We arrived in Rhodes after an uneventful flight from Athens and took our very first taxi ride of the whole trip to our small hotel. We were surprised that we had never taken a taxi, even on our first day, when we took the Underground from Heathrow to our hotel.
And then we took our very first bus of the trip (excluding a hotel/airport shuttle, which really doesn’t count). And this bus turned out to be quite a ride.
A bus, of course, is a great way to see how the locals live, and to immerse yourself in a culture in a way that cannot be done in a car. Our first bus ride showed us how interesting living like the locals can really be.
We started out waiting for the bus in the square in our town of Pastida to the main town on the island of Rhodes, which is also called Rhodes. The bus was scheduled to arrive at 2:15, but we were advised to get there by 2:00, because if the bus gets there and sees nobody, it does not wait around. At first we were not even sure if we were waiting in the right place, but we asked around, and assured ourselves that if we stood in front of the Taverna John, we were in the right place. The bus finally arrived at 2:35.
And so did our first taste of “local culture.” As it happens, Rhodes was not engineered with modern traffic in mind. Its streets are narrow. And congested. And sometimes fender benders are bound to occur. So I guess we should not have been surprised that the first thing that happened when the bus pulled up–even before we could get on–is the bus sideswiped a parked truck. The bus driver and the truck owner both emerged and shouted at each other. And then they figured out how to separate the vehicles and they drove off, both with a couple of new dents. But not the first, and probably not the last.
And then the real adventure began. Apparently because of the time of day, our bus was full of teenaged school children, mostly in the 12-14 age range. We thought we had maybe boarded the school bus by mistake. They thought they had never seen such a funny looking family, particularly gangly Dan with the tourist hat.
But after the first three minutes of this fish-out-of-water discomfort, the school kids mostly forgot about us, and carried on with their ordinary activities–yelling, flirting, wrestling, checking out their new ringtones, and just being cool. In fact, if you saw a silent movie of this event, you could not tell whether the scene was in Greece, Denver, or anywhere else.
But the bus ride was not just like Denver. Apropos of nothing, Theo said if he could be anywhere, he would choose to be on the Space Mountain ride at Disney. I told him to close his eyes, and he was pretty much there. The bus whisked around the narrow roads, past curves, up and down the hills, through maybe 20 of the island’s 43 towns, and finally to the end of the line in Rhodes, where the driver told everyone to get off.
As we leave Europe, with its treasure trove of major historical sites, and move to places with fewer monuments, we hope to shift our emphasis from studying artifacts to learning about how people live. So we are excited about our upcoming career of bus riding. May all rides be so informative!