A friend just sent me this little piece of advice. "She travels light who travels alone."
It came at an appropriate time for me when I came to the parting of the ways with my travel companion. No surprise, really, as this particular person has proved unreliable on the road in the past and (as usual) we parted on strained terms. This time it was her incessasant neurotic raving about mosquitos (among other things such as her opinionated, self-centered and usually bigoted commentaries on other subjects). I got tired early on of hearing "I shall do this" and it all being what she wanted to do. I'm a pretty compliant person but found I was biting my tongue to keep from retorting whenever she went of on one of her rants and insisted on doing only what she wanted to do.
Traveling with a friend means you are two and it's give and take. In this case it was me being the compliant one all the time to accomodate what she wanted to do. (Remember something when traveling with a friend: There is no "I" in "TEAM")
We had been enjoyed a day on Poros Island when I learned of my dear friend Dora's death and was trying to keep my mind occupied on positive thoughts. So when I was invited for drinks on to a posh yacht, asked because the yacht guy wanted to hear more about my novel, I grabbed the opportunity. Of course I included my travel companion even though she seemed reluctant and negative about the invitation.
The yacht "Scott Free"
We went on board, and believe me it was a mind-boggling experience to see what luxury these people can afford. And they were very nice people, a Greek American and his wife and family from US. We had wine and an excellent discussion on Greek history (mainly about Alexander). I tried included my friend as she is a classical scholar, and she did her bit of pontificating about what she knew but the family seemed more interested in what I was telling them about Alexander and my experiences living in and visiting Greece over the past 32 years.
When they mentioned they were hading for Kefalonia island I raved about it (I've been there 4 times and love that island!). My friend interjected that they ought not to go there if they were allergic to mosquitos. I made light of it saying I'd never seen any there and if there were any they would be sure to find her. When we got off the yacht and began walking back to the hotel, she launched into a non-stop verbal rant at me accusing me of making an 'obnoxious' comment and going on and on and on about how mosquitos could kill her and how I didn't understand about people with allergies. (Yes I do. I used to work in daycare where we had strict cautions about kids with peanut and other allergies. And although I don't seem to have allergies of my own I know others who do and they do not rave on incessantly like she does).
Anyway this rant went on ad nauseum even after I asked her to stop and leave me alone to which she replied 'Yes, I'll leave you alone. I'm going back to Athens!" No surprise to me. She always bails out when things aren't to her liking. But what got me was the non-stop rant which she would not quit even when I tried to go to bed, until I lost it and had to actually 'scream' at her to shut up and leave me alone. At one point I tried explaining that I was feeling bad about my dear friend's death but she simply didn't understand and dismissed this. Anyway, we parted ways the next day, although it took two days to get her monologue out of my head. But once I did, believe me, my trip took an definite positive upswing! She tried hard to spoil this trip for me but I wouldn't let her and frankly she spoiled it for herself as I had a grand time!
I've been an intrepid solo traveler since my early childhood. My parents should have gone gray early on with my escapades. And once I got my adult freedom -- kids grown and on my own -- I was off and running up the road to adventure.
Now and then, though, I have agreed to travel with a friend. (I have only once gone on a group tour and that proved to be the most lonely time I've ever had!) There have been some good trips, with travel companions who have been fun and co-ordinated their plans with mine. One special trip was when I went to Venice with my friend Ingrid. We had also had a successful trip to England and Greece the previous year. And I have another girlfriend, Cheryl, who has made some excellent short-run trips around BC with me. It was fun being tour guide for my sister and niece and there are also other accompanied journeys I've made that have worked out okay (with just a few snags along the way). But sometimes there are time when traveling with a friend simply does not work out. And this time, when I agreed to let my Norwegian friend join me on the trip I'd planned to the Mani in the south Peloponnese, I had some trepidations but dismissed them. I shouldn't have. For one thing, she said she wasn't interested in the Mani and only wanted to lay on a beach. That was my signal that this wasn't going to work. Every time I've agreed to travel with this person it has ended up in an unpleasant disaster. I had even laid bets with myself this time as to how long it would take before the poop hit the fan. It only took four days.
Dora's Sunset (this was taken the night I stood on the shore and said prayers for my dear friend who had passed)
So now I am solo again. Aside from the fact I am feeling devastated over the news of my very dear friend's death, and really had looked forward to sharing my travel companions company on this trip to the south Peloponnese, her attitude just didn't fit with mine and the trip ended today. I'm off tomorrow to Nauplion and hopefully will make a connection south to Gythion. It's a bit convoluted and may go through Sparta, but I've been that route before - solo - so it shouldn't be worrisome for me. I guess it's just the sadness I feel over the loss of my friend Dora, and wanting to have company (someone who understood and could give me a sympathetic hug) that left me feeling quite at odds earlier today - wondering if I should just turn back and return to my other friends in Athens. But, being the intrepid solo traveler that I have been in the past, I must get over these bumps in the road and go on. There are new stories to write and new adventures ahead. And I'm sure I'll meet some interesting new folk along the way.
(note: you will see by following posts what a great time I had. And if she had come along it would have been a constant complaining because the beach at Gythion wasn't that great and she'd have insisted on staying at one out of the town which would have made it difficult for me as I like to explore.)