There is something strange in the woods of Skopelos

Someone made a horrible mistake with the Skopelos maps for tourists. On these maps, there’s a red road from Skopelos Town straight to Neo Klima, the “resort” where we were staying. The map legend conveniently says red roads are “main roads” (no mention of tarmac), yellow roads are “asphalt roads” and white roads are “dirt roads”. The road I’m talking about is drawn on the map as red from end to end.

One evening, I decided to take that road. Little did I know, obviously.

It went quite well for about 10 km. The road, although narrow and abrupt, seemed fine. It was dusk, and I had been reading Stephen King. Besides, my wife always has premonitions with shortcuts.

We were both silent, trying to ignore the GPS’s constant babbling, knowing it had it all wrong. Very wrong. Turn right. And fall off this cliff, GPS lady ?

“One wrong turn and we’re screwed”, my wife said. I knew that. My instinct performed well that night and I actually made no wrong turns.

It was a beautiful route, though, through pine forests. Some isolated houses, a cluster of lights in a valley, indicating a mountain village.

Then we got to an intersection, with a nice wide road, which goes up to the island’s helipad and crosses the main road. I should have taken that road.

A few km up, the tarmac ended and then I realized what it means to get a map wrong. There followed about 6 km through the forest, on a dirt road. It wasn’t actually so bad, but it did have the ocasional diagonal ditch, boulders and potholes.

The hard part was looking at my wife, who had a “I told you so” look on her face and maybe she even said it once or twice.

I lowered my window and drove carefully, 10-20 km/h, smoking a cigarette, until I realized that a beast might rip my arm off and then I put the cigarette out, raised the window and took a few deep breaths. Enough to get a little whiff of goat. The smell grew thicker and thicker, although there were no goats anywhere. I didn’t ask for a confirmation from my wife, for fear of another “Told you so”. So, I’m happy to say that there might just be a ghost flock of goats on Mount Daphni, on the island of Skopelos.

At one point, as we had passed the watershed and started descending towards the west coast of the island, I noticed a car on one of the many paths that spread from the road. I don’t know what exactly was happening in that car or who was more afraid of who, but they started the engine and got right in front of us. Thoughts of rape, torture, hold-ups, axe murders and bloody pine trees swarmed through my head, I admit. But probably through the mind of the guy in the other car, as well.

They changed course after about 500 m, taking a sharp left, which apparently led nowhere on my GPS and looked more like a precipice. They might be stranded even now.

And then, abruptly, the road became nice, polished, brand new tarmac again. As if the Greeks said: We can do it, but we won’t.

It was the shortest distance from Skopelos town to Neo Klima, but undoubtedly one of the longest trips I’ve ever taken.