Tinos Island, June 22-24

We've wrapped up Greek Island number one. We stayed in a nice small apartment and spent most of our time hiking and then cooling down in the Aegean. Tinos is visited primarily by Greeks and is relatively uncrowded. We picked Tinos for the hiking, but most visitors come for the most important religious icon in Greece, housed in a church on a hill. True pilgrims crawl on their hands and knees from the ferry dock up the quarter-mile stone pathway to the church. We, on the other hand, walked from the ferry to the bus station in an attempt at frugality, but soon learned that buses run four times a day and taxi is the normal way to get around Tinos. We knew we'd really settled into the island when we jumped in a taxi and the familiar driver said "I'm glad the girl isn't so sad today." (Emily's health is nearly normal but she has some new issues, detailed below.)

Our two hikes were "interesting" (the kid's assessment) and a bit of an adventure. There's nothing resembling normal hiking trails, but there are tons of pathways of widely varying quality and mysterious or nonexistent destinations. We have a  Cyclades hiking guide translated from German that describes suggested walks in great detail, including numerous photos to show the crucial turns. Nevertheless, as pointed out in some reviews of the guide, eventually one is sure to lose one's way and we were no exception. On the first hike we ended up seeking guidance from some farmers who talked to us in broken French, and later from a wildly gesticulating donkey-man (riding away in photo 3). We did finally make our way to the beach village we were shooting for. On the second hike we were more cautious -- we again deviated from the guide but didn't get as badly lost. On both hikes we had great views and walked through some charming villages. We also saw many dovecotes (photo 4), picturesque ancient pigeon houses of Tinos, numbering in the thousands.

In other news, Emily has started a blog. It's designed primarily for her friends, and certainly offers a different perspective on the trip. (Emily invites anyone to comment on it without creating a Yahoo!360 account by signing in with Yahoo ID "emilyyearoff" and password "california".) Emily's other internet achievement was a long video iChat with her good friend Julia back home. The four laptops have already seen heavy use of all types, and connectivity is invaluable for onward travel planning. At our Tinos hotel, wireless internet was available on a lovely patio overlooking the sea, and we spent plenty of time there when we weren't hiking or at the beach.

In the previous travelog we mentioned the importance of establishing good routines given the length of the trip. The same consideration applies to interpersonal relations, and two issues have arisen already. First, Emily started complaining about not having enough control over what was happening. ("Sometimes I feel like a puppet!") That specific complaint isn't one we've heard much before, but Alex had an insight: Emily has always maintained a strong separation between home life and time at school and with friends.The independence she enjoys outside of home isn't readily available while traveling. We're working on it -- Emily and Tim will be in charge of at least one full day's activities on the next island.

With Tim, we've struggled to work out the kinks in the parent-as-teacher child-as-student relationship. Both kids have gotten started with their online math program, HeyMath. When Tim got frustrated, tensions rose as Alex tried to help. Luckily, things smoothed out instantly when we discovered that Tim was working on the wrong material. Nevertheless, schooling will undoubtedly offer some interesting challenges.

Our biggest challenge of all has been sticking to another of our trip policies: only one ice cream per day. Given the soaring temperatures and general lack of shade on the island, that one's been tough, and we won't claim success.

Next stop: Naxos Island

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