Saturday, 3 March 2012

Rough Guide to Utopia 3

The little white hire-car was so cheap, that I actually cut myself on the dashboard as I fumbled for the ignition key, and the seat would not go far enough back to allow me to unbend my knees.

The high, coastal road was strewn with debris from the goat-infested rocks above it, and at one point I passed an identical vehicle to mine, lying on it's roof with the four - dejected but unhurt - German passengers sitting on a boulder in the heat, waiting for a replacement car.

I soon learnt the local vernacular in roadsigns - a large rock, painted with whitewash and placed right in your path meant that one half of the stretch of highway just around the corner had fallen about a thousand feet into the valley below, and you were quite likely to come up against a gigantic truck, travelling toward you and taking up all of the available remaining road space. All the official road signs up in the hills were peppered with bullet-holes by the boisterous locals.

The greener foothills of the mountain range were carpeted with bright, spring flowers, and the highest of the mountains was capped with snow. I wondered how long into the summer that snow would last.

Finally, the tarmac gave way to a dusty layer of pebbles, and the road abruptly terminated in a row of rocks which deliniated the makeshift car-park from the 900 foot drop behind it.

I got out of the car and looked over the edge, noticing a sharply zig-zagging path on the other side of the valley which was identical to the one I was just about to descend. It looked like a bolt of lightening from the gods who inhabited the mountains.

At the top of the path, one of the mountain pines had a notice attached to it, and the message in four languages read: "Warning! Every year, an average of 5 people suffer a heart attack when walking here, and it can take up to 3 hours for a medical team to reach them. Are you fit enough to make this walk?"

At the third bend, about half way down, I started to get terrible pains in my chest and I sat down on a rock, trying to recover.

This was not supposed to happen. Not five hundred yards in, on the way down.


  1. re the car: I had a friend who always asked me to drive her car (I'm sure it was a Fiat). On changing down into either second or fourth, the gear stick ended-up wedged between the two front seats. As the seats were covered in cheap spiky plastic (like all Fiats), after a few miles my hands would be torn to shreds. Eventually I took to chain mail gauntlets.

  2. Yep - that is the first model of Uno down to a tee.

  3. Roughin' it in Utopia. Love it.

  4. Utopia doesn't sound like -- well like 'Utopia'... and? And.../

  5. It's like watching a movie!

  6. I hope there is not going to be a A
    Utopia 4 because it is pretty scary at this point and i am not sure I want to read the next installment.

  7. I'm fascinated by foreign road signs - the language of graphics.

    Presumably the picture on the sign at the top of the path was of a person clutching at their chest?

    1. Clutching their chest in 4 different languages - with bullet holes.

  8. I wouldn't be driving there for anything...or walking!!