October 21, 2012

Iím on a boat!

OK, Iím not on a boat.

But I was!

I spent the day on the Aegean Sea, exploring the volcanic caldera at the heart of Santorini. You see, 3700 years ago, a REALLY BIG VOLCANO had a REALLY BIG ERUPTION here. The eruption was so big, in fact, that all of the magma chambers beneath the volcano collapsed when they were emptied, basically creating an inverted mountain. The islands of Santorini make up the edge of this volcano, and the space within their ring is 400m deep (which is DEEP). Over time, more volcanic eruptions have created another land mass in the center of the caldera, and I was interested in walking into an active volcano (sure sounds like a good idea), so I booked a boat trip that would take me there.

I took the cable car from Fira down to the port. I could have walked down the stairs, but this would have taken about thirty minutes and the steps are covered in donkey shit. (Fira sits on a cliff 1000 feet above the sea ó the only way up or down is by steep marble steps, cable car, or donkey.)

I chewed some motion sickness gum (weird, but it was the only thing they had at the pharmacy) and then climbed aboard a wooden boat for passage out to the volcano. It was REALLY WINDY out on the water, much windier than normal, so the trip was an adventure. Lots of ups and downs. Because of my magical gum, however, the ride was fun and not even a little bit horrible. (I like boats. I love boats, in fact. As long as I am heavily medicated.)

The volcano was pretty cool. Barren, rocky, treacherous paths up to the top, and then a big olí pit full of ashy rock. (No lava.) The hike was steep but relatively short, and the views were incredible. Santorini rises so high above the water; from a distance, its villages are only small white mantles covering the surface.

We then proceeded on to another small island for lunch, and then on to Oia. By this point, the wind had picked up even more, but I nevertheless resumed my seat at the very, very front of the boat, sitting cross legged on the bow, almost at the spot where a figurehead would be.


The boat took on every wave like a champ, riding its crest skyward and then hanging in the air for a moment before plummeting back down into the water, rolling forward at an angle before heaving up again. Everyone on the boat was screaming and laughing hysterically, clinging onto one another and any rope they could find. There were actually a couple of times where people slid off of their seats and rolled onto the deck. I have no idea if we were in any real danger; if we were, we would have gone down laughing. It was so fun. Being at the VERY FRONT OF THE BOAT, I held on for dear life, trying to keep my eyes open despite the huge spray and my great elevation followed by an alarming proximity to the surface of the water. The trip from Thirasia to Oia was about thirty minutes, and I think I was screaming for at least twenty-five.

Man, you should have seen my hair when the boat finally docked.

Stumbling punchdrunk and seahappy, I made my way back to Renataís to shower (seriously, my hair was ridiculous) and catch my breath. I then went back into town to a bar to get dinner and check email. After a bit, Renata joined me for a drink, and we talked about everything before making our way home to bed.