It all started when I saw a diesel 2500 cummins pull up to the gas station and I decided I had to talk to the driver. This choice would change my view on life and touch my heart all at once. It was weird seeing such a large truck in Greece much less on an island. The man was about 5’9″ had snow white hair and was not really out of shape for his age. As I talked to man I found out he had a farm which explains the diesel truck. I asked him if he knew of a place to go horseback riding. However the only one on the island was one of those rides for kids where the horses reigns are tied to the horse in front of you. When he asked about my accent I told him I was American. His face lit up like a Christmas tree and he immediately said “New York Giants?” Looking at me for an answer, him repeatedly saying “I love the New Giants” in a thick Greek accent. I finally explained to him I was from California and grew up in Florida . He was so excited to meet an American. Then told him I wanted to ride across the entire island and he offered to take me across on his own horses!
I was over joyed to save some gas as I parked my dirt bike at the farm. Switching to this new mode of transportation seemed like the most inefficient choice as I lost some “horsepower” haha. I can never resist a good pun! I don’t think my new ride has any torque either. Also the suspension seems quite rough to me. Theres just something about riding though an island to the beach that makes it worth the journey. As we rode he kindly was able to get some photos but mostly just wanted to ride. I accepted this and just enjoyed the ride however he did humor me.
As we rode through Zakynthos island I noticed his horse had this in its hair. The horses were well taken care of and recently brushed. I was surprised because he uses two of them to pull a cart in his farm. Also he most take good care of them as he had no idea I would be visiting his farm.
As we rode I could only imagine having a whole island to ride with no limits unlike other places which are restrict where you can ride. As we continued to ride my observations took a toll on me… I didn’t ask him but I can only assume from his pictures that his wife is gone. When I inquired if he lived alone on the farm he said yes. Yet his pictures and gold ring on his right hand said otherwise and as I pushed I could see his sadness in his eyes. This made me quite sad as I rode with him. He asked for no money and had no plans for the day. As excited as I was to ride it effected me deeply. Being on an island with three horses and no one to ride with anymore. I wondered if the horse I was riding named Sarah was named after his wifes being a young horse unlike the other two. The first two were over 15 years old and had small signs of aging. As I pet the first two I noticed gray hair around the eyes and muzzle. Also the hair and skin was coarser however my horse was quite healthy and young.
As we crossed over the irrigation ditch and off the farm. I was able to get him to take a picture and then we would ride to the beach. I could see the joy in the old mans eyes as we left the farm. He mentioned he hadn’t taken a ride along the beach in months. Talking to the horse as if it was a person, some might see him as crazy. However I just a man who loves his horse as I have seen many talk to their dogs and cat the same way.
About three hours and one break along the way we had made it to the beach. I was already doing the horse walk when we took a break. We still had a long ride ahead of us to get back. The old man however showed no signs of fatigue. He had a bottle of water and some cookies but nothing else. We continued along the beach and it was stunning.
There was not a single soul on the beach. Just pure sand water with turtle egg nests. The Greek government does protect the sea turtle nest. I am happy to report that there were many protected nests along the beach. However the beach was far and untouched by the many facilities and roads that plague some of the beach from the clubs to the restaurants. It takes a couple of hours to ride this far so I can’t imagine anyone to walk out this far down the beach.
As we headed back we took one final break half way between the farm. The sun was setting and the trip coming to an end. As I look out across the island I stared in amazement at the island and just took the day in. Once back at the farm I checked that the dirt bike was still there along with my helmet. After seeing it was there I tried to pay the man but he didn’t want my euros. He said my time and my enjoyment of the horse was enough. I insisted he at least let me send him a photo of his horse. He politely accepted and I accepted his stubbornness not to take the euros. I noticed he might have been getting offended I kept offering monetary offers for our ride so I stopped. I said goodbye like I would to a long lost friend and was sincere as I said I would never forget this day. I got on my dirt bike and headed back out wondering what the hell could be more stunning then this ride. As I rode on my dirt bike I realized I had somewhat of an idea of where I was going and enjoyed the ride. I made it back to the hotel and there I was looking at people who had no idea what I had just felt and seen. As I looked at the people by the people I realized they probably go to the bars and clubs every night. I sort of smiled thinking how funny it is that people can complain they never do anything. They seem to do the same thing everywhere they go. If they are in France they hit the club, beach and bar if they are in Japan they do the same. It feels so unique to see this world like no one else sees it. I feel this was when people are on there phones at scenic views, walking in the city, or at a family birthday party. Does anyone else feel this way or notice this realization or view? This could be the matrix and I could be Neo or Mr. Andersen and everyone could be asleep…