Countdown …!

In the morning of 11th July 2015,
I put on my back the new photographic bag with the relative accessories,
got on my motorcycle (a Yamaha XT66OR)
and boarded the ship with the destination of the beautiful island of “Colossus of Rhodes“!

Two friends would come to the port to welcome “my majesty” 😛 the one being a very dear friend and colleague of mine at the Fire Brigade, Elias T.! At his place another Elias would also be expecting us, a web friend to that day whom I would finally meet up close and who was also my colleague Elias T.’s best man.

After six years on the island of Kos where I live, I was visiting the largest island of the Dodecanese at last … It was meant to be a summer escape from work for four days together with smiley friends, swimming in the sea and taking both summer and galactic photos! A short trip that started in a completely different way from the one it decisively ended up …

I can’t say I had got much sleep the previous day, as I was worried not to miss the morning ship. I didn’t get any rest at all on route to Rhodes, neither did I on that fateful, both beautiful and ugly day! So there I was, savoring the morning sun on the deck of the ship and taking some shoots with the camera … The music from my headphones and my thoughts accompanied me during this approximately three-hour route.

On reaching the port of the old town of Rhodes I met my friend and colleague Elias T. and headed to his house on our  bikes. There, finally, I got to meet Elias N., the adorable, former web friend as I mentioned earlier, who had also come from distant Larissa, where he normally lives, for a few days’ rest. He is a figure with a big heart and great humor, a truly adorable guy, rarely to be found …! 🙂 After we had all sat for a while at Elias T.’s place and had a little chat, we got ready for the first (of the total four)  day of the trip, which we had agreed to to start by going to the other end of the island, to the marvelous area called “Prasonisi“. More specifically, we would reach the lighthouse which is located there, spend the whole night taking photos of not only the galaxy but of the sunrise of the following day, too (a sunrise that  was eventually never photographed!). We had also taken sleeping bags with us in case we wanted to lie down somewhere out there for a while … It was summer anyway!

So we set off on our motorbikes, going for a short ride to the centre of the splendid knightly old town, had breakfast and continued our way to the villages.

Around noon we had got halfway of the island, to Lindos. There we stopped for a swim in the sea, which was ideal at that time with the sun blazing down on our heads and the heat reaching its peak. A little later we went for lunch, for a short stroll in the alleys of the village and for ice-cream of course … A beautiful place worth visiting!

After our lunch stop in Lindos, we progressed to the southwest tip of Rhodes and after quite some time we arrived in front of Prasonisi, at the long and wonderful beach of the area “Maheria”. A perfect place for surfing and more!

We stopped for a while and wondered about what we should finally do. It crossed our minds to pass through over the beach to get to Prasonisi on our bikes, since, although  a few people were still at the beach, the sand was also wet enough  for a simple vehicle to go over it. Surely a 4×4 or a motocross would definitely pass more easily! But we wanted to get across and reach the far end of the island, where the lighthouse was. However, the only solution finally was to go on foot as we would be taking quite a risk on the specific bikes, carrying our stuff with us on a 3+ kilometers route …! Was all this really worth it?!

We finally reached the decision to go (just before the sun set) and after about one hour’s hiking, we arrived at the lighthouse sweaty and tired! We didn’t rest much as we began shooting the sunset  in that beautiful place with the Aegean Sea in the background!

A few photos with the mobile phone …

As the light and the colors of the sunset were getting dimmer, it started blowing, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot. But this didn’t prevent us from shooting -even in complete darkness- the galaxy which had appeared above the lighthouse.

We stayed there until around midnight when we started feeling cold and we had to decide whether we would stay there in the abandoned building of the lighthouse, where there were beds with damaged mattresses, though, or we would go back to the place we had left the bikes, finding shelter from the wind to get to lie down until dawn, when we would shoot the place at sunrise!

We eventually left the lighthouse, hiking for another hour in the night! At some point we got to the area Maheria where we had left our bikes and searched for a spot protected from the wind for us to get some sleep. We couldn’t find anything! The whole place was windswept! It was then that I started feeling that I was falling in the arms of Morpheus slowly … Anyway, we reluctantly took the fateful decision to go back home and leave the morning shoot! We put on our helmets and started slowly and steadily our way back, me alone on my bike closely following the guys who were together on the other bike. Sometime halfway I felt my eyes shutting … I approached the kids and told them to stop at the first open kiosk or shop that we would find so as to drink something to keep my eyes open. A little later we found a big canteen and so we sat to get something. In order not to drink just coffee and the coke that we had ordered to wake us up because I don’t drink coffee at all, we had a good sandwich … WRONG! Because food induces sleep! Something which crossed my mind as we were eating!

After a few minutes we got up and continued the trip. A few kilometers later and at around 04:00 am, I saw Death before my own eyes … I fell asleep on the bike, yes, on the bike and was nightmarishly drawn to the traffic island. I flew off the bike, bearing in mind the thought that … “I am dying …”, I did some somersaults over the partition wall of the road and collapsed in the opposite lane, where, luckily for me, there were no cars passing at that time! I was  lying on my back on the road with the tripod and the camera kit at my back (fortunately they were not damaged at all, literally), with the helmet on my head which was both a good and a bad thing: good because I didn’t hurt my head thanks to it, bad because the wind didn’t blow enough at my face to keep me awake. A pleasure trip came to an end painfully at that moment! Some passers by who got first to the spot where I was, called an ambulance and after about 25 minutes I was taken to hospital. My friends realized what was going on a few minutes later because they stopped at a traffic light to look back to see me coming, but I was lying flat, wrecked, a long way back!

When they turned and saw what had happened, they didn’t believe it, as neither did I. I didn’t want in any way to believe that I had got hurt so badly! I tried to move my left leg but it  hurt too much, so I  got it that I had probably broken it, but I didn’t know how seriously. I didn’t know if I had hurt my head and the truth was that I was too scared to take off the helmet! I had never experienced such great pain before. And yet, at some point I told the guys to take a photo of me just the way I was, on the road (wonderful picture)! 😀 Thank God there wasn’t anyone else on the bike, thank God I had not died … It was the eve of St. Paisius and it seems he was my guardian angel! My friends informed my folks at my paternal home not to worry, that I was injured but not very seriously, and with the passers by who had stopped there, they gave me courage until the ambulance came!

So I went to hospital and after a few hours I got in the operating room to have my leg fixed. The operation lasted seven hours because the fractures were actually serious! It was necessary to have two big iron bars placed internally and also several screws in the femur and the tibia where there were fractures, and 74 “staplers” for the incisions to close and heal. The wounds on the surface of the leg and the scratches were also nasty! I was almost not hurt at all in the rest of my body. THAT WAS A NARROW ESCAPE, sort of.

These are the results of sleeping on the bike!

The first night the kids kept me the best company! They more than helped with whatever I needed, they stayed awake on chairs for me … They stood by me  in all this that I went through from the beginning to the end and they made me laugh and smile, something which is a remedy for me.I will never forget all this, and I will always feel grateful to them!!!

On the second day my sister who is a nurse and my brother rushed from Lamia, who were also a great help. They stayed for three days and they handed me over to my beloved parents! And what can I say about what they offered me all those days I spent in hospital … Friends, parents, relatives, colleagues and medical staff …! Painful but also dear moments!



My hospitalization there lasted 15 days and then I spent another 5 months approximately on recovery and “reconstruction”! I set off to Rhodes for four days but I finally stayed15, unfortunately!




After more than a year and a half now that I’m writing about this unlucky story, I’m quite better, although there’s another surgery due to get the bars and the screws taken off my leg … I  climbed Mount Tymphi, the Dolomites of the Alps and even more adventures await me and life stories to tell! I’m definitely not exactly in the exact physical condition I was before the accident, but I’ll try to get back to it and I will not stop traveling with more caution now! I wish to thank from the bottom of my heart the characters  of this story for what we went through together, an unfortunate and painful experience which, with their kind heart and their wonderful smiles , they turned into beautiful unforgettable memories … Unforgettable for me in body and mind !!! 😉

 

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