1.5 hour Descent to Elassona
Beautiful family homes spot the hills of central Thessaly. We “climb” the foothills of Mt. Olympus using a mountain pass descending to Elassona My Pocket Wifi signal is spotty. Apropos. I haven’t watched TV save for a liturgy service the first night I arrived, and the breaks from technology are good. One bar on the cell phone and two on the SkyRoam hot spot. I’ve avoided Internet cafes (since I’ve brought mine along...)
Vasili does not fit the typical mold of Greek drivers: hard, fast, daring and scary. No fluttery stomachs on this bus. Malia, a Domincan nun from Hawaii passes out “Host Maui Caramacs” (correct spelling) and chocolate Macadamia treats. We move southwest pass grazing sheep on south facing hills. This is rich farmland: tobacco, corn, peach and olive groves, cotton fields, pear trees tied to tires to help them ripen, and solar plates growing sunshine. Greeks sell their electricity back to the grid (solar farmers). The but biggest products of the are from sheep farm cooperatives are milk, yoghurt, butter and varieties of cheese. Maybe your favorite feta comes from the Elassona/Thessaly.
Farmers have been bailing hay, there are walnut trees, and more tobacco. The economic crisis does has not diminished the Greek proclivity for smoking. There are larger farms on the flattening plains. Corn is not knee-high yet, nor is it the 4th of July. Roadside restaurants have signs in Greek and English so this must be a popular route for Mt. Olympus climbers. They probably don’t go to Elassona. We have no previous information about the Elassona Monastery. Vasili has never been here. We are pilgrim pioneers posting “intel” as we learn about this community just 8 kilometers away. and I begin to lose wifi access.. Zeus does not want me to capture a sky signal. No bars! But ubiquitous beer bars and cafes abound.