Bag of Winds

This blog entry about the events of Sunday, September 12, 2004 was originally posted on September 14, 2006.

DAY 19: To paraphrase the copy of Cliffs Notes for The Odyssey I packed along in my carry-on (deemed safe by Homeland Security, but not by your sixth grade English teacher), Odysseus was right on course to go home to Ithaca with the help of the Aeolus.  Aeolus, King of the Winds (a.k.a. Joe Blow) had used his powers to take all the adverse winds and stick them in a Ziploc® freezer bag.  The bag was then sealed shut (“Yellow and blue make green!”) so that none of the bad winds would escape and send Odysseus off course.  However, when Odysseus & Co. were right within sights of home, a couple of crewmembers with the munchies thought that there was some sort of hidden treasure in the bag — or maybe just some leftovers — and opened it.  Their boat was sent way off course, leaving Odysseus to think that maybe he should have labeled his bags accordingly:


I HAD BEEN in sights of a fishing trip in Naxos, but that too was blown off course; high winds from the north made the sea choppy, keeping the smaller fishing boats in the marinas.  I figured I couldn’t wait it out any longer and just embraced the winds for my last day of recreation in Greece in the best way that I could:  windsurfing (picture above).

There are a couple of windsurfing outfitters on Naxos’ west coast, one of them a German operation called Flisvos that had a one o’clock trial session.  Rushing there on my motorbike from Town X — “Punch the keys for God’s sake!” — I made it just in time to suit up in a worn-out grey and red shorty wetsuit for the lesson to begin.  I felt like I was in kiteboarding lessons again.

There were only six of us in class led by our instructor, an olive-skinned, Greek-looking Belgian guy named Miguel who was all business, never cracking a smile or making a joke.  He brought us over to this simulator on the backside of the surf shop, where we learned how to mount a board, extend its mast, and get into stance — all without getting into the water just yet.

“Windsurfing is very technical.  If you get it one or two times, you will be happy, we will be happy,” he told us.

We took to the water, near the catamarans they used for catamaran lessons, and we tried our newly-learned techniques using the winds to the back of us.  One thing that I did learn was that windsurfing was tough.


That wasn’t the only wipeout and it wasn’t just me.  But eventually, people starting getting the hang of it, more than I did.  Miguel observed each of us and then gathered us around to give each of us pointers.  It went something like this:

“You (points to first guy), you are doing good, just lean back more…  You (points to second guy), that’s good, just keep your feet behind the mast in a Bruce Lee stance…  You (points to me), you have to stand on the board first before you get the mast.”


That wasn’t my only problem; it turned out my sail wasn’t tied properly on one end, so I was sent back to the surfshop to get myself another one.  I didn’t know whether or not to be embarrassed for getting something labeled, “Kiddie 2.5” but eventually I got the hang of it, at least for a couple of seconds before wiping out again.  Just when I thought I was getting good, the trial was over.

Luckily a two-hour “beginner’s session” would start in half an hour, and each of us signed up for the additional 40 euros.  (That’s how they get ya.)  Miguel was our teacher again, and this time around I was upgraded to a bigger board and a bigger sail, supposedly for more balance in the choppy surf.  The lesson started out with a review of equipment and how to set it up, and then a lesson of some funny terms in windsurfing lingo:  “loofing” and “bearing away.”  Back in the water, we tried to loof and bear away, but mostly we wiped out a lot.

“Here, I will show you,” Miguel would say every ten minutes before getting on a board and showing off.

“Oh, he makes it look so easy,” I said.

Over the next two hours, we learned a technique, practiced it, and then went back to Miguel for more.  There were still a lot of wipeouts, and I even crashed into a German woman’s board, but I guess that was expected.  A lot of times the strong winds would blow me way out of the practice zone, and I’d have to wade my sail and board back to Miguel.  “Stay close to here, so I can help you,” he said, as if to assume I actually knew how to steer direction in the strong winds.  Seriously, that unlabeled mythical Ziploc® freezer bag of adverse winds was out of control.

By the end of the course, I really got the hang of it, even turning 180° and switching direction albeit very clumsily.  “[The winds are strong.]  This is really the upper border for beginners,” Miguel told us.

With that said, I felt good about my first windsurfing experience and called it a day.  I lazily spent the rest of the afternoon finally chilling out on the beach with a book — some people go to the Greek Islands and only do the beaches, and I’d figured I might as well get around to it.  Soon I realized I was at the nude beach and wondered, What is it about nudist colonies that attract the least attractive naked people?  It was a real Beaversville.

BACK IN NAXOS TOWN, I returned my motorbike and got my big bag from storage, ready to find a room for my last real night in Greece before heading off a long 24-hr. way to Munich via Athens and Rome.  I went to the tourist information office to ask for a cheap, convenient place near the port and in the end, the most convenient place for me to crash the night was in a pension in a quaint alleyway managed surprisingly by a Filipino woman.

“You look Filipino,” she told me.

“Yeah…  [My parents are from] Malabon and Bulacan,” I told her.  “How long have you lived here?”

“Oh, long years.  There are many Filipinos here.”

She showed me my room with a view and how to turn the hot water in the shared bathroom.  “Salamat po,” (“Thank you,”) I said in Tagalog, thinking how funny it was to say it in Greece of all places.  But I guess it wasn’t a total shock; Filipinos are everywhere in tourist hubs, a lot of of them in the service industry.  (In Rio de Janeiro, on the top of the Sugar Loaf, a Filipino woman there thought my brother and I worked on one of the cruise ships.)  More than that, Greece isn’t all Greeks; there were many immigrants that I’d seen, mostly in Athens though, showing that there was some sort of multi-culturalism in the country.  Kostas of the Hotel Kouros told me there were even many African businessmen making successful livings in Athens.

In Naxos there wasn’t so much diversity that I’d seen — except for my Belgian instructor at the German windsurf school — but there still was evidence of other countries in terms of cuisine:  an “Asian” restaurant and the faux Mexican place that served me tacos — a one-time break from all the Greek and seafood I’d been eating.  (If you’ve noticed, I’ve really tried to vary my meals to try a lot of different dishes of Greek cuisine, a lot of them involving seafood.  That night I still had a baked mackerel back at Dolphins.)

After watching the sun go down by the marina, my last real night in Greece was a quiet one; I was exhausted from windsurfing, and going out in Naxos Town wouldn’t have outdone the great time I had the night before in Town X anyway.  I just quietly blogged the night away so as not to fall behind.

The next morning, it wasn’t so quiet when a gust of wind swooped into my room and slammed the window shut with such a force that a pane of glass shattered into pieces.  I don’t know if Aeolus (a.k.a. Joe Blow) was mad at me, or if the unlabeled mythical Ziploc® freezer bag of adverse winds wasn’t exactly 100% airtight — all I do know is that if Odysseus is going to share a boat with a bunch of guys, he should really start labeling his stuff.

Next entry: The End of the Myth

Previous entry: The Legend of Vasillis

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “Bag of Winds”

  • Just love being first!

    Posted by Anonymous  on  09/14  at  09:31 PM

  • what’s easier surfing (Australia), wind surfing (Greece), or kite
    boarding (Philippines)?

    Posted by markyt  on  09/15  at  05:45 PM

  • That’s a good question that markyt posed - any thoughts? I think I’m
    late on this entry and you’re drunk, so perhaps we’ll never know.

    Posted by tallgirl

  • Actually, from a beginner’s point of view, windsurfing.

    Posted by Erik TGT

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This blog post is one of twenty-five travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Tomatoes, Grease & Beer" (originally hosted by, which chronicled a trip to Spain's wild Tomatina festival, Greece's awe-inspiring islands, and Munich's world-renowned Oktoberfest in August/September 2006.

Next entry:
The End of the Myth

Previous entry:
The Legend of Vasillis


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