No luck this time: we will have to return to the rent-a-scooter for the third time. This one is unreliable too. Sometimes it just won’t start. And Samos is a long island, with only one gas station in the middle.
Sure enough, once we are left without enough fuel to return to our hotel in the bay. A friendly innkeeper sends her boy to fetch some for us, no charge.
We are careful not to stop again lest the scooter refuses to start, not until we can see the capital by the sea below us. Now we know we can descend even without the motor running.
And so we stop, for a view and a smoke no doubt, the sun is setting, it’s a sight. When we are ready to leave, the scooter of course says no. As we feared, we are now forced to continue without motor, without lights, in approaching dusk, with barely any traffic, winning over the curves slowly.
When the road flattens out and the town is almost in reach, we pass a police car. The first police car we even see in Greece. Not now. Sure enough, it follows and a policeman signals us to stop.
Ready to start apologising profusely, as one would be required to do in our Slovenia, we are confused by the silence of the policeman who approaches with a determined step, motions to my co-traveller to step away from the scooter, sits on it himself, attacks the starter with a single, practised charge and when the scooter comes alive, turns to leave with only a hint of a smile in his eyes.
The host has fallen asleep, and his son as well. This leaves me and a friend to spend time exploring.
In Los Angeles one doesn’t explore on foot. When we arrived, the host opened the fat map book of Los Angeles on the first page, made a sweeping hand gesture over most of the territory and said: “This is the part you better avoid.”
But they are sleeping now.
So we go out the back door and start walking. The trouble with Los Angeles is that you know it from movies, but it doesn’t know you. So when you get hissed at in Mexican, stared down and out of one neighbourhood after another by groups hanging out at doorsteps, you return home soon.
We see the police car immediately. And even though it’s parked by the road and could be visiting any of the numerous houses in that street, we know at once it’s there for us. What has happened?
We rush to the house where we meet an inquisitive officer and annoyed awaken host. Where did we go? And why did we leave the back door open like that? The neighbour thought there had been a break-in and called the police.
It’s the wee hours. There is no other way to reach home but to walk. No busses, no money for taxi, and anyway, it’s just a few kilometres. We are walking past the railway station to the spot where we have to separate. My friend lives on the other side of the city.
We can feel the police car behind us before we can hear it.
It’s cruising. The window is rolling down and a young jokey voice is asking us if we need a ride. There are two of them. Uncertain whether this is a friendly invitation or an order, we climb in the back seats.
The first thing they ask us is whether we have any cigarettes. They are dying for some.
Then we are asked where we live and the driver decides who to drop off first. It’s my friend. On the way to her place we: start the siren briefly, just for fun; drive much faster than necessary; make a sudden U-turn across the double line that has us flying and hitting the door.
Once she is out, it gets menacing. So much so that I have them stop a few houses before my real one.
When they keep insisting that they come up for some coffee, I tell them that my grandmother is sick and that seeing their uniforms might kill her.