewhat.
The guy and his wife that originally rented the donkeys help Sara Jean and I climb aboard. I'm pleasantly surprised I can get on the animal's back. SJ has never ridden a horse, or a donkey, and she's no doubt more worried than me about this downhill trek.
My newfound rescuer stays alongside me, continually asking, "Do you feel faint? If you get light-headed you LET ME KNOW!" He's smart enough to know what a risk we're taking.
Sara Jean continues to make sounds like she's not at all happy to be aboard an animal that is just as unhappy to be headed downhill, away from its stable, food, and water.

We go downhill, turn, go downhill, turn, go downhill, turn...
I'm hanging on for dear life to a saddle that has no horn like I'm accustomed to on a horse. On this saddle there is a hole big enough to put both hands into to hold on. My strength is suspect.
I'm doin' the best I can.

Downhill, turn. Downhill, turn.
Finally we reach the water's edge. Thank Goodness there's a wall wide enough for me to dismount the animal. An argument ensues between the donkey leader and the folks that originally rented the animals... he wants to be paid again for his trouble. They refuse, telling him they already paid for the ride and they are NOT gonna pay again. Much shouting goes on for awhile, but my new American friends stand fast.
With help from two strong guys, I hop to a chair and sit down, just glad to be off the cliff.
A man introduces himself as "An agent of the boat". He says he'll help us to get the help we need.
Our luggage is still on the ship. We assume our son is headed back from the boat, having informed them of our situation. The "boat agent" informs us we are NOT going back to the ship; we are to be transported to a clinic in Santorini, then airlifted to a hospital in Athens.
Our wonderful cruise is over. They're throwing us off the ship.
(To be continued.)

22 May 2018

Help! Part Two-

(If you have not read part 1, scroll down and read the post below first.)

We had been sitting in the small, poorly ventilated cable car about half an hour. We'd hear a warning buzzer and the door would close, then almost immediately reopen. It was obvious something was wrong with the apparatus... not a confidence inspiring situation when your life depends on man-made stuff to work exactly as advertised.
Finally, an attendant came and said, "The lift is broken. You can wait for it to be fixed, or you can get a refund and choose another way down."
A special buffet dinner was set up for the evening on the ship and we had an hour to get back for it. The walk downhill on the steps would take 30 minutes. It was time to get going. So we got going.

The steps are wide. They consist of softball-sized stones embedded in concrete and are worn and slick in some places, but I felt no danger walking them. The view? Incredible. Our destination, the "Azamara Journey", lay peacefully anchored in the water  before us, looking like a toy ship from our perspective.
With the lift inoperable, lots of people were doing the same thing we were... hiking down. So there were lots of individuals on the steps combined with the up and down traffic of the donkey teams also carrying folks back to the tenders. It was busy, but still not worrisome. I couldn't keep my eyes off the view below. THIS experience was the entire reason we had scheduled this $$$$$ cruise!

There are places in the steps where repairs have been made and the edges of the steps have been rounded into slopes, rather than 90-degree edge steps.
I was an idiot. I was gawking at the beautiful sight below. I was NOT paying close attention to where my feet fell. I stepped on one of the "repairs" and felt my leg slip. My dominant (right) leg immediately got deployed to break my fall. What happened then seemed to unfold in slow motion-
I looked down at my right ankle just in time to see it turn to an angle no ankle should ever reach. At that point the skin separated enough I could see the ball exposed on the inside of the ankle, and a jagged piece of bone tearing the skin. Absolutely NO question... it was broken.
Still, you don't want to believe this is happening to you.
I tried to get to my feet. The right foot wobbled like a mechanic's universal joint.

I'm halfway down the long, long steps at Santorini with pedestrian and donkey traffic moving all around me. I cannot get down on my own. What happens now?
Will the ship or someone at the landing send a stretcher up to fetch me?
Will they send a donkey for me to ride down... with a bum foot and probably in a state of shock?
I'm angry about putting myself and my family in this situation.
I HATE being out of control.

But here I am... out of control.
(To be continued.)

Help! I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up!

Just getting to the Mediterranean is difficult. We spent the better part of a full day in airplanes and airports just to get to Athens, Greece. We arrived feeling like Zombies, and taxi'ed to our hotel.

Athens is a puzzle. It is OLD, but it has modern facilities. Traffic is horrible... lots of small cars and a nearly equal number of motorcycles and motorscooters, ridden by helmetless riders zipping in and out between cars and buses and lane-splitting. I feared for their lives more than they did!

At the hotel o
ur room had single beds for the three of us, a TV with six or so channels... all in Greek with the exception of CNN and MSNBS. Ugh.
It had ONE power outlet... marked 240V. Luckily, this ain't Big Bubba's first European rodeo, and he brought along an adapter/converter.

Following morning we ate a (free with room) breakfast buffet, then departed for the Acropolis on foot... 8-tenths of a mile... uphill, through very narrow streets lined with shops and streetside cafes.
The Acropolis was PACKED with people. Most of these people were consumed by stopping in the middle of walkways in order to take "selfies". Trying to navigate the grounds was irritating, to say the least. I wondered... "Is there a season to come with fewer self-absorbed people here?"

Walking back to the hotel we depended on Big Bubba's GPS to direct there safely. We stopped at a cafe we had passed on the way up and had a very nice lunch, with people, dogs and cats literally walking through the narrow street that ran through the middle of the restaurant. There are lots and lots of cats around. I assume they are tolerated by residents to keep the rodent population under control.

We boarded the cruise ship, the "Azamara Journey" Sunday. It's amazing to watch how these cruise businesses efficiently handle people and baggage to get them aboard. The whole process took less than half an hour.

Our Stateroom was small, but adequate, with a queen-size bed and a chair that made into a single for BB. Our TV had many channels to choose from, including Fox News! Hooray!
This is a small ship, with only 700 passengers. The other cruises we have taken had ships containing 3000 guests. We've decided we MUCH prefer the smaller ships.

We woke Monday anchored in the harbor at Mykonos. After breakfast we tendered to the Island and walked around. It is clean, bright, (whitewashed structures, like many of the islands), and safe feeling.

Tuesday morning found us at the pier in Kusadasi, Turkey. Again, after breakfast, we made our way to buses for the 30-minute ride to Ephesus. It is impossible to describe what is happening there.
It was a city of 240,000 people until earthquakes and the adjacent river showed us that Mother Nature is ALWAYS in charge. We took a two-hour walking tour and were surrounded by ancient relics the entire time. Ephesus, (and virtually ALL the Mediterranean), makes us reflect how "shiny and new" our country still is.

Wednesday morning we woke in Rhodes, Greece. Old, old, old fortifications on the pier and in sight just off the bow of the ship indicate this was an important place that needed to be protected. Although we stayed in town, relatively close to the ship, there were available tours to be taken to many ancient, beautiful sites. One day, we intend to return and see them when we can do it more leisurely.

Thursday we opened our curtain to a breathtaking sight.
We were anchored in the harbor at Santorini, really the reason for booking the entire cruise. The whitewashed town at the top of the hill was Fira, accessible by cable lift cars, up 500 steps via walking, or by donkey. The cruise director warned we should ONLY take the cable cars... the steps are slippery and treacherous! We went up via the lift... about $7.
From there we walked to a scooter rental place and rented ATV's to ride to another town on the island... Oia. The views along the way were simply SPECTACULAR. It's unfair really for the driver, because you must concentrate on the road and not the great views. Run off the road in certain places and it'll be a long time before you say "oof" and are injured or killed.

We arrived in Oia, parked the 4-wheelers, and started walking the walkways. For my FaceBook friends, many photos and videos will be posted there to show how magnificent this place is... I'm guessing almost 2000 feet above the water.
We stopped at a restaurant for refreshments and a bite to eat, then returned to the ATV's for the ride back to Fira.

We returned the machines and made our way back to the lift, bought our tickets to ride back down the hill, and entered our little car.
And sat. And sat. And sat.
We sat for 30 minutes in 90-degree heat before someone finally came to tell us the lift was out of service. We could either wait to see if it was fixed, or they would refund our money and we could walk or ride donkeys down.

And that, dear friends, begins the REST of the story, (to be continued).

05 May 2018

Bank of (Part of) America-

Yesterday I closed two accounts with Bank of America... one of which had been active for over 35 years.
"Can I ask why you are closing these accounts?"
"Certainly. I'm a retired ARMY Viet Nam Veteran and I still support and defend the Constitution."
... Puzzled look on her face...
"I don't understand."
So I educated her.

Our country is in more trouble than I imagined.
And even reasonably intelligent people have NO idea.