Rules of the Road

Once on Kefalonia much that you have always believed about the automobile goes out of the window. Firstly, shiny is not good. To Kefalonians, dings and blemishes are valued as a testimony to how worthless the car is and how poor its owner must be (as in, please note Mr. Taxman, I have nothing, absolutely nothing, look at the beaten up old car I drive).

Luckily, manufacturers seem to make special cars for the island.  The cars are unique in that they don’t need servicing and brake pads never need replacing.  Moreover, if the rubber isn’t transparent then the tyres are fine.

Secondly, what others in Europe might see as a requirement, as in, you are required to drive on one side of the road, your true Kefalonian views as a suggestion, worthy of consideration most of the time, but to be ignored without notice if the mood is upon them. Because of this I have advice for any visitor: drive defensively.

Thirdly, selling new cars is not a thing in Kefalonia. The true Kefalonian prides himself on how many kilometers he can get out of his car before it succumbs to a terminal case of rust.  There is fierce competition about this. I told a friend about a guy with a taxi that has clocked two million kilometers.  “Nothing,” said my friend disparagingly, “I know that taxi driver, he had to replace some parts on that car.”

Then there is the little matter of car licenses.  There is grudging acknowledgement that licensing one’s car is legally necessary, but there is no desperate hurry to complete the paperwork; years can fly by; after all there aren’t many police on Kefalonia and besides we know them all.

Parking is also a little different on Kefalonia. Here it is simple, if your car can fit, park there; red lines, yellow lines, pavements, we bite our thumb sir, those rules are not meant for us, we live here. There is an exception to this, taxi ranks are verboten. Do not park on a taxi rank, life is too short.

Then there is the Kefalonian attitude towards traffic circles. In most of the world, at traffic circles you give way to vehicles already on the circle, in Greece if you are on the circle you stop and let other traffic in, in Kefalonia all of this is confusing, so we just give way to no man, he who brakes loses.

Given all of the above, it is fortunate that the island’s patron saint is very active. His name is Saint Gerasimos and he is a very important bloke around here; I love the fact that among many other duties, he is the patron saint of the marginally insane.

Me, I make sure I buckle up and remember that a safe speed limit is between 20 and 50 kilometres an hour. Or you can try praying to Saint Gerasimos.