I have a serious problem. Apparently, nobody ever bothered to teach me the meaning of “day off”. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was back at the golf course on Tuesday, teaching my coworker, Thimios, how to play golf. I was totally blown away by his game—he’s already outdriving me!! (My bitterness about this has receded enough to where I can be proud of my new-found protege.)

I spent the rest of the afternoon at Sugar Café with my roommate and several new Greek friends. We drank freddo cappuccinos and discussed the California hip-hop scene. It was quite relaxing.

Eventually, Rima and I went back to our apartment to cook some dinner. We finished our typical pasta meal with a bowl of fresh fruit, topped with greek yogurt and honey. Probably my favorite sweet treat of this trip so far!

We really wanted to celebrate our first night off, though, so we headed out to join our housemates at a beach bonfire. Well, bonfire is probably not the right word. Firewood is rather hard to come by, so they were burning cardboard, beer cans, and sticks. There was a good group of our housemates outside, sitting on rocks and white plastic chairs that glowed under the light of the full moon. Somebody had an ipod playing music in the background; it was a funky mix of American and Euro pop tunes. Rima and I danced around the fire, singing along to Akon and Rihanna. I busted out some rap during an Eminem song. Apparently foreigners do not set the bar very high for rapping– they were incredibly impressed with my skills! We laughed the night away, then ran back to the apartment when our eyelids started to feel heavy. Some of the Romanian boys asked us to come to the beach with them the next day and we said “of course!”

I woke up early, hardly daring to sleep in on my first day off without a golf course in sight. Fixing a bowl of cereal and grabbing my Kindle, I headed outside to enjoy the morning air and my first chance to read in two weeks. I managed to get through about ten pages when my phone rang.

“Hello, Debby,” a familiar voice greeted me.

“Oh hi, Nicky,” I replied, wondering what our golf professional could want from me this morning.

“Your American friends are here again and they were looking for you. But today is your day off?” he asked, prompting me slightly.

I scrambled to think of which Americans he was referring to. “You mean the air force guys?!”

“Yes, they are here, but I told them you were off.”

“Oh no… Nicky, please tell them I’m sorry. I would really love to play with them again, though.”

I was seriously bummed when I hung up the phone. Here I was, relaxing and waiting to go to the beach. But these Americans, who hardly ever had a day off, really wanted to play golf with me! I picked up my book, but my heart was not into it any longer. It was all of ten minutes before I called Nicky back.

“I’m taking the bus, I’ll be there soon.”

I threw on my golf clothes and dashed out the door.

When I arrived at the course, Nicky pulled up in his golf cart and told me to hop on. He informed me that the guys had just teed off the second hole and were excited I was coming. I met them on the tee box and Nick (one of the three I’d met last week) welcomed me with a big smile and told me I was his partner for their two-man best-ball tournament. They had brought nine air force men out to play, so there was a whole crew of Americans hacking it up on the course!  Everybody was feeling great; the guys had picked up some “road wine” on the way here (road wine (n)- wine pressed by local farmers and sold for $2 a liter along the roadside; on occasion it tastes fairly passable, other times it smells vaguely of formaldehyde) and were passing it around. I tried it as “part of the experience” (and I guarantee it’s an experience I will never have again).

We were playing in a group of six and thus played unbelievably slow. We finished the front nine in about three hours, stopped for a long lunch, then made our way over to the bag nine. Nick and I were tied with Kris and Ryan for first place, so the heckling soon began.

“Wow Ryan, I didn’t know Air Force Ones were considered golf shoes,” Nick teased. [Note: In all fairness, the guys really did try to scrape together some legitimate golf attire.]

“Hey Kris,” Ryan said smugly, “what did we have on that last hole? Was it a par? No wait… I think it was a birdie.”

“The hole is THAT way, actually,” I said after someone hit it off the toe of their club. Oops… guess I got into the competitive mode myself!

It came down to the very last hole. Nick and I, being such kind, selfless people, let Kris and Ryan win the round. I think a rematch is in the near future, though. We celebrated at a lovely Italian restaurant just down the road, overlooking the sea. About a dozen pizzas were ordered and scarfed down in a matter of minutes. Our laughter rang out into the night air, causing a number of locals to roll their eyes at the crazy Americans. I enjoyed it so much, though. It was my first meal here where everybody shared the same language, the same culture. Occasionally back in the States, I’d complain that Americans didn’t have a culture of their own. But being away from home has made me realize just how much Americans do share. And a night gathered around pizza, bragging about golf shots, and quoting “drinking out of cups” was about the most authentic American evening I could have asked for.

Sounds like a day off to me!

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