Thursday, July 06, 2006

American Family Fits into Toyota Corolla

Defying all plantary odds, an American family of five actually fit into a Toyota Corolla--with luggage!

"Such a thing has never been done," said bystander Νικόλας Κουριστις of Αγος Νικωλαος.

Terry, the father, was dumbfounded. "We asked for a BIG car and this is what we got. I suppose it is bigger than the Micra we got last time," he said.

The family, flouting the laws of physics, managed to squeeze four American-sized bags plus a few carry-on backpacks into the tiny trunk. "It's our own Tardis," said the father, referring to an obscure British sci-fi show, Dr. Who.

The manager of the car-rental shop, Ιαννις Μποβίς, said the typical Cretan response, "no problem, no problem, see? You see!"

The children piled into the back. Teagan, age six, disliked her position in the middle. "I'm squooshed," she said, arms across her chest. The eldest, a pre-teen with a rather relaxed attitude for his twelve years, described the situation as "cool." "Hey, as long as I get to finish Artemis Fowl, I'm good." Erin, the nine-year-old middle child, said the best part about the drive was that they "play music from my music stick, not Devin's because he's reading, so I can sing." And sing she did, over and over.

The mother appeared oddly calm at first, but when asked her opinion of the situation, she said, "the roads around here are crazy. Most aren't wider than my driveway at home, but here they're for two-way traffic." Regarding the car, she said, "it's gutless, but it's a Toyota and I have some of their stock in my IRA, so I'm happy."

Kelly, the mother, had much to say. "I'm ready to fire my navigator. He's used to the states where all the large cities are sign posted. Here, driving is like a dot-to-dot from podunk town to podunk town. You really have to read the map, but he doesn't. I'm flying solo out here!" [Father (ed) -- I'm reading the map! It's tough to read Greek signs when you're passing them at the speed of light! You try finding yourself on a map when everything is blue-shifted!]

She was on a roll. Ten minutes later she was still ranting. "And driving this car I'm in second, then third, then second, third, back and forth. I got into fifth gear twice, maybe three times. But everything's in kilometers, so going 80 on these roads seems lightning fast. And in town you have to slam on the breaks and hug the curb so that on-coming traffic can squeeze by. I don't know how the bus drivers cope!"

Two hours later, she was still gabbing. "I thought British roads were small! And the Greeks don't know what a bypass is. All of the so-called 'main roads' go through villages. You drop down to second or first gear to prepare for the turns, and you'll likely find the switchback bends around the corner of someone's house." blah blah.

After another hour of gabbing, she switched topics. "And then you see goats all over the place. They're under the trees, in the trees even. And twice I've gone around a corner only to find a donkey standing there."

On pedestrians: "People here don't look. They just walk in the street because there are either no sidewalks or there are cars parked on them. Walking here must be an act of faith for them."

On the ubiquitous moped: "They don't obey any of the traffic laws. One way street? Not for the moped. Stop sign? Not for the moped. Speed limit or helmet law? Not for the moped. I'm amazed. I keep expecting a gruesome accident around the next bend."

On navigation: "We're going to Irene's and she lives on a street with no name. Our directions were to drive into town and ask someone for her--not a tourist, she said. After another pleading call, she told me to 'take the national road straight, no turns, then when you get into Kastelli, stop at my cousin's gas station. It's the first one on the right, I mean the left. On the left. I think it's a Texaco, or maybe a Shell station. It's the first one. Ask Nik for directions.' So we managed to find the station, and the directions were to go past the bus station and then turn left. Well I got lost because a bus station, in my mind, is BIG and has BUSSES, but this one is smaller than a corner shop, and I didn't know the Greek word for Bus Station, so we drove right past it. Luckily enough, I pulled over and asked this woman, in broken Greek, 'pu ine Irene;' where is Irene, and she pointed to herself and smiled."

Unfortunately, there are no photos of the packed trunk, but the mother provided several photos of the roads at her website.

[This reporter listened to her for nearly four hours and deserves hazard pay for this assignment.]


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