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J138 - Wednesday, March 3: Exit from Lamia – Mataranga

75.18km – 10H36’
Altitude: 121m

It was a quiet day made of hills and flat, which started with a delightful little climb to reach 760m of altitude at km10, then a descent and another ascent to km 28 at the village of Domakos, then another descent on a vast, cultivated plain.  From then on there are road works to make the E65 a double two lane highway.  Since our arrival in Greece we  have seen a great deal of construction on roads and bridges.
After Sofades, we take secondary roads and Serge’s fear returns: dogs.  Our runner is equipped: next to his beacon he has an ultrasound device and a tear gas bomb in case of dire necessity.  So he has his arsenal against aggressive dogs.  Serge likes animals, particularly dogs, except when they run after his calves with bared fangs.
Since our arrival in Greece two weeks ago, we have seen tags representing two numbers, 13 and 7.  Not a day has gone by but what we don’t see these numbers and at the beginning we thought they were good luck numbers.  But it seems that they are the gate numbers of the grandstand for the supporters of the two Athenian soccer teams: AEK and Panathanaikos.  It’s quite clear that there are soccer fans throughout the country and they like to mark any flat surface, even road signs.
The Greek school calendar is different from ours.  The school year runs from October to May, so the summer vacation in the hottest months is very long.  Between October and May there are only two vacation periods, a short break for Christmas and a longer break for Easter, in April.  The Greek Orthodox Easter is a more important feast than Christmas, which is celebrated little or not at all.  Schools start rather early in the morning and finish early, at the beginning of the afternoon.
Working hours are different from those in France, especially for civil servants.  For example, post offices open at 7:00 AM and close at 2:00 PM.  One day I was able to connect to the Internet in the office of a village health center and at 2:30 PM the place closed.  This schedule allows time for the siesta, which seems to be sacred in Athens, as Jean-Pascal and Christophe explained to us.  Then life starts slowly around 7:00 PM, and in the summer as it is still hot at that hour  dinner is also late, between 9:00 and 11:00 PM.  Even if the heat doesn’t last all year long, this rhythm is kept.  People who work in production have hours more like ours.
We are still surrounded by cotton growing; it’s a shame we are not in the cotton harvest season but you can still see some cotton plants in today’s pictures.
I am finishing this text after our meal, during which we “philosophized”.  Serge tells us about the freedom he feels on a daily basis.  He maintains “there are constraints in every human being’s life” (restriction does not really seem reconcilable with the notion of freedom), then he adds: “Liberty is being able to choose our own constraints”. On these thoughts, good night everyone.

Town : Mataranga (Thessalie)

GPS : N 39.40872° E 022.07403°