Saturday, December 31, 2016

Here's a virtual toast...

to the dawning of the new Dark Ages.

WARNING: This post is Rated R for Rant and Strong Language.

After Black Tuesday, (Election Day), I "sat Shiva." 

For those of you who aren't of the Jewish persuasion, here is the definition from Wikipedia: 

"Shiva is the week long period of mourning following a loved one's death The word “shiva” means seven, signifying the seven day mourning period in which mourners are supposed to sit low to the ground." 

My deep grief was over the death of the Country I once loved so much. A Nation forged on the noble notion that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." (Declaration of Independence. 1776). 

Lady Liberty was murdered late Election night by President-Elect Scumbag. But just before he slid the knife across her exposed jugular, he reached down and "grabbed her p---y"

Faster than one can say Electoral College, America the Beautiful morphed into America the Badass. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary: : likely to cause trouble : tough and dangerous)

The finality of Death was the only way I could deal with this. 

How could so many Americans go Helen Keller (both deaf and blind) to all the vitriol The Tax Evader was spewing?

How was it possible to ignore the Never-Worked-A-Real-Job  Billionare taunting a handicapped person, his claims that Latinos immigrants were "criminals and rapists," the insane idea of registering Muslims, his threats to throw his opponent in jail or worse, suggesting her Secret Service officers "disarm, let's see what happens to her." 

If your child exhibited behavior as the above mentioned; would you tolerate it?

How about the strange bedfellows his campaign attracted? More endorsements from White Supremacist hate groups than major newspapers or former Presidents. The chants of "Sieg Heil" and "Jews suck a--" at his more vocal rallies. 

Oh yeah, let's not forget the unfurling of the multitude of Confederate flags. The cloth symbol that's it OK for one race to subjugate another race under the pretext of State's Rights. 

Lastly, the infamous "P---y grabbing" comment captured on video in 2005. A zebra can't change his stripes. That's the man who will be the "FaceTime" representative of the US for four long years.

As CNN contributor Van Jones expressed it "You can't polish this turd."

I could go on and on, but I made my point.

Here's my predictions of what might happen. I'm not saying I will bat 1000 on this, but I will get on base more than I'll strike out. Please remove those Ray Ban sunglasses, the future isn't bright. 

This will not be the "Compassionate Conservatism" preached by President George W. Bush. Federally funded Social Welfare programs will be discarded like a half empty glass of Bud Lite with a cigarette butt floating inside. Ironically, many of President Game Show Host's supporters will find their economic life raft torpedoed beneath them. America will truly become a sink or swim society. 

More Americans will fall below the poverty line. There were 43.1 million unfortunates in 2015. This figure will go up. If you think there's a lot of homeless folks out there, wait until 2020. There will be heaps more. 

There will be an increase in Hate Crimes. No need to elaborate on this. It'll happen. Candidate Demagogue unleashed the hate mongers. (Hitler never directly murdered anyone, but his rants were responsible for 11 million victims perishing in Germany's concentration camps.) 

America's influence on the International scene will be marginalized. Our"unpredictable" foreign policy will alienate our present-day allies and create new adversaries. The US will be the schoolyard bully whom all the kids fear, but none want to play with. 

The new Administration will ignore the "Climate Change" issue, even though we rank second in the World for carbon footprint impact. 

There will be no new "reasonable" gun control legislation. The few constraints on procuring firearms will be shot down. Purchasing a weapon of mini-mass death and destruction will be as easy as "Coffee, Tea or Glock?" There will be an uptick in the number of mass murder incidents.

This Administration will be one of the most corrupt and scandal ridden in our Nation's history. It'll be so impressive in this regard, Banana Republic dictators will stand up and take notice. 

There will zero to minimum net gain in acreage of Federal Wilderness Areas, National Parks or Monuments. A few western states will attempt a State Rights Land Grab to gather Federally owned property. Some states will be successful. Roadless area conservation will once again come under fire. The "Varoom! Varoom!" motor driven crowds will win new areas of public lands to trample. All in all, Federally owned land will be managed for the short term. I.E: "Drill, baby drill!" will be the new law of the land. 

The promises of manufacturing jobs materializing out of Mount Everest thin air isn't a reality. Automation and robotics have replaced the need for flesh and blood in many workplaces. Without a revival of "Luddites," those jobs aren't coming back. Big Business doesn't give a poop about creating jobs.It's all about the Bottom Line. 

Economically, look forward to a return of stagflation. 
From Investopedia: "A condition of slow economic growth and relatively high unemployment – economic stagnation – accompanied by rising prices, or inflation, or inflation and a decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). " 
This last prediction came from a "Reliable Source."

For the Commoners, taxes will stay about the same. Health insurance premiums will continue to spiral, with a reduction in benefits. In other words=no change. 

Under President Bravado, the World will be closer to a nuclear holocaust. An impulsive, "my way or the highway" macho man will have his finger on the trigger of the ultimate Pop Gun. 

Lastly, President Scumbag will sashay out of the Oval Office the richest "Bad Hombre" in the World. 

That's it!

In November 2020, Americans will wake up, blink a few times, look around and notice America isn't any greater. In fact, it'll be a lot worse. Many of you will look at the bottle of snake oil you purchased from the Billionaire Con Man, and read the fine print. 
"These four years of Bad Government are non-refundable." 

But there's always HOPE!

By the time 2020 rolls around, I believe most good-hearted Americans will be ready for a Second Renaissance. 

Which is what my candidacy is all about. (There's still an opening for the First Lady spot)

"Let's Make America Civil Again!" 

(I know I wasn't a nice Jewish Boy to President-Elect Scumbag, but even a 5'4", 138 pound, 62 year-old Pacifist feels the need to stand up to a Bully) 
From the Cambridge Dictionary: Scumbag-"a very unpleasant person who has done something dishonest or unacceptable") 

I'm Jeff Sambur and I'll make a better President than the spoiled rich kid who doesn't understand the simple concept of "No! Means No!"

Finally, I'll leave you with my Campaign song. Sure, it's a bit dated but the ideas are needed now more than ever.

"Get Together" by the Youngbloods (1967)
Love is but a song to sing
Fear's the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment's sunlight
Fading in the grass
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
If you hear the song I sing
You will understand (listen!)
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It's there at your command
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
Right now
Right now
If you've made it this far in my post, have a Happy and healthy New Year. I'll be in New Zealand, practicing IPA diplomacy. 
Someone has to tear down the walls this Ugly American Administration will be building.
My future posts will be more upbeat. I'll be doing what I love once again. Visiting beautiful places, taking photos and writing about it. 
Be well. 
DTCP in 20

Monday, November 28, 2016

According to the President-Elect,

A friendship like this should never had happened. 

But it did.

Andy is a former boss, a devout Christian, a non-IPA quaffer, a fifth generation Hispanic-American and a devoted husband, father and now, grandfather. 

In other words he's everything I'm not. The one commonality we share is experiencing the pangs of prejudice. Andy for his skin color and name, me for my religion. 

How did this friendship evolve?

It began in 2013, when I was living in Tucson, AZ. 
A round of the World Baseball Classic was scheduled to take place in nearby Phoenix. Wow! International baseball a mere 90 miles away. I had to go! 

As usual, I went fishing for company. I shot an email out to all the baseball fans I knew. (I always go fishing for company, but usually come back with an empty creel) I got a base hit. It was from Andy. "Let me ask the Mrs. about this," was his response. (I told you he is a devoted husband!) 

A day later, Dora gave Andy the "steal sign." He was free to go. She was supportive enough to book his flight and our hotel rooms near Chase Field. What a woman! 

I picked Andy up at the Phoenix airport on a Friday afternoon in March, 2013. A few hours later we walked into the stadium. 

Team Mexico was playing Team USA. The crowd was mostly from "South of the Border." Mariachi bands were all about. The eagle, serpent and cactus Tri-color flag of Mexico was everywhere. The whole scene was incredibly festive and very International. We were both smiling.

When Andy's "Brown Brothers" saw us together, I could almost hear their thoughts. "Senor! What are you doing with the Gringo?!!!" We were definitely the Odd Couple. 

It was a well played game with Team Mexico coming out on top. Andy and I headed back to our hotel rooms. Once again, we ran the gauntlet of "Senor! What are you doing with the Gringo?" 

Some questions are best left unanswered. 

After three days of baseball, hiking and Happy Hours (me with a few IPAs, Andy with a few soft drinks), the bond was sealed. My old Boss got enrolled as a "brother from another mother" to me. 

If a First Generation American-Jew and a Hispanic Christian can become friends, think of the possibilities. 

I'm Jeff Sambur and I am running for President in 2020 on a platform devoid of hate, bigotry, intolerance and wall building between counttries. Please climb aboard.

DTCP in 20

Sunday, November 20, 2016

My 2020 Presidential Campaign Begins..

with the traditional "Good Luck"  kiss from a baby. 

After all, if a Not-Self-Made Billionaire game show host can become the President, why can't I?
(I guess I'll need a First Lady too.)

I'll approach this campaign with a "We the People"  attitude instead of the recent "Us vs. Them" mode.My speeches will be heavy on American history lessons. I'll talk about our Nation's positives (IE: The U.S. Constitution of 1787, The Antiquities Act of 1906, the Social Security Act of 1935, the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Clean Air and Water Acts of 1970). These ideas displayed our ability to think ahead of the game. A few of these Acts showed our compassionate side. They are clear examples of America at its best. 

I'll also speak about our Nation's digressions; lest we forget to be ever vigilant when Un-American ideas become mainstream. (IE: Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 (Dismantling of Native American Tribes), National Origins Act of 1924 (discriminating immigration quotas), and FDR's Executive Order 9066 of 1942 (Japanese American Exclusion and Internment Order). True Americans should bow their heads in shame when feral ideas become deeds. 

I'll quote Elder Statesmen and inspiring citizens. People who are not only Americans,  but understand what it means to BE an American. It's not about a Stars and Stripes lapel pin or the waving of Old Glory. It's deeper than that. It's about trying to do the right thing. 

My fellow Americans are more than Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip. We are bagels, enchiladas, sushi, dim sum, hummus, poulet aux noix, jambalaya, Indian fry bread, curry and collared greens. We are a diverse lot. Sameness is boring. That's what makes America great. 

I'll espouse a foreign policy based upon predictability and saneness. In a World where nine countries possess 16,300 nuclear weapons, it makes no sense to cause a foreign power to "flinch." (I hate winter, let alone the possibility of a nuclear winter.) 

True leadership is earned by mutual respect and not with "Big Stick" threats. 

I'll be the "Greenest" President since Theodore Roosevelt. I'll wield the powers of the Antiquities Act to place more wild lands under National Monument status. I'll pride myself in saving more acres from being bulldozed, paved and made into strip malls or subdivisions. Your Great-Great Grandkids will thank me. I want to keep America the Land of the Beautiful. 

Their will be no more talk about "draining the swamp." I'll work hard to save wetlands for our fish, fowl and furry friends. They have as much right to live here as we do. (Even though they don't vote or pay taxes.) 

I'll push for a return to teaching "Civics Classes." 

"Understanding of how participation in civic and political life can help citizens achieve individual and public goals. Civics is a subject that touches every person's life. It teaches the value of being an active citizen in the community."


I'll push for classes in just being civil. You don't have to love everyone, but it doesn't cost anything extra to be nice. I'll strive to bring back those long forgotten words such as, "Hello! Please! Excuse me! I'm sorry! and Thank You!" 
It's shouldn't be hard to hold a door open for anyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation, either. 

Lastly, I'll end this campaign announcement with a story.

Two Third Graders are chatting it up in Public School 97 in the Bronx. Suddenly the chubby little girl whips around to the buck toothed boy and says, "I can't talk to you anymore."
Shaken, the boy asked, "Why?" 
The answer? "My parents told me never to talk to Jews. You are Jewish." 

I was that buck toothed boy.

No child should ever experience a scenario such as this. Together we can break this cycle of hate and prejudice. I can't do this alone. I'll need your help.

Eureka! I have a slogan!

"Let's Make America Civil Again." 
(That ought to fit on a baseball hat.) 

I'm Jeff Sambur and I approve this message.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"I'm pretty tired...

I think I'll go home now."

Forrest Gump 1994

I've been in steady motion since April, 2016. I'm not complaining. It's what I do to stave off boredom and sloth. Traveling keeps my mind off the fact, I'm an almost 62 year old single guy in a couples world. Besides, there's not much to blog about if I sit still. 

Before you think, Jeff is going mainstream, read Wikipedia's concept of travel.

"The origin of the word "travel" is most likely lost to history. ... It also states that the word comes from Middle English travailen, travelen (which means to torment, labor, strive, journey) and earlier from Old French travailler (which means to work strenuously, toil)."

See? Traveling all the time ain't easy!

That being said, I've learned the hard way (it's always the hard way with me) there's times to just sit still. Its Fall. The nights are too long and the days and too chilly to be camping out in Barley the Van. It's time to return to civilization. 

So...I'll be stationary for two whole months in Scottsdale, AZ. The city of the pressed designer jean crowd, the Nouveau Riche and assorted other beautiful people. There's so much wealth here the transients wear Gucci shoes when they panhandle. 

And now, there's one Wandering Wondering Jew residing here. I won't kid you. I stand out.  

It's an experiment. I've rented a comfy condo with a real kitchen complete with a stove and full sized refrigerator. There's a TV in the living room with a gazillion channels. I can recline in a La Z Boy lounger. I can watch "The Voice" and "Dancing with the Stars" too. I will be (for two months) a normal American. 

While I'm ensconced in this cushy life, I'll plan out 2017.

Here's some of the highlights for the coming year: New Zealand, World Baseball Classic, Grand Canyon National Park, Southwest Wilderness areas, Colorado for the summer, the Alps in the Fall, etc etc. 

Since I don't know nobody here, fun active visitors are most welcome. If you are just fun and not active, there's always Happy Hour and dinner. 

Hmmm?  I wonder what's on TV tonight?

These photos are from my last six months of travel. No dust was settling under these trail runners...

Cheers from Scottsdale, AZ,

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mr Trump! This blog's for you!

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”, 

While attending Public School 97 in the Bronx, Ms. Pagano would ask all her third graders to stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. This is how our day of learning the "Three R's" began.  We'd face a limp American flag, with our right hands covering our hearts and drone out this long sentence in a chorus of squeaky voices. We were young and probably weren't aware of it's true meaning.

Now I'm older and I get it. Sure it's an idealized notion of what America is all about, but hey, it's a grand goal to strive for.

I'm a first generation American.

My parents escaped a tyrannical maniac who captured a large sphere of influence. That bad hombre vowed to make his nation great again. He too, utilized a religious group as scapegoats for all the world's ills. He too, singled out others for special treatment I.E. Gays, Gypsies, Political Opponents, Jehovah's Witnesses and Jews. He too, spoke about "Roundups."

 Unfortunately, Mr. Hitler's rants became deeds. 

My parents barely got out. Clara and Sid met, married and raised three sons. My parents learned English, worked hard, paid taxes and stayed out of trouble. They fulfilled the American Dream. I believe they were model citizens.

Mr. Trump, my humble, middle-class parents would have been appalled at your candidacy. They fled the Old World on a slow boat to the New World to get away from leaders like you. 

Now you are making headlines by saying you will not accept November 8th election results if you lose. You claim the election is "rigged" without showing any evidence. 

True, we live in a country which guarantees the freedom of speech. But there's limits to this right. Your incendiary comments are the equivalent of screaming "Fire! Fire!" in a crowded movie theater when there is no clear or present danger. This is Irresponsible and unprecedented in a presidential campaign.

Mr. Trump, the U.S. usually has a relatively smooth transitions of power. There's a political tradition of the losing candidate conceding the election and bowing out gracefully. 

This election has been nothing like the usual. Basic civility has been jettisoned. The 2016 presidential election has made an episode of the Jerry Springer show look as docile as a Red Hat Society tea party. 

Mr. Trump, take the high road if this election doesn't go your way. This election is bigger than you;  it's 240 years of democracy at stake. Pay attention to these words spoken by another fellow Republican named Abraham Lincoln.

From Abe's Gettysburg Address: 

"and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." 

If Mr. Lincoln wasn't right, then all those brave men and women interred in our National Cemeteries died in vain. 

Mr. Trump, please think about this...

To my other readers: 
If you like the ideas behind this blog, feel free to share it.
If you don't, feel free to delete it.

Please vote responsibly,

PS. I'll end this post with a recent quote from Senator John McCain. 

"I didn’t like the outcome of the 2008 election. But I had a duty to concede, and I did so without reluctance,” he said. “Free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power are the pride of our country, and the envy of much of the world because they are the means to protecting our most cherished values, the right to liberty and equal justice.”

BTW: Senator McCain is a true American Hero. Everyone who serves in our Nation's Military is a hero, whether they were a POW or not. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My Big Fat Greek...


"You can observe a lot by just watching."
Yogi Berra

My trip to the Hellenic Republic was like no other. I arrived with a minimum amount of preparation and very few expectations. It was sort of like traveling in a jam session. I wasn't sure how or where this overseas session would end.

I'm happy to report, it all worked out.

During my time on the island of Naxos, the Big Mac-sized island of Crete and the capital city of Athens, I took mental notes and often Googled to learn more about the people of Greece.

Here's some facts and personal observations:

There's 10.9 million Greeks. In 2015, those nice Greeks entertained an amazing 26.5 million visitors. (I began to refer to Greece as the Mexico of the Mediterranean). Tourism contributes 18% to this economically hurting nation's Gross Domestic Product. Yet, unemployment is the highest in the Eurozone at 23%.

Greeks also score the highest in smoking rates in Europe and the rest of the world. Over 40% inhale cancer sticks. Ashtrays are as prevalent as Sagebrush in the Western US. The Greeks flick ash at the concept of non-smoking areas. 

For a people who introduced the World to two major athletic events (the Marathon and the Olympics), they now abhor exercise. I rarely met locals on my many trail meanderings. My Greek Guide Anastasia summed it up this way, "Greeks will only walk if there's a coffee house as the destination." They pace themselves well.

Greeks don't move too fast, except when they get behind the wheel of their tiny sedans. Then these laid back, Raki drinking, olive eating people become the reincarnation of Dale (the Intimidator) Earnhardt. Competitive tailgating seems to be a major sport. Yes, the Greeks lead the Eurozone in accident rates too. In 2015, 1600 citizens lost their lives playing the ultimate game of "Chicken." 

But Hey! Nobody's Perfect! I found the Greeks to be friendly, generous and helpful, even though their language was Greek to me! Many speak a passable form of English. They have to. The Greek language and alphabet probably isn't taught in many other countries. 

Would I go back to this country of blue skies, white-washed painted villages, warm temperatures and sandy beaches? Heck yes! Although it would be better to arrive as a couple instead of a solo traveler. Towards the end of my trip, I got tired of eating my Greek Salads alone. Greece is a couples destination similar to Hawaii. Singles are as rare as a jogging Greek.

I just wish the locals could do something about all those elderly, overweight, naked German invaders. It's very unsightly. 

I'm back in Colorado, (land of good beer, coffee and great friends and family members)

In case you missed my other Greek posts:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Day in Athens...

Of course I visited the Parthenon! 

Every human regardless of race, creed, religion or color goes there while in the Hellenic Republic. 

It's an old amazing place. This civic works project began in 447 BC in tribute to the Goddess Athena. When I saw the relics, I realized those workers weren't paid on a Union scale. It took a lot of effort to move those marble Doric columns. 

The Parthenon has a complicated history (like Greece). There were the ancient Greeks,  of course. Then came the Persians, Venetians, Romans, Franks, Visigoths, folks from the Ottoman Empire and a few impact players from the United Kingdom. And not necessarily in that order. Yes, there was heaps of plundering and destruction. (It's always a bad day when those Visigoths turn up unannounced.) 

Now the invasion force arrives from all over Planet Earth. Regardless of the human's origins, everyone shells out €20 for the privilege to invade the site. There weren't many complaints. 

Here's heaps of photos. Including a tourist posing in front of the Ancient Temple of Selfie Sticks. AKA the Temple of Narcissism. 

In the last two pix is a comparison of my trail companions within a 48 hour span. 
Yes, the number of two legged animals have been sort of overwhelming. 

"Back to the US! Back to the US!" Manana.
A paraphrase from the Beatles,

It's been fun!

Monday, October 10, 2016

I got parboiled on Crete...

while hiking a teenie weenie bit of the ultra-long distance E4 trail. For those unfamiliar with the E4 (like me before I arrived on Crete), it's a 10,000 plus kilometers jaunt from Portugal through lots of other European countries culminating on the Greek Island of Cypress. In other words, it's longer than America's Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail combined! 

I think you would need more than one pair of trail runners to complete it.

I asked a few locals their opinion on attempting to hike 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) in one day. They then looked at me in a funnier way than usual. 

One helpful man said, "That's a two day hike! It's hot and there's little drinking water along the way. The trail is rocky too." 
This man was correct on all counts.

Here's the trail description from Wikipedia: 

"A walk can take longer than anticipated because of poor way marking, or because paths are blocked, or dangerously eroded. Walkers should therefore be prepared for long diversions, and never presume that you will reach the intended destination, including the final one, on time, or on a specific day."

In an olive nutshell, the trail stinks on ice! Although today, a chunk of frozen water would have been received as a gift from the Greek Gods. 

Plus! There were heaps of naked elderly German couples along the E4's beaches and coves. I strode past one group in the morning. They were still sunning their sexual organs four hours later! They hadn't moved or even twitched. How much vitamin D does a body need?  

It was so hot, I decided to take a dip in the Libyan Sea. I went in naked as the morning Clara Sambur gave birth to me. I found a pocket of isolation to partake in my birthday suit ablution. The water sizzled as I submerged myself. Let me tell you, I was HOT! 

Look at the photos: the scenery is reminiscent of a seaside Death Valley National Park. Pretty stark. 

I'm working on chugging the second gallon of water for the day. It's Happy Hour so I'm mixing the H2O with a dark lager. 

Hydration is the key to health and survival.

From Hora Station,

From the last photo: check out the trail's designers. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Samaria National Park Incorporated ...

It's all about the Euros. 

When I was Googling places to hike on Crete, this Greek National Park rose to the top of the search engine. Many websites announced it to be a "must see" destination. How could I resist? 

So... I pointed my battered and gutless rental car to this splotch of green displayed on my Crete map. Little did I know a multitude of tour buses occupied by Wannabe Wilderness Warriors would be converging there at the same time.

I consider myself to be a connoisseur of quiet pretty places. I spent last summer gliding along on many earthy trails. I saw beauty all around me. I felt so at ease, I was even sleeping peacefully. All was good in my world.

I tried my luck in the Hellenic Republican. On this hike, the Greek Gods weren't handing me their blessings. This might be the reason.

The country of Greece is undergoing a financial crisis. Unemployment is running at an unfathomable 23.2%. This is the highest jobless rate in the Euro Zone. Tourism is a major industry. It creates service jobs and brings in a year round influx of cash. Making Euros off of hikers is one way to stimulate the economy. 

Hence, lots of determined Germans, gossipy French, fashionably dressed Italians, families with dour looking children in tow, two beer guzzling Dudes, and one Wandering Wondering Jew were all forced to occupy the same dicey 16 kilometers (10 mile) descent at the same time. I often said "Excuse Me" as I squeezed by in search of a stretch of solitude. I've seen New York City streets that were less peopled. 

For my fellow trail companions, their amble to the Libyan Sea and village of Agia Roumeli would end with a ferry ride followed by a bus back to their starting point in the city of Chania. A very long drawn out and pricey day.

I decided to spend the night in Agia Roumeli and turn around and hike out the following morning. Sort of a Greek version of a typical Grand Canyon experience. Let me tell you, this seaside village is no Phantom Ranch.

Right away, I noticed a vibe I hadn't experienced before in Greece. Shopkeepers, restaurant owners and even hotel clerks looked upon the worn out trekkers like hyenas circling a maimed gazelle. We were all fresh meat and they were coming in for the economic kill. It turned me off for my stay there. I was fleeced a few times in less than 16 hours. I.E: I was charged €17 for two eggs swimming in an ocean of olive oil, three pieces of stale toast and a cup of tepid coffee. At least the proprietor said "thank you" when I called him on it. (Not all the merchants were like the above description, I just ran into the few bad gyros!) 

I then shouldered my backpack and headed uphill feeling used and violated. After paying €5 to a Park "Warden." I entered the gorge. It was quiet enough to hear my own crunching footsteps. I was enjoying the moment knowing eventually the downhill hiking hordes would appear. I passed rest areas devoid of people. Their empty picnic tables and cigarette ash trays awaited the coming crowds.

I made it 8 kilometers up before I met my first seagoing walkers. I began counting. The result surprised me. In a 8 kilometer (5 mile) survey, I saw 650 humans. (Margin of error plus or minus 3%). Believe it or not, this is the low season for visitation. On a busy day, there's over 1,500 adventurers cramming the trail.

Sadly, the Samaria National Parks administration has lost sight of their own management goals. From the Park's brochure: 

"Visitors have the occasion for a deep, true and meaningful contact with the natural landscape, plants and animals, opening themselves up to nature." 

More like opening up your wallet/purse! 

I understand the Park's plight. Theirs too many jobs and much needed cash on the line. I also know that this incident is the exception instead of the rule. Most of my hikes have been  uncrowded and relaxed. 

For the most part, Greeks are helpful, friendly, honest and generous. They enjoy smiling as much as I do too. 

This by and large has been a really great break from my usual journeys. I've already marked Greece as a return destination one day.

From a seaside village with a name that looks like Hora Station to my Gringo eyes,


About the photo with the ladder on the rock. I suppose you climb there in case of a flash flood.