Up on Mt. Zas to Down in Jungleland

June 21

Today I climbed a mountain. Mt. Zas is the highest point in the Cyclades, at 3300 ft high. From the summit, you can see all the islands of the Cyclades. I was indecisive all yesterday, and then finally decided at 7am to just bite the bullet and do it. After an early breakfast, around 10 of us rode the bus to the beginning of a 5km trail to the summit. The weather was extremely pleasant–warm but breezy, clear, high visibility, not humid. Basically perfect for our task.

The terrain wasn’t bad at first but gradually became steeper and rockier. I didn’t find it quite as hard as the Fortress of Palamidi’s 1000 stairs. After about 1h45m, we reached the summit. On the way, we saw some goats (“MEEEEEEHHH”) and also saw a hawk flying majestically around us. The top had a pillar with a small book in it, in which we wrote our names and the University down. We sat for a while, admiring the view and taking pictures, and had a small snack. Soon we began heading back down, which was more difficult than going up, because we kept slipping on the steep and uneven rocks. At one point I stumbled and stepped on a thornbush and my friend Alicia fell completely down at one point. Once we got back to the hotel, Barnes rewarded us all with traditional Greek sweets and then we headed to lunch at that gyro place with the guy that did party tricks.

After heading back from lunch, we all got in the hot tub and pool of the hotel for a while, then laid outside for a while, and then headed to town to check out the shops. Naxos has awesome shopping. Like, cute shops in Old Town with jewelry and clothes and scarves and such. The inside is like a labyrinth. It’s really cool.

At 8, we headed to a music festival in Halki that Barnes found last year. We ate some kick-ass food there–kontosouvli is the best meat I have ever tasted in my life. Slow roasted on a spit all day. It was so good. I will dream about that food. I swear.

Next, we went to listen to the music. The main act while we were there was a group of Greek rappers who rapped and sang over beats as well as just guitar. It was cool to be in the local element of a town. People were seeing all their friends, hugging, talking. Kids ran around and danced, adults drank and danced when they drank too much, and some 11-year-old girls knew every word to every song the group performed. They were yelling it at the top of their lungs, and at one point one of the performers gave them the mic and they became the rappers.

PAY ATTENTION RIGHT NOW, THOUGH. COOL SHIT IS ABOUT TO BE SAID. I REPEAT, COOL SHIT. BEING SAID. FUN FACTS.

One of the songs the rappers performed started off with the sax solo from the middle-end of JUNGLELAND BY BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. It sampled the solo for the entire song. I freaked the hell out. I ran and told people because what are the odds that at a small music festival in Halki, Naxos, Greece, a rap group will sample BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S SONG FOR THEIR BEAT?! WHAT ARE THE SHEER ODDS?!

Anyway. Sorry. I flipped out. That’s basically my fun fact. We didn’t learn much today. Other than that climbing mountains is something to which you should always say yes.

FEELZ:

I am so deliriously happy on this island. The weather has been superb, the food has been outstanding, the beaches and the town are all so beautiful. I see what Barnes has been talking about this whole time. Naxos is the gem of Greece. I am glad we get so much free time here. I am absolutely not ready to leave. Ever.

Please don’t make me leave.

I am already looking forward to getting together with everyone once we get back. It will be nice to have everyone together, all collectively eating tons of food just like we did here. I also need to rearrange my schedule to take Barnes’s myth class, because I’ve heard how awesome it is and maybe it’ll let me hold on to this trip a little longer.

Anna Barnes, now is the time to worry about me not being able to leave. I am going to cling to the port of Naxos and someone is going to have to drag me onto the boat.

Maybe a bit of hyperbole. But you catch my drift.

This trip has been so incredible. I am so thankful. So incredibly thankful.

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