In Greece: Learning the Metric System and How to say “Please”

On our way to the market in Naxos.
© Stephanie Glaser

“What do you want?” a small voice asked from somewhere near the deli counter where I was standing in a 7-11esque convenience store in Naxos, Greece.  The question was definitely more a demand for information than an exercise in customer service.

I peered over the counter and spotted a skinny eight-year-old Greek boy in neon board shorts and a faded tank top with “I’d Rather Be Surfing – Greek Isles” peeling off the front.  He emerged from behind the counter because a shelf topped with various sausages and soft cheeses obscured his view.

I looked around for an adult proprietor.  An older woman with a tight bun, dressed in a loose-fitting floral sundress, sitting by the cash register seemed to fit the bill. A young girl wearing the same patterned sundress counted change next to her.  Meanwhile, the proprietor read what appeared to be a Greek tabloid.

The boy, however, moved directly in front of me. Despite the fact that I could have placed my beach bag on the top of his head, he was an intimidating presence with his arms crossed against his chest. Tapping his fingers along his tiny bicep, he waited for my response. It didn’t take body language fluency to figure out that this kid was irritated.  Indeed, it was evident — he would rather be surfing.

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Can you get me to the Iría?

The interior of Naxos.
Photo © Stephanie Glaser

Having just spent a week driving a motorscooter around Italy’s beautiful but treacherous Imalfi coast, justifiably, my friend Indira had picked up either bravado or a deathwish.   Consequently, she was fearless driving a motorscooter on the empty roads crossing the barren landscape of the Greek island of Naxos.

Afraid of wrecking on my moped and scraping off all my skin, I proceeded slowly.  And despite wearing the most massive helmet that the island of Naxos had to offer, one that looked like it would withstand even intergalactic travel to the Death Star, I still puttered well behind Indira and Katherine, a friend we had met on the ferry from Athens.

It didn’t take long before I became separated from Indira and Kari. Basically, I was lost. On the interior of this island, the immediate surroundings all looked the same: lots of scrub brush and an occasional windmill, goat or donkey. I stopped and tried to get my bearings. I sure seemed to be in the middle of Naxos’s nowhere.

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