A magic night

April 30, 2014

Magic.

Magic is good. Magic of life and this big IT that is this Universe and our being IT in IT. The day started with a bit of frustration as I could not get WIFI and I had many things of the “real world” that needed my attention. Things like taxes, residence permits, bank account balances and the such. And on top of it, my head was full of this uncertainty of tomorrow regarding the permit that brings with it the possibility of having to leave Istanbul in a little more than a month, a thing for which I really am not ready.

I finally landed at Chillout where the WIFI was alive and spent a few hours digging into websites, forums, banking and all that stuff. Then my angel showed up. Maryam. Oh what a joy to see her shine so. She now finally has her passport. There had been a big confusion last week that resulted in her having to change her flight to Lebanon, she came back from a first trip to Ankara empty handed having to go back there to finally have the precious document in her hand.

She leaves today, so we hung out. I am very, so very happy for her. She is going to Beirut and it seems perfect. We went out and we splurged into having a meal in a restaurant (!) and then we went for a fancy desert in a fancy place. Yes my angel… I’ve written much about her, there is no need to expound more, but lets just say I adore this girl and the bright sun of her beingness. I will miss her.

Later that night, I had a last minute show booked at Karakedi. Joris the violinist who was playing with Eren and I a little while back is visiting town for a week and Eren managed to get us to play. I had not performed in a while… about a month. About an hour before the show, while standing outside the venue with Maryam and I was overcome with emotion. It hits me that way. I go on feeling just fine whilst pushing what I actually feel down into my heels.. but I can only do this for so long… All the goings on taking place these last few days were stirring me up

“I don’t even feel like playing…” I said to Maryam.

“Why??”

“It’s too much…” I said… I was feeling the tears coming up, which is so very annoying…

and on this, Joris appeared, coming up the street loaded with a huge backpack and his violin. It was as if he had never left… Friends… We hugged, then Eren and Joris hugged and it was such a thing of beauty.

In those beautiful moments, all makes sense. The ups the downs, the unexpected and the seemingly neverending that lead to this very precise instant become all totally worth it. Inside the venue, there was the spoken word event that takes place once a month. I was to come on and play the last song and tell the people about our concert hopefully enticing people to hang out, then Eren would set his drum kit and we would start. I was going sing alone but Joris joined and then as we played Eren joined in on the snare… it was perfect.

As I sing the words “Let be, the Love that stills the heart, let be the knowing rising deep inside, let him show you the way, close your eyes and trust…” I started to float on the moment. The worries erasing. This scene, moment, instant so beautiful. Meaningful. To be playing with two of my very favorite musicians in this room filled with these souls, I felt blessed beyond belief.

The night went on as we played our concert. Eren said after the performance : “Tonight was perfect” It seemed that people were feeling everything we did, a woman who was dancing obviously totally into the music came and put a ring with a huge red stone on my right hand. She gave this red ‘ring of power’ to me out of bliss. We had this something that happens sometimes with the music when everyone slides into the groove and the mood, the energy grows into something that envelops all. Last night was like that. Blessed.

But there was more to the night… Conversations took the shape of guiding lights. First it was with Joris who asked why I wouldn’t try to play bigger venues, do more with the music. My answer was the usual “the music industry sucks” which I realize is a stock excuse-answer. Then I said something about not being so great, which is another stupid way to not face things. To that he said, everyone loves what you do… and as I played, and after I got off the stage, seeing the happy glow of happiness that had engulfed everyone, I could not deny this.

Of course it’s not the first time I get this acknowledgment from life. Music is always the thing that makes my life make sense. I know these things. These things that make my existence feel aligned with the greater forces, with the IT. Like the cell in the heart that does its job to keep the heart pumping to keep the body alive.

After the show I sat with friends, I brought up the residency issue and a new friend, suggested something that might solve the insurance issue and the whole residency issue. I will see him later today, we can talk more.

Umut who just came back from a few months in India was telling me about it. Yes, India again. I need to go… Eren is talking about Berlin. Motion is in the cards, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely, recluse thing… I know that I have to honor my gifts and maybe that is why life has given me so many chances at it… setting me free in a world where so many are tied by the bounds of family, jobs, responsibilities.

Later Joris and I stopped for some soup then to Chillout where he is staying. We chatted longer, he went to sleep and I kept talking with Talat who made me realize once again the magnitude and the gift of my freedom… Being Canadian, like it or not, opens the doors of the world. This passport thing is a weighty document in this society. He spoke with so much passion about his country, his struggles, his fights.

How amazing is this chance to exchange and interact. I find meaning through others, this interaction inside the IT. The red blood cell gathering oxygen, again, keeping the organism alive. We need each other. We are each other.

I ended up walking back to Tarlabasi around 6 AM. Walking gently in the slowly stirring to life Istanbul. Before everyone and everything gets up to its relentless speed. It feels like the World is where I should be, go, experience. Home is a nice thought but a static one. I am not a static particle. Oh Istanbul one more time you shook me, hugged me, pushed me, loved me and I love you back. All is well. Really truly.

Should I stay or should I go?

It has been the question on my mind for a while and now that my residence permit is almost over and I have to consider action.. it is now at the forefront of my preoccupations. The thing expires on June 9.

I started the renewal process yesterday I took an appointment online and that felt really good. It felt like I finally had turned on the light in a dark room. One way or another, If it is renewed then I have the choice to do whatever I feel. That gave me a boost, “Yeah” good something is happening. But later, a friend told me about this new thing that is required: health insurance that costs 250 lira per month, that is 3000 lira that I would have to come up with up front. Well, I don’t have that. So no more choice… so this morning I scoured the internet for more information about this insurance and very little shows up other than it is a new requirement. Can I get my own policy (I found travel insurance for a year for $450 online… would that work?) But this new fact brought me back to this “what’s next?” position all over again.

So many things are moving, evolving, changing… people leaving, places closing… yes, it is quite normal for this place. When I think of leaving something comes to make me want to stay… When I think of staying another event happens that make me feel that I should maybe go then…

I play tonight at Karakedi, with Eren and Joris. Yes, Joris had left and he is back for two days and miraculously Eren was able to get us a night at Karakedi. Another friend from Iran will be here in 5 days… Last week Jule was here. After almost a year I can see the cyclic nature of this city. People come to visit, then leave and eventually come back in cycles, while the natives live through this flow of incoming and outgoing humanity.

I have a tremendous love for this place. I made some deep friendships that are really hard to imagine leaving behind. If I try to imagine not being here it seems I would just miss my friends, the color of the light, the cats, the buildings, the philosophy of life so much… Then there is this thing about not getting attached… letting all go. It’s been truly amazing…

Decisions seems easier to make when there is a future plan, a goal, a target. I don’t really have such a thing. I don’t have career dreams and expectations and must haves anymore. I am just happy to play when I can, when there are ears… I am just happy to help whenever, whoever and wherever I can… I am not in a hurry to go back to the materialistic West with its hard rules and its unstoppable obsession for money. I think in wide strokes about writing, music, practice, walking… There are places I could go volunteer for a while all over the world. It would make for great experiences. then I come back to that question: What do I want? and that is where it gets strange, I don’t really “want” anything specific. I do miss my friends over in North America… I can always come back… I think of all that the world offers… so much to see… Where does one start?

6th Day

April 23, 2014

6h day…
it’s hard to grasp that I’ve been back in Istanbul for 6 days already… I still am confounded with the way the days seem to smoothly go by and yet, are so filled with so much that one has a hard time keeping track with all that took place in a 24 hour period.

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Since I came back it’s been all about friends, and that feels so good. I first saw Eren, then Meron, then all the people at Karakedi, the friends at Chillout, it was really cool. I saw Maryam not so well as she has been waiting for her passport for three months… then Maryam completely elated as the passport arrived. She is leaving for Beirut on Monday, so we hung out quite a bit together these last few days. Jule came to visit us for a week, we spent time together. Meron and I were hanging out together on Friday and we found the perfect chair for my baglama practice, the thing was sitting there, abandoned on the street. But Meron is also leaving… he is going to leave any day now for a while. The constant Istanbul dance of comings and leavings of friends, new faces, old faces…

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The strangest thing I found in coming back here was that everything seemed the same. You know when you go away usually things look different; bigger, smaller, nicer, worse… but this time it was all the same but I felt I was the one who was different. Rested. Refreshed. With the images of Crete still vibrant in my mind. The air… the flowers…

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The big bonus: I have really learned a lot at my baglama seminar. At times I truly wondered if my head was going to explode but now I can see that I have absorbed a lot of information as I go back over the materials we worked so hard on. I have been practicing between 3 to 5 hours a day since I’ve been back. Now I am considering going back for the summer seminar. Get another dose of intense learning while I am here. I am not sure that I can find this sort of training here in Istanbul. So far I have not been able to do that. What I have learned in Crete showed me how much and how I should be learning.

I wish to really practice intensively for the next few months. Meron offered me a place to stay until August and it seems that I honor this by really working hard for these next 3 months.

coming to the forefront is the issue of my residency permit which will expire in late June. The rules have now changed and it is going to be a priority in these next few weeks to see if I can renew it and for how long. In a way it might be a bit simpler since we have to go through our embassies. I now have a contact there, after renewing my passport and that should help with the process.

Yeah, sorry, no massive piles of photos on this post! My apologies to the visually hungry! Next is a not so exciting necessity to handle papers, taxes, banking and money issues as soon as possible. I have avoided those for a while and I need to get that happening!

Hugs to all.

the way back to Istanbul

April 18, 2014

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started with a rainbow

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leaving Greece
I’m not sure how I feel… a bit sad I think..

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High in the sky

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Approaching and reaching Istanbul

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and then in Beyoglu

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started in the dark with the moon shining so bright at 5:30 AM
Then this incredible sun rise over Rethymnon
Then the rainbow
then the incredible skies
then this sunset…

it just goes to show, no matter where you are life is beautiful

Tuesday

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I did find the sea… I went West, found a trail, many fences that have been breached, then ended up on top of an abandoned hotel facing the sea. I had taken the dirt track and it got me there. I was trying to get down from there but it was too high to jump… I found an abandoned room with these painting on the wall…

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then stairs… down one level, but it was still too high. Two fat women and a guy were watching me. One of the women said angrily:

“What are you doing there!? You can’t come down.”

“I came the wrong way.”

They could actually help me down, but you know humans and this thing about “can’t” and rules and conventions… And you know my intense allergy to “Can’t” So I thought to myself: “Watch me.”

I climb on the side of the wall, but there were new plants that had just been put in the earth below and I didn’t want to destroy anything. I went back up the stairs… looked. Found. And I jumped as they watched and walked by them down to the water. In my mind I stuck my tongue at them: Pffffttrrrrr!!!

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Now to the water. The set up: It’s about 4 PM, 22 degrees Celsius, the sand is golden, the water turquoise, you can see the bottom and it’s like crystal. I took my shoes, bracelets, jacket and bag off. I walked into the water. It’s cold. It’s like a caress. It’s been a long time since I went in any sort of natural body of water. It’s the first time in … 3,4 years that I am actually wearing shorts… I decided not to care if I was to blind a few people with my extreme whiteness… Oh it’s so good. The waves come and hit me, they are not big but the bottom is slippery and I quickly fall. Water in my mouth, oh it is so salty. I swim. It is amazing.

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After a while I get out. I went in with shorts and top.. I don’t have a swim suit, so that does not dry that well, but it’s warm. I walk back to Plakias. There is a field of wheat. It’s so high… up to my waist and more, and there are those daisies… I feel the earth, the life. It’s as if the field could swallow me. This energy… the earth… without warning I cry. I miss the earth. The bees buzz all around. This is their world.

Back at the hostel. I play all night.

Wednesday
I wake up it’s not so sunny, but it’s nice. I found good espresso. Greeks love good coffee so it’s easy to find. I go enjoy a double come back and start practicing. I play for 2 hours or so. Then I go for a hike. I walk by this place on the sea, it’s called the rocks because the water is full of big rocks sticking out… I promise myself to come swim here later

I up, up, up. It is pretty amazing… the life, the smell of olive trees, the buzz of the bees again. They say the bees are dying everywhere… not here. There is no one around and I love it.

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Back down to the hostel and I cook some food. I have Prince as my helper. I make a feast of pasta, tomatoes, kabak, onions and cheese. With the taste of olive oil and herbs here any food becomes glorious in an instant. I eat and it’s delicious. I clean my stuff up, put on my shorts and sport top and out again I go.

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The night is approaching but it’s still light. I walk to the rocks place. In the water I go. There is no more sun. but the water is good. Oh…. I swim for a good while as I watch the clouds who are like giant ships in the sky, they are white with the gold from the sunset. They shift, approach… over the mountain, a man’s face appears, it’s mouth open. I head out towards the big open sea past the rocks… it’s always a bit frightening… I try to turn around but Poseidon doesn’t really want to let me back towards the beach… he holds on to me a bit… but slowly, slowly I return, I can see one day that I should heed his call and not return. Meet him, like in my song… but this time I would not faint because of his beauty. I would look at him, deeply in the eyes and I would reach out to touch him… (the song is Tourne from Aventuriere Accidentelle)

I went back to the hostel. I am soaked. A guy at the door of a restaurant (they stand there trying to lure tourists in) says to me: give me your card, I have a phone, I will call you… he had asked me to stop by after my swim when I first walked to the beach. He laughed, a woman who was doing the same job at the next restaurant laughed and I laughed too.

Back at the hostel… more playing. This course I took, I did learn. I was not so sure if it was going to “take’ or not… I was so stressed at times, trying to keep up… but I have learned a great deal. It is starting to show. I play until about 1:30 when one of the women from my dorm came with a sort of panic on her face and asked me to stop playing. I was shocked. I didn’t realize that they could hear me… I apologized… I hate this… always kicked out of places for playing… I stopped, not ready to. And that frustrated me more, so I watched another Alan Watts lecture on Youtube. Awesome. After that I quietly slipped into bed.

Thursday
Last day. The women in the dorm woke me up at 8 something… crap. It’s raining out. I go back to sleep after asking them if they could be more quiet. I went for coffee… the people are so nice, I tell them it’s my last cafe here. We chat a bit. Back to the hostel I pack. Get ready for the 3 pm bus.

The bus shows up late. Then up the hill he goes the wrong way. The views are spectacular. We had a massive thunderstorm coming from the sea. It was so powerful, the whole land got soaked so it’s impossibly green now , all over, a green symphony.

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We get into Rethymnon. I find the hostel following my nose. I laughed out loud… I walked… not too fast, looking around… on the Hostel website there was a painting of a guy sitting at the hostel and a minaret was sticking out… I sort of knew the approximate direction as I had looked on Google map but here too there are no street names to be found. So I proceeded.. saw a minaret… then turned… then turned again, after about 10 steps I saw the sign. I dropped my stuff off and headed out for a walk to see the fortress… there was a way to get in but they want money and I don’t have any to spare… so I skip it.

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This place is mystical. Especially out of the cities… Out there one gets visions of creatures, Gods and sea spells to mind. When I was walking out in the hills I could almost feel myself wearing sandals and a tunic… really… If I came back, I would like to just go on foot. Anywhere… on the small roads, through the small villages. Good shoes, a GPS and not much more and then just walk. Feel the place. This was like a little tasting… but at least, I have been here. it”s pretty unbelievable… Tomorrow back to Istanbul. That is not real either yet… I don’t know what awaits me. We’ll see. In the mean time, I am so grateful for my time in Crete.

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We’ll go to the sea…

April 15, 2014

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Blue. In front of me, a blue expanse of sea. The waves come in all of them gentle. Far in the distance I can see the outline of another island. The blue goes from gold to deep blue into the distance. What the hell? What am I doing here? This is the stuff of dreams, stuff I would have never imagined getting myself to do. But here I am.

Yesterday I took something like 1200 photos during the day. Intoxicated by the nature, the flowers, the beauty of the day. Then, night and the moon came out and we had a date. I was running down the streets following her, she was dancing with the clouds up there and I ran around with the camera, giggling, laughing out loud unable to stop myself, feeling so incredibly lucky.

Is the magic in the air, in the place? Or is the magic always in the human? Is the magic temporary or always available? Is it magic? Or is it just that when we ourselves, get out of the way everything is, in actuality, immensely magical?

It has been good to be by myself. Away from the constant flirting of Istanbul. She is a demanding mistress with its nights, music, friends, energy, shapes and colors, madness and exuberance. It has been good to feel the earth, hear birds sing, see nature, flowers, trees… feel connected to the world of the earth as opposed to the world of humans.

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Today I will endeavor to find a beach and go in the sea… I need to meet with Poseidon, it’s been too long… get myself in the healing waters and bask in the superpowers of the sea God. I will stay one more night here then tomorrow I will walk again. My body is much better than it was a few days ago. One blister still is a bit tender, I’ll have to heed the body’s demands and stop when it requests such a thing. And… I have better shoes now, not great but much, much better. What I really need are shoes that have adjustable suspension, like on my motorcycle, so when I carry my bag I could tighten it up.

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I’ve had some nice talks on Skype these last two days… I called mom. It is always incredible to hear a smile form on her voice when she recognizes me on the line. With Skype, if you try to look up who is calling it appears like some kind of phone spam, she took a chance and answered, I was laughing.

“Allo.”

“Allo…”

“It’s Greece calling…”

then followed the recognition and laughter. For those who asked, she is doing well after the cancer surgery. She has started to make music again, always a good sign. I am thankful. Very much so.

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Only a few more days in this paradise. North American city planners could take a lesson or two in land management from this place…. I am amazed at the fact that this island has been inhabited for centuries and it is not fowled and broken and polluted like what we are doing over back home. We in the West have much to learn.

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now for the night images

April 15, 2014

Oh moon, moon, moon how I love you… tonight you shone like the sun and made me run like a mad girl, laughing and exclaiming all over town… I was the only one there worshiping you…

My moon, my beautiful moon you make the world anew with your pure light
Oh how I love you

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You won’t believe… I took over a thousand photos today… I went for a 3 KM walk and it took over 4 hours… I am under the spell of the the Cretan flowers…

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have had enough yet? HA HA HA!!! I have motion sickness from looking in the viewer that much!

see ya next time!

which sign do you follow?

which sign do you follow?

Waiting for the bus… the last two days were really just about resting. I didn’t even go out to the museums… probably couldn’t afford it anyways. What I did was a trip of another kind. I somehow thought of Alan Watts, a post on Facebook led me to a video. In college I had studied one of his book in my very first philosophy class. I ended up listening to lectures for hours yesterday. My mind completely blown.

Right now I sit in the Rethymnon bus station. I reviewed some of the videos from the baglama course. I am here in Crete until Friday. Next, I am heading to Plakias, there is a very well reviewed hostel there. I am hoping to swim, I have not swum for a long time. It seems this sea water would do me wonders. I plan to stay in Plakias for two days, then if my feet and all are OK (they are much improved BTW) I want to walk for the remaining of the days. Then back to Istanbul.

From there? I don’t know.

Being in Greece, in the “Western world” brings some considerations to the forefront. For one, what a relief to be in a place where women have more of an equal status. I surprised myself at being surprised at seeing a woman tending the register at a convenience store… I had not seen this in almost a year… to see the girls ride their scooters proudly, women live their lives in the open, standing tall… Yeah, I miss this sense of just being a human being instead of being sub-male, sub-human, yabanci person. At the same time I feel there is much more to be lived in Turkey, but I’ll have to re-define how I do it.

My residency permit expires in late June, I’ll have to make some decisions very soon about what to do next. The walking I did this last week really was something I would love to do more of. But I also seriously need to look at my finances. I am nearly completely out of funds. There are things I can do like Workaway, a volunteering website that offers all sorts of options to work all over the world. I could do this. I think I would like to write some music, but that requires that I have a quiet, inexpensive place and some funds or a part time job to support myself during the process. Dunno, dunno, dunno…

…But in the mean time I enjoy being here… and I’ll try to live every second to the fullest. Answers always come.

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It had started with me waking up in the hotel in Pyrgos. I was cold. It seems everywhere is cold around here at night. I had packed up my things meticulously then went to meet Manolis as promised. He was in the cafe with two friends, one of which I’ll keep running into all day long. Manolis makes me cafe and it is really good. I am kind of wishing I had decided to stay for two nights instead of one, but my fear that he may get to want more than simply being friends and my fear of abusing the goodness led me to say that I was only going to stay one night.

They talk to me, laugh, I don’t understand anything but it’s a good feeling. The two men leave, the one I’ll run into all day bought my cafe. Thank you! I say. Manolis and I talk about the road to take. He picks up a decorative map of Crete on the wall and shows me a few different ways to Matala. He leaves for a moment and comes back with something close to Turkish börek for breakfast. I am really moved by his hospitality.

I go check the shoe store but there is nothing suitable, I grab a couple of chocolate bars for the road, in there the grocer asks me if I am German. I get asked that a lot, I wonder why. Canada I say and he laughs and jokes. People are always ready to laugh in these parts. It feels good. I head back to the cafe, we exchange addresses. He does not have any internet… I have no phone. But who knows, one day I can write him a letter and he can do the same and there is always google translate. Around 10 or so it’s time to go, I pick up my bag, guitar, baglama, we say goodbyes and I head down the road.

The morning is amazing. Walking… A few minutes in the walk I see Manolis’ friend for the first time, he asks if I want to ride, but no, I want to walkd. The walking is interesting. This feeling of being on the earth close to everything, the birds, the sun, the wind. The sound of the bells from the sheep or goats’s necks. Dogs bark. The flowers are absolutely amazing, they grow wild with such enthusiasm. Such an expression of life, it fills me with joy. This world so beautiful.

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I make it to Harakas, then Asisi. 14 Kilometers. Not bad at all. in Asisi for the second time I see Manolis’s friend, he’s in his car and points at his watch, making signs as “you took your sweet time!” I laugh. I stop at a cafe. Greece is the land of cafes, people really know how to enjoy their cafes. The cappuccinos are really good here and everyone makes them everywhere. I walk in and ask about internet, they point to upstairs… I go up and it’s like an internet cafe with computers. I come back down.

“No, wifi?” they give me the code. 5 or 6 men sitting at the bar are all eyes. They are drinking raki with nuts and artichokes and fresh beans. One guy buys me a shot. !! Raki in the middle of the day… after walking… Well I can’t be rude. I down it. It’s actually not bad, not as strong as some stuff I’ve had that would just knock me to my knees. They ask me questions, where I am from and all that stuff. I ask about a shoe store, they show me, just a block down the road. It was so convivial. They are all willing and ready to help. I ask about Matala, they show me the way. I go back to my table and write for an hour or so then go in, pay, and load up my bag and get ready to go. As I sit there Manolis friend appears for a last time, saying things enthusiastically to me… come, come… but I don’t know what he says… maybe I’m missing something really cool…

I get to the store. Closed. That, made me sad and a bit panicked. Hmmm… I have been OK so far but earlier I felt the blister burst on my right foot and I can feel friction and when you hurt you start walking differently and my right leg is not quite right because of this. And there is the fact of carrying this weight. These Converse offer no support and I’m carrying this extra 30 pounds… that is what causes the biggest issue… It’s a lot harder on the feet, the hips and the back. I try to open the door one last time a false little hope that it would come open. It doesn’t.

Lets go then. I head out of town, step by step. Yes, the real time nature of walking. I walk another 3 KM. I have to stop as something got into my left shoe. This is starting to be pretty bad. All right then, lets go.

An intersection. Which way to go? I cannot recognize any of the names. I pick the right side. That was wrong. The road starts to climb up. My pace slows down. Every change in gradient I feel acutely. Now my feet positively hurt, but I see the end in sight, a village ahead, so I carry on. It is so beautiful. I am progressing almost alone in this live postcard the weather is perfect. A small white pick up truck slows down and stops. Where am I going? Matala I say. He makes big gestures… No! Wrong way!! And at that moment when I considered having to walk back this distance so bravely covered, every shred of spring I had in my step died… you mean… this hill… these 4 km or so I walked… all for nothing?

But in retrospect this is how I went wrong. Not in walking up this road but in thinking this was a mistake. In hanging onto an unimportant idea: going to Matala and not letting things happen. I just stood there completely discomfited… and turned back…. Morale will keep bruised, blistered and tortured feet going. Loss of morale will make you feel every bit of pain into the deep of your heart and soul. I feel a touch of despair… Ah if I could have bought new shoes….

As I walked I straightened up… holy damned hell… since so much of life is a matter of how you see it I decided to act as if nothing was the matter… I will never, ever wear a pair of Converse in my life again… I covered the distance back to where I had headed north… No problem, no problem… lifted the back, tried to loosen my stride. A few steps down the road a moped pulls up to me. I am puzzled wondering what the guy wants… He asks Where are you going? Matala. He says something I don’t understand…

“I am Muhammad” he says.

“Daniella” (they all seem to not understand my name when I say Danielle.) He says come on… !!
I climb on. Well I didn’t expect to ride anything resembling motorycle trip on this journey! So I sit behing him with this massive backpack the guitar tied to it, my baglama in my right hand and I’m hanging on to him with my left. I feel gravity and wind pulls on the bag… it’s not great… but it’s so much better than walking!! I move my toes in my shoes… ow, ow, ow… my feet…. the wind comes in the shoes… oh… that feels good… oh how I hurt… I have bloody blisters on both my feet, my little toes are killing me, I have strange shocks of pain going through the arches… so right now I am absolutely loving the back of the moped.

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He stops.. as if he’d read my mind, he asks me to puts my bag in front of his feet, I put on my coat, which had also been tied to the backpack, it will keep me warm as I was starting to get cold after sweating for hours… so now I only have the guitar and baglama on my back and it’s much better… I’m looking around and the scenery is so beautiful, I got my camera out of my pocket and I took some video as we rolled…

I am totally enjoying the ride! It’s exhilarating… the wind on my face… that little thing just roaring down the Cretan road. No one needs a big engined motorcycle here… finally he drops me off. He wants me to wait for him, as he is going to work… wait 20 minutes… I come back and pick you up we can have cafe…

http://youtu.be/nPkPJLMIelY link to some of the view….

“hmm.. I dunno..”. Well I do. I don’t want to wait… I am, again, not wanting to get ties… free I must be. He insists, says it’s dangerous. To that I had to laugh! Dangerous it is not! I feel it more complicated to keep things simple with these strange men than being out in the open and do my thing. So I thank him take a picture and go on.

I walk on… a car stops soon after. Two guys, Albanians. No one speaks each other’s languages… we try to talk but it’s kind of useless. The next town is Melis, it looks like a fairly big sized place, maybe I can find shoes… I ask them to let me off here. I have cafe, check the email, the maps, the options. After that cafe, I go looking for shoes. It is hard to walk now. Oh my God… When you sit and then start again… phew… I ask a taxi driver about Matala and about a shoe store… he says 20 euros for the ride, and a shoe store is up the road, he would wait for me and take me to Matala after I buy the shoes… Hmmm maybe.

At the shoe store I am astounded at the prices… 40 Euros is the cheapest price for very low quality runners… yikes. I should have bought in Istanbul, they had really good ones for 20 Euros… Sometimes my stinginess hurts me more than anything else. I had decided to try to just wear my Converse and not spend the money then… now it’s time to pay and my cards don’t work. I pay with the last cash I had, so I have no money for the taxi guy. I tell him so. He insists, he’ll take me to the bank and wait and then take me to Matala… I feel that he’s putting way too much pressure so I tell him that I don’t know if the bank machine will work and I don’t want to feel obligated so we’ll part ways here.

The bank machine works. I meet two French backpackers… Like me they are not overly excited with this city much… I tell them about Pyrgos and how awesome the small villages were. We say our goodbyes and at this poin I decide to keep walking on. First, woman sends me the wrong way. Second, a man sends me the other way, mentioning something about a large factory and the first road to the left.

I am thinking that I’ll get a ride, that everything will work out and it did… But maybe I should have stopped at this point… but, I went on, bound to make it. 30 minutes into the walk I realized I had not used the washroom since…. noon, it’s 7 PM or so… I see a gas station. I ask to use the washroom. They say no. Uh? I said “OK… whatever…”

I can hold it… then 20 minutes later I realize I am just completely starving… low blood sugar… I am shaking… crap. OK. Stop on the side of the road and eat some of the food I had. It revives me. I carry on. Large factory in sight. First road to the left, I take it.

Walk, walk… so today it’s been… 14 KM plus about 7,8 KM added for my wrong direction, then hmm.. 5, 6 km here on that road.. somewhere near 30 KM today, with my messed up feet… everything hurts. But I carry on. A car slows down. Susana, a German woman She drives me for about 10 KM. Drops me off, about 2 minutes later a German couple stops they take me to Matala.

Hey! I made it, I thought.

But there is no hostel. No one knows about a hostel here. I did see this place online… the fatigue is really hitting me and it is starting to get hard to compute. WIFI, I’ll find the place on the internet and go there and all will be fine…. I find a cafe, find the place… 12 Euros a night. It’s located back the way I came so I walk some more… the walking now is an ugly duckling stumble but I get there. I am limping pitifully. I get to the desk. No one… a sign says go to the information near the pool… Argh… gotta walk back… I do but there is no one there. I come back. I am so tired. Someone tells me that usually there is nobody here at night. Ah, to have come so far and to be at the very door ready to take this burden off my back, shower and rest… I just sat down and closed my eyes. I almost fall asleep right there. A man comes by and asks me if I was looking for a room, tells me about going next to the pool…

“I was there, there is no one there.”

“Are you OK?”

“Oh yes, it’s just been a very long day.”

“I will try to make a call and see if I can get you a booking.”

He goes away, I’m so exhausted, some tears roll down my face. I rest right there, my two instruments against me, my legs elevated on the bag and close my eyes. What a day… I doze off. His girlfriend comes back, how many nights she asks. She is on the phone, she asks for my passport, I get it out. How much? 20 Euros.. But the internet said 12… no there is no way, it’s always 20… I am so tired, what I should have done was to stay one night instead of two and figure things out tomorrow… but I am fried and all I think is 40 euros gone in one fell swoop… it’s too much… and, and, and… the girl hung up the phone. I ask if I can use the washroom. The last stop was… at noon… She says no. No? Really? OK then I’ ll leave. Thank you very much. I loaded my things back up and left the place.

Down the road was a place with a sign for rooms. I knock on a door. They open, two women, watching TV and Skyping some guy.

“How many nights?”

“well I don’t know it depends on the price.”

They exchange in Greek, they don’t speak much English… They keep trying to get me to commit to say how many nights… I keep saying that I need to know the price. They get the guy on Skype to translate.

“30 Euros.” She said.

“Too expensive.” I said and walked away. Out in the dark night. Everyone is in bed it seems… the place is deserted. I walk painfully back to the town. See this hotel, it’s a huge complex. I walk into the reception. There is no one around. I call out “Hello?” Nobody. I ring the bell at the counter… a few moments later a woman comes from what looks to be an appartment a few steps below.

“What is it?”

“I would like a room.”

She eyes me, then categorically answers:

“NO!!!”

She stands there, the typical Greek older woman, salt and pepper hair severely tied back, a huge frown in her black eyebrows, hands on her hip, black shirt, black skirt and black stockings into black shoes. At that very sound of this NO! I felt utterly kicked out of the Universe.

“OK”

I walked out into the night, looked up at the moon being covered by clouds and whimpered. What the hell… “I’m so tired…” To me it was a Herculean kind of day… all this walking.. all this striving to make it here… and now I really, really wish to lie down. Rest. But I have to keep trudging around with this load on my back, with my body starting to give me a giant fuck you because of all the abuse I put it through. I walked around town again and ended up at the bar where I had gotten the wifi earlier. I go directly to the bathroom. I will not ask this time.

I go in sit down get the computer and start trying to figure things out. OK there is really nothing cheap around here…. I cannot stay. But I cannot leave right now. I start looking at what I will do tomorrow… I would like to go to Plakias, there is a gorgeous hostel there… but now I see that If I had continued on that northern road, it would have been more possible to get to Plakias… I check a million of options. Decide to go back to Heraklion. There is the hostel, 9 euros… I will be able to rest there. Tonight, well I will have to stay out.

I will stay in this bar until they close. It’s warm, there’s internet… at about 1AM the bartender stops the music, the internet dies. I say something to him about not having a place to stay.

“Got here too late to find something…’

“Well, I have a room with an extra bed, you can stay there and sleep.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, no problem.”

hmmm… uh OK maybe that is an easy turn of events… but somehow I’m not thrilled.

“What do you want to drink?”

Hmmmm… I don’t want to drink really… I think to myself. I try to tell him but he offers me raki and we have a shot.

“I just have to finish cleaning and we can go up.”

I am not feeling this… I think. But maybe I am judgemental… just stay alert…

he finishes, we exchange pleasanteries and I can’t help but think about what the guy had said in Houdetsi about words used to lie… We walk up the stairs, to the top floor, walk in the apartment, he shows me my bed, he has his… OK that works so far. I see the bathroom. Think of how good a shower would feel… I start getting my things out of my pack… and start to feel that I really don’t like this. He walks in the room.

“organizing your things?”

“Yeah.”

He comes close to me and puts a hand on my shoulder and starts rubbing it a bit, his head leaning next to me.

“You know, I just had a very long day… I’m not into this right now.”

“Ah, yeah, no problem… you have your bed I have mine…” He walks away. I make my decision. I will change clothes, use the washroom and leave. I do that. When I come out of the washroom I start putting back the layers of clothes, the jacket the pack, the instruments. He sees me heading for the door.

“What are you doing? You can stay…”

“No, it’s OK, thank you so very much…”

“No, no, really, don’t do that…”

“Thank you so much, really, I could not sleep anyways…”

He insisted a bit more as I headed the dark stairwell and out into the night I went. Yes, that definitely feels better. It is going to be a long cold night. But that’s OK. I can do it. I headed out to the beach. The moon is right above the sea, illuminating it, the wind blows, the waves coming, coming and coming again, endlessly. It is amazing. And cold. I find a big rock, there is a perfect spot to lie down and cradle my head. I watch the water for a long time. The sound, the sight.. the water crashing on the big rock wall… in the moonlight, the waves make shapes that get the imagination going… creatures… this constance of the waves… how can it never stop like this… the colors of the night. The rock wall is lit up. there are holes in it they say some early Christians used ato live in those, then in the sixties the hippies came… It is so quiet, no one around. I realize I am lucky to see this place this empty, in a couple of weeks the tourists will pour in… I Almost fall asleep but it’s too cold. I keep waking up with shivers. I wrap the yoga mat I had with me around my legs and waist, that helps but it is still cold. I doze off. Suddenly wake up as the waves started licking the rock ahead of my feet… gotta go. It’s now around 3 something. I walk around. There is one club that is still going, I can see maybe 4 people in there. I don’t want to go in. I just walk around. A white and caramel cat started to follow me.

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“Hi baby! Whassup?”

“Meow!”

I kneel down he gets really close but when he smells my hand he just frisks away. I talk to him as we walk together up a small street. I turn back, he turns back. Then another cat shows up. A black one, they are all frisky with each other, as if the cold of the night made them electric. They follow me for a while, look at me as I talk to them. We do this for maybe 45 minutes, then they get interested in some garbage and I kept going.

I need a warm spot. The warmest spots feels too dark, too remote. All the cafes leave their chairs outside when they are closed, so I decide to sit a this cafe-waffle place. There is some sheltering against the constant sea winds coming in. I eat some of the food I have. I doze a bit, get cold, wake up, grab the guitar and start playing. I play this new song I wrote lately, the lyrics: “I move, take one step, then another..” perfect for these last few days.

It’s now just before 5 AM… 2 more hours to the bus. I put the guitar away. Yes those are always the coldest hours… the very early morning. The moon is gone, the stars shine brighter, more numerous. I wrap myself again into the yoga mat. It is so cold and I again, could really use a restroom… I sit there, I wait for the morning. At six I’m too cold. I get up walk around some more. Oh my bag… so heavy… I see the sun rise and it’s really beautiful. I go sit in the old VW van that is parked at the entrance of the town, this place was a hippie hangout in the sixties… this is a relic of that time. I eat a little more. Close to seven. The two people from that hotel who had told me that there ususally was no one at reception showed up.

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The bus showed up. I get on. I’m so tired. I need to use the washroom so badly… but I can’t so I wait. It’s two hours to Heraklio, I hope to sleep the whole way but the last hour I am dreaming of a washroom,and motion sickness from all the curves in the road wake me up. My body feels like there are ants all over. I recognize some places out there. We have arrived! But the bus stops up the hill. The hostel is down the hill. I ask the driver… no more stops he says… I have to go down this road. Ah, OK, then. one more walk before bathroom or bed. I walk like a crippled, very slowly. A dog keeps step with me for a block. When I see the fortress, I’ll know where I am… When I get down to the water I realize I am too far west. Nooooo…. I whimper a bit. My feet, legs, back and hips hurt, my shoulders resent the bag so much… I keep going. I make it to the hostel… two nights I take. I will rest!! I pay, up the stairs… get to the room, the door is locked… I have to go back downstairs… the man comes and opens the door and says you have to come and get a bed sheet… OK, one more time down and up the stairs… Ah… closer… I put my things down and finally get to the washroom. OMG… then into bed… OMG…. OMG, OMG. OMG…. I fell fast asleep.