I wake up soaked in sweat, a slight discomfort more than offset by the fact that I was perspiring because I'd slept in my sleeping bag and tent on a tropical beach. Main event of the day was seeing an active volcano, an event that would usually be ridiculously awe-inspiring but is downgraded to a lower-grade wow because my level of shock is already pretty high at ambience. This is the last sentence in which I'll harp on how much I love it here: if you were to imagine the ideal tropical island, it'd be similar to Santorini but you'd leave out quirks like the volcano that make here wonderful.
About the volcano: you could actually see smoke coming out of the ground! The tour guide, who gained coolness through an existential explanation of the island ("This is a volcano. There's not much else to say.") and letting me dive off the boat to the "hot" springs that were only mildly less cold than the sea at large, wouldn't let me hike into the crater but assured me it was significantly hotter down there. Even digging an inch at the top led to warm dirt. A worthwhile excursion in paradise.
After hiking a steep trail composed of equal parts donkey shit and steps to the car, we changed the color of our beach: it's red sand today. I make an ass of myself in front of friendly Canadians by trying to climb a cliff via a grip that collapses into red sand on my head and talking all into a journey to a "cave" that turns out to be solely a slight indent in the cliff wall, but refer to first paragraph for an idea of how little any of this matters. We've even lost all interest in calling Austria to find out how much damage we did to the rental car!
With the third tropical beach of the day came something that, if it wasn't, should have been one of my life goals. I swam out to, climbed partway up, and jumped from a seaside cliff into water so clear that I saw the bottom from 15 feet up. I had to do this twice, so we're a little late returning the rental car and just in time for the boat but the island's loveliness prevents anyone from caring.
As the ship pulls away, I'm nostalgic already. We've talked about doing the exact same trip 50 years from now but staying in the luxury suite of the hotel that wouldn't let us use the internet, intentionally putting the wrong type of gas in a rental car, flying in first class, and eating only meals that cost more than 20 euros. I doubt it'll happen and probably will never return to Santorini. The expensive version of the trip probably won't occur because of my aversion to standard, 9-to-5, make-enough-money-to-accumulate-wealth work, and there are too many beautiful places to explore for me to return to one tiny island. I'd be like those people who go to New York City once a year and always eat in the same restaurant. Then again, Cafe Spice is pretty damn tasty...
We arrive at Ios to find a van to take travelers to Far Out Camping ready and waiting. Although sparsely populated now as it's the off season, this is definitely a college student's spring break wet dream of a campground. There's almost every watersport you can imagine, from kayaking to waterskiing, available on the beach that's all of 20 feet from the pool. Actually, it's more like a pool and a half: the waterslides have a separate area! Best of all is the beer pricing: big Amstels cost less than small ones! With conscientious objections to this implicit encouragement to consume large amounts of alcohol, we happily agree to 4 euros ($5) each to camp in our tent for the night at this wacky version of a campsite.
It's cotraveler Tom's 21st birthday, so the evening's consumed by what can only be described as extremely drunken debauchery. Lowlight was finding out that bars, desperate for ways to compete with each other, actually pay attractive people to stand outside promoting and even to talk patrons up once inside. This paled to the highlights of the usual fact (I'm in paradise), getting a drink called a "slammer" that entails chugging Tequila and Sprite while wearing a helmet and then getting hit in the head with a mallet, and Tom playing superman: during our so-drunk-we-can't-walk-in-anything-resembling-a-straight-line trek to the campsite after the drunken night in town, Tom let out a superpowered yell, jumped off a fence, and landed on his head, emitting a mere mortal's "oof." I'd write more about getting back to the camp, but the Budweiser dog's Greek cousin came and mistook my memories for a gyro:)