A trek through Greece by Natasha Epstein


One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. I was walking across the rough terrain of the mountains of Greece. The village was very simple, with only a few one-story stone houses, but that’s normal for a hill as tall as this; there isn’t much space to build on up here. A few animal pens made of sticks are laid out next to the houses. The pens looks like a children’s game of lincoln logs; the corners are crossed to help keep the sticks upright and the sheep, goats, and pigs in. I kick a small pebble with my foot on the rocky trail. Sweat drips down my neck. The air is dry and smells like olives and pig dung, and the sun is beating down on my back like someone lit a campfire on the back of my shirt. To my left I see an old man tending his goats. On my right is a shepherd leading his young lambs. The lambs cries echo in my ears like a baby crying for milk. As I reach the edge of the plateau, my eyes look up and out over the gorgeous view. I can see my aunt’s house as a tiny speck in the distance. The valley is a sea of green with little brown and tan flecks of houses scattered across it like fish swimming in the ocean. My foot slips and I feel myself sliding down the hill on the loose rocks and dirt. I feel like I’m moving so fast that my rear end will catch fire from the friction. At the bottom, I cough and wave my hands to clear some of the dust rising like smoke and I realize I’m in an olive orchard. I sit in the shade of some of the olive trees and unpack my snack of barley bread and grapes. I saved some because I don’t know long it take to reach my aunt’s house and I don’t know if I’ll be able to pick up more food on the way. Eventually the sun slips over the trees and fades, and bright pinpoints of light begin to appear across the now-dark sky. I put my head down on a large root of an olive tree and let my eyelids close. I wake up to a bird chirping in my ear and pecking at my sack of food. I shoo it away and stand up. The sun shines brightly and I see a small cottage. I wonder if I could trade a few grapes for more barley bread. I run to it, and the door is answered by an old woman. She smiles, and accepts a few of the grapes, then gives me an entire loaf of barley bread and a bottle of olive oil to trade at the market. As I continue, I start to see a market ahead. It is perched at the top of a large mountain. I climb carefully up, not wanting to sled on soil again. I see a dip in the road, and smile to myself as I step around it, and kick a bit of dirt and pebbles into it. I stop quickly at the market, taking just enough time to give a man the olive oil for two large bunches of grapes. I see my aunt’s house end of the road at the bottom of the mountain. But, I am tired. I start slowly down the mountain. Each foot feels as heavy as a bag of bricks. I sigh and finally reach the bottom of the mountain. I look up and see my aunt’s house at the end of the road. With a renewed energy, I run towards it. Then, I feel my feet come out from under me again as a few pebbles are momentarily trapped underneath. I slide for a moment with my eyes squeezed shut. When I open them, dust is still around me but my aunt’s smiling face is leaning out the door of the house.

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