Somehow, our relaxed summer on the beach triggered health problems we’d never encountered while hiking. Alan’s knees swelled up, and were so painful he could hardly walk. I went with him to see a specialist, who took an X-ray and diagnosed osteo-arthritis. “Take the car, don’t walk anywhere,” he advised. “How many steps are there in your house?” Looking sharply at me, he added: “Women are even more prone to it….”
It sounded like the end of Alan’s walking days, time for us both to move into a bungalow and invest in zimmer frames.
We sank further into the silky hedonism of Kalamata, spending long evenings on the beach and at the little seaside tavernas. All around people bobbed up and down in the water, chatting, still wearing their sunhats and sunglasses. It’s one of the favourite places of the Greeks themselves, both to live and to holiday. We thought about what the doctor had said.
I was reluctant to give up too easily. Could I continue alone? I was determined, but wary of the dangers in walking alone in such remote territory. Could I find somebody else to accompany me? Friends were already tied up at short notice, and the only response I got on internet walking fora was a suggestion to try walking across the Alps. Or could Alan rent a car and follow me on dirt roads? Perhaps I could adapt the route to walk at lower levels, through less remote country.
However, Alan is stubborn where his health is concerned, and doesn’t let it get in the way of what he wants to do. The doctor’s painkillers and anti-inflammatories reduced the swelling, and in a couple of weeks he was walking normally again. He phoned his own doctor in the UK, who advised: “Go for it, but do try to walk round the mountains rather than go over the top! “ Bearing that in mind, in early September we headed off North again.