Like other people we’ve met in Leonidio, I find the owners are friendly, helpful, and kind. One of the owners is petite and beautiful, but has a toughness about her from years of hard climbing, living alone, and even overcoming cancer a few years ago. She’s become somewhat of an auntie figure for many of the climbers here. I tell her about some of my climbing goals and how far-fetched it’s starting to feel. “You can do it!” she encourages me in her Romanian accent.
The next few days are a blur. During the day I head for the mountains, hiking for miles to get to the walls in hopes of getting even a little bit farther on the route. While the climbing is hard for me, I enjoy meeting new people from around the globe. They all came to this city to climb rocks and to bond over a shared passion. Shivers run down my spine as I hear strangers who have become new friends cheering each other on in the languages of their homeland. In the evenings I head into town to meet up with the new friends I’ve made. We relish in the local cuisine in family-owned restaurants and explore the shops around the city.
I’ve lost count of how many days it’s been, as I drag my feet up to the same climbing wall I’ve tackled over and over again. Ben, Dag, and our new friend Bella follow me up the familiar approach. I’m really hoping today is the day. I’ve rehearsed all the moves on the climb, received tips from plenty of locals who have climbed it already, and stored all the energy I need in my body by eating my weight in Greek salad and Slovaki each night.