Many days, after I’ve finished teaching English, I become a driver. I just kind of morph into something new. I like this. As volunteers, we do a variety of different things. But my favorite combination of tasks is teaching English in the morning and then driving in the afternoon.
After being in the classroom, even just for an hour, my brain is more than ready to do something a little less intense. The process of driving one of our two vans isn’t a cakewalk since they are so large and the streets of Leros are so narrow and windy; however, it’s just the right amount of activity to keep myself entertained. When driving, we have to monitor who is getting in and out of the vans. This is easier in theory than in reality. Many of the residents like to take advantage of the fact that we have two vehicles regularly making the trip from the Hotspot to town where the Hub is. I don’t blame them, I would to. However, we have to emphasize time and time again that we are not a taxi service. We exist to shuttle students to their classes, not as a bus to get people to the local markets and stores. This consistently feels harsh, as we’re checking individual I.D.s each time someone we don’t recognize tries to hitch a ride, but it’s the only way to make sure that seats are available for those who are actually going to class and not abusing the system.
So, as I’m turning the wheel of the van and down shifting around bends in the road that line the side of a yellow flower-covered hill on the left and the crashing Aegean sea three meters down on the right, my brain isn’t exactly off. At the same time though, there are moments when I can appreciate the way the sun illuminates the hillside. When I even crack a smile as I realize that driving this darn van matters, and that I’m dodging the New York winter. It’s not so bad. It’s simple. It’s driving.