Oh Istanbul

August 7, 2018

 

a18

It was a long, long ride. From Resita, Romania to Istanbul, two buses, the first one coming  in 4 hours late, motion sickness, yahoo driver and passengers, late night border crossing and an arrival in Sofia at 4 AM which meant that my hostel’s reception was closed and that I would not sleep or have the luxury of a shower. 5 hours later, sleepless I boarded the second bus, this time it was a big, pretty comfy ride with driver and assistant, drinks and snacks and some fairly regular toilet stops, as opposed to the 20 seater microbus.

a16

a19

I made it in Istanbul on schedule, at 5 PM. Crossing into Turkey really felt like coming into a different world. Coming from the rural Romania and Bulgaria, Turkey seemed like a country in warp speed development. There is money here and projects and so much energy and dynamism. I was hit strongly by this perception. I wasn’t seeing it like this before, but after being all over the world from Europe, to the USA to Eastern Europe, I got a whole different sense of this place. Given a fair government this place would definitely rule the world. Why? Because of the willingness of its people to work so incredibly hard and the incredibly young demographic chomping at the bit to have a chance for a decent life for them and their families.

a21.jpg
We finally made it to the otogar, this place is worthy of scenes in Clockwork Orange or such science fiction movies. It is a cross between a bazaar, a bus station, a shopping mall, a free for all flea market where you’ll find everything from cell phone credit providers, money exchange, restaurants, clothing stalls, tourist shops, travel agencies, kebap sellers and on and on and on. It’s old, dirty, cracked and worn out yet incredibly vibrant.

I put minutes on my SIM card, got credit on my Istanbul Kart (transit card) and was ready to tackle the city, despite my complete lack of sleep, I felt excited, elated, and strangely, home. I made it directly to Sishane, I went to the little bus stop to see my Queen, this cat I loved so much. Was she still going to be there? Healthy?

The escalator took me outside of the metro station, I looked up and the blueness of the sky made me so happy. I love the skies here, I smiled really widely and took a deep deep breath… I am back.  Then outside, surprise, the road is torn apart, they are repaving all the way up to City Hall. It is bustling, people all around, everywhere, taxis honking their way up the broken road, the Peace sculpture standing there in the sun as always. On the way to the bus stop, I saw that a building I have described before, with its gold material shining strangely in the light, dilapidated windows, standing oddly as it did not fit the neighborhood has been completely renovated. I had wished to do a series of photos of this building before because of the way it shone strangely in certain lights and stood out so much next to the other buildings,  too late now.

I arrived at the bus station, I called: “ pssss, pssss, pssss…”

a26

5 minutes later she arrived! We chatted for a bit, I was so happy, she was a bit disappointed that I didn’t have food for her, but it was so hot she decided to lie down in the grass in front of me. I relaxed, took the whole scene in, watching the buses go endlessly, one of them the 55T which used to take me to Gaziosmanpasa to teach English… the birds flying, the Golden Horn shining in the sun behind me. Wow.

It’s the fourth day now. I slept in a hostel for 3 nights then found a place to stay with a friend. Scott. Scott is one of the best people I know here. So kind, open, up and positive. He is an American who has redesigned his life here in Istanbul. We’ve been here about the same amount of time. He teaches English. I will stay here for 3 weeks. One of those weeks he will go take a vacation and I’ll take care of the cats he is babysitting at the moment. I feel good that I can help with that. It was not my original plan but when he said he had not gone out of Istanbul for so long because of the cats, I knew this feeling too well, one has to exit this city once in a while to stay sane.

a32

I feel tired, good but tired. I wonder if I didn’t leave Romania too soon. I miss the puppies, the garden, Ami and Marti… There was something so out of time there… I felt it was time to go, but I could really have stayed another week.

a04

 

a08

This Workaway thing is like that. You come, you share the life, then somehow it’s time to go, there is always a bit of a feeling that these people are doing so much for you… Then you leave, and you miss them.

At this point I am pondering what I should do with the 3 months I can spend here.  The Workaway is there and available and they are looking really exciting, at the same time I am dying to have a studio a space to work on my own things and then just do that for 3 months. I need to come to a decision; continue this nomadic thing or stop for a while, or stop for good…  I see advantages to all of those, my heart wishes for creativity, my finances spell the necessity to live as frugally as possible.

It is clear that every time I move around, all the questions of my life take a back seat, the work, the needs, the feelings, the dreams, the problems, my reality comes down to the immediate necessities: toilet, food, rest, shower… and each time I stop, it takes a while to return to a sense of continuity. The constant change is great to observe the world, to apprehend it in many different ways. This chance to live in all these different cultures is really awesome. I get to see what I truly need as a human, and many things become unimportant. The baggage gets lighter.

 

As an artist I feel the need to express all this, but it’s not always possible, I express it in a sort of psychic way instead of through an instrument or on paper, but being a physical entity I also need to express things physically. Hence my dream of a workspace. Simple. Calm. Clean. Maybe that is why I continue… continue until I find it.

What an amazing journey. I am blessed. I am grateful.

a11

Advertisements

About to depart

July 31, 2018

 

a84

In less than 12 hours I will have left Bocsa. I made the decision a few days ago. In many ways I wish I could just stay, and in all truth I could stay longer, it always is a big question; stay or go?  When there are deadlines it is easy, all is decided for you.  When you depend on your inner guidance system, it’s another type of knowingness.  I was going to leave last week but the night I decided to go I hurt my back, so that was a definite: “can’t go now” so I postponed for a few days but now it feels like it’s time, well somehow it is never time to leave this place… I will dearly miss Ami and Marti and all the puppies and the cat. The life here is out of time and into its own pace.  We create the reality from our beliefs and what these two have created here is almost a parallel universe that I greatly enjoy.  Ami has been from the first instant like a sister to me, she has been a true angel, to leave her behind is quite difficult, it’s always difficult to leave the people who accept you totally and fully.  But I do feel that, yes, it is time to go, continue on.
My itinerary: August first, I will take a bus from Resitsa, Romania to Sofia, Bulgaria. I will sleep there overnight, enjoy a free breakfast at the hostel and take the 9 AM bus to Istanbul. I chose not to stop and visit Sofia (which I have never been too before) to save money. The Euros go a much longer way in Turkey than they do on the road. It might have been nice to visit Sofia but I can easily come back to Bulgaria in the fall, after the tourist season when I will head north again.  everything will be cheaper and if all goes well, my finances will be stronger. I should arrive in Istanbul late afternoon on the second of August and I have a bed for two nights, after that I will have to see where my fate takes me, by mid month I should head to Yalova for the Workaway.  It will be interesting to see how I feel after being away for 6 months, after have experienced Europe, north America and Eastern Europe, and observe how these different perspective will affect my perception of Istanbul when I experience it anew.

a80
Today I had a counselling session with the firm doing my bankruptcy, one of those compulsory things required by law. I hoped for “counselling” but was a bit on the light side with the usual warnings “don’t buy what you want, buy what you need”. But in a way the session gave me a feeling that I have passed a landmark. That the process of bankruptcy is completed, that I now can close that chapter and advance to the next.
I heard last night that this August is a time to:

-Pay attention to your dreams, the ones you have while sleeping that is.

-Bring back the energies that you gave away, like old relationships, contracts, agreements

-Simplifying, unifying: Like beliefs, if they complicate life, let them go.
All those rang true,  and on all of those, I will spend time observing and learning.

a94

How does a seed feel when it is in the earth and senses the sun heating the earth? How does the seed envision his journey?  How does he relishes in his collaboration with the earth, the solar system, the world of plants and animals it belongs to?

I feel I am a seed in the earth and the early spring sun is starting to caress the earth. Some rain washes down to me in my earthly darkness and I begin to feel the call to expand and grow and can start imagining the blooms I will carry.

Breathe deeply and not worry so much. The plan was laid out a long time ago, my presence here is purposeful even if at times I cannot quite understand what it is. There is a lot of love around me, a lot of allies ready to lend a hand, ready to just be there for me.  To be like the plant, the tree, the bird, the cats… be excited to be born, or reborn in my case, in this time and world and honor this gift of life every moment by being fully in it.

a92

Much love

 

 

my own eclipse

July 28, 2018

a66

 

Write. Write some more. My last post was full of incompleteness; half expressed ideas, typos, and a lack of development for some ideas which lead to vagueness. I realized this after re-reading one or two days later.  I have not been writing much and it seems that writing is like singing, the lack of practice makes the communication somewhat clumsy.

My dear childhood friend Joan said to me:  je vois ton Blog comme un livre, comme un dessin, comme une peinture, comme une sculpture. Tu y ajoute de tes photographies. Avec ton écriture tu construis ton présent et ton future. Ton Blog c’est ton partage avec l’Univers.

Her words underline a thought that is starting to install itself as a modus operandi in my psyche.:  Just create, just be, don’t worry about grades and ratings, the beauty of this world lays in the fact that all of us are creating the most amazing work of art they possibly can:  their own selves. It’s not the best selling albums, the award winning projects or the kick ass job, it is about following one’s heart into a personal journey that one had determined to take.  This thought process is freeing me from the guilt of existing and from the unrelenting obsession to be the best.  (it’s always been “be the best or be a disgrace” for me, the competitive streak that is a scourge in our western world)

I sit here again, in this Romanian home, love birds singing endlessly, dogs barking endlessly, the sound of a saw in the distance, a car rolls by… my laptop hums and the keys click.

Last week I hurt my back, yet again. Ami finally convinced me to go to a doctor. I don’t care going to doctors because they just all do the same thing: prescribe anti-inflammatory pills, pain killers and then declare that your condition is impossible to heal. I went just to see, she said he was a different kind of doctor, he’s been taking care of her family since she is a teen. So we drove to Resitsa. On a zig-zagging road through the Romania hills, it’s gorgeous, so totally, fully, absolutely green. As we drove she was pointing at her favorite sights, trees on a hill, gave me bits of her own personal history and some local tidbits.

In 1948 Romania was turned into a communist country. (the revolution came in 1989 to overthrow the regime)  So far the towns I have seen bear the marks of that passage. Small historic areas surrounded by these massive, artless blocs of concrete, built in a hurry around some gargantuan building that is the local industry. Here it is steel. In Resitsa they first got a large contingent of men to work. They were plucked from all around the country then dropped here to these apartments and a job but… no women. The leaders of the time finally realized that things were just not going to work out like that and they built another big building that was to house the women’s workplace: Sewing confections. So the town grew around that over the years. The city is full of architectural incongruities, the communist era buildings make me woozy with discomfort just looking at them.  The coolest sites are the nearly abandoned industrial facilities that look like steampunk creations, rusted or mossed over facilites surrounded by a furiously productive Mother nature.

a71

So in town we stopped at the doctor’s office, we wait for a little bit in the waiting room, they call her name, then some time later they call me. The doctor is a middle aged man, bright, sharp eyes that see you in one go. He speaks some English, Ami serves as a translator for the rest. He gets a blood pressure apparatus and takes my pressure. It has been at least 8 or 9 years since my pressure was taken, it feels odd. Something over 9, I didn’t understand the numbers but he says it is low. It always is low, so no surprise here. Then he asks about my back, I explain and in a few minutes he diagnoses that a disc compresses the nerves when, from time to time, it moves. I had guessed something close to that. He prescribes anti-inflammatory medication, pain killer and declares that there is no hope in improving that. Sounds familiar. But he’s a really kind person. I am glad to have met him. We are sent on our way to the pharmacy with a shopping list of pills; Anti-inflammatory pills, pills to calm the stomach from the pills for the pain, pills for calming the liver and vitamin B.

We drive back and visit more of the town. It goes from industrial to green. We pass a group of workers up in a park, they are redoing the road, I counted 13 of them and of all of them, 1 was working, another had his shirt up an immense beer belly, they were all aligned side by side, chatting seemingly having a great time. Back in town I meet Ami’s mom and grand mother.  Her grand mother is bright and sharp.  She strongly disapproves of my tattoo:  how could I mar the work of art my mother made when she gave birth to me!  When Ami explains that the tattoo’s design comes from my deep passion for horses, she revises her opinion and says it’s OK.  Before leaving I felt compelled to give her a pine cone from California I had been carrying in my bag since June.  She was asking about the Sequoias, she loves trees and plants and nature.  She asked how long it took to cross the continents, she really liked the 14 hour idea, as if it gave the cone even more value.

 

a74

Back at the table here, I am encircled by notebooks, papers filled with lists, numbers and dreams.  I am at ground zero.

Recently I filed for bankruptcy.  Last January was when I realized how deeply in trouble I was. It came slowly and I did not see it coming. I started to cognate on how it happened in June after I talked to a friend in California, she told me how she almost died because she had been bleeding pools of blood daily. As she recounted the when, how, why I was shocked to see that I suffered in parallel something similar to her except that I was bleeding  heavily for almost a year, but not as much as her, so I did not end up in critical care at he ER. Her words were like mirrors where her condition mirrored my own, I recognized that I had slowly entered and coursed along a kind of tunnel where I became weaker and weaker continually, getting more overwhelmed and unable to do much more than crawling along, going for coffee and vaguely hoping for an epiphany of some sort that would get me out of this torpor.

The daily loss of blood stopped somewhere in late 2017.  Following that, my strength started to increase. It feels now that I am just getting to be “normal” I still find it hard to put in 8 hour days but it is improving gradually. I give myself shots of B12 that I started doing on the urgings of a crazy 92 year old pharmacist I met at Kripps pharmacy in Vancouver.  He decreed after looking in my eyes and face that I needed those shots and right there on the spot he had me pull my pants down and he demonstrated how to self administer the injections.

I was finally able to connect the dots in retrospect.  I then understood what took place, I saw how my increasing weakness led to my finances discombobulating and how I found myself where I am today: bankrupt.

But don’t go feel sorry for me. I do believe that all happens for a reason, a purpose. Like the way this pharmacist appeared, other angels or agents of change appeared and helped and guided me. Finding myself in this position now allows me the opportunity to experience yet another incarnation within this lifetime. I have been confused, scared, freaked out, slightly giddy from the height of the uncertainty more than once for the last while. Thinking of how I achieved all that I have achieved in my life, the albums, the awards, the successes, the business, the motorcycle journey, etc, etc. to then observe the fact that I could not make the simplest decision for the most mundane things. How I could be so blind to my own circumstance is stupefying.

So now what?

I keep asking that question over and over. What do I want? Whaaat doooo iiiii want?  What DO I want? I am 54, homeless, jobless, just barely in health to do something, bankrupt. I have a ton of skills but I am not so sharp with them right now. My computer skills are 8 years behind, my ability to work long hours is not there yet, my music skills feel irrelevant and are very rusty, I feel great about my art skills, I see that there are many opportunities to expand and grow but it is all pretty much but a spark in my mind now. I’ve been contemplating, pondering, questioning and maybe one thing is clear.  I need a space to focus, a place to heal and work at the same time.

I want a work space, and some time. Gee I feel guilty just writing that.  I want time to study to upgrade some skills, time to prepare a portfolio, time to finish the few jobs I have for the 2 clients I have. Then I need peace, to be able to focus and bear down. I need to make a strategy for myself that I can execute step by step so I extricate myself out of this hole and make enough income to graduate into a sort of “chez-moi”, a home where I would be able to afford to care for myself to the point where I am strong enough to let out all the creative ideas I have brewing inside.

a50

At the very moment, getting an apartment is not an option, but I am hoping that in the next 4 weeks I can find something temporary to get to my “phase 1: Rising above zero altitude” plan and following that, entering “phase 2: Catch the air under the wings” where I would actually be in flight, heading somewhere, implementing my creative vision.

Don’t feel bad or sorry, send me a virtual high five, good thoughts, prayer or anything that would send some light my way.

Life is extraordinary.

 

Thoughtful in Romania

July 24, 2018

a58

Tuesday July 24th. I have been a nomad for 10 months, I mean by that that I have not had my own home since September 2017.  In September 2017 I gave up my room in Kasimpasa, gave up my bed and all unnecessary things to fit my life into a backpack and head out into the world.  At first it was going to be a vacation, but then I crossed the Atlantic to Canada, returned to Istanbul to move to Ayvalik for a few months, then I camped in Istanbul for 2 months, then it was France, Italy, Czech Republic, Romania, USA, Poland and Romania again and in between all this passing through a long list of countries and cities.

I now sit in Romania, in a fairly dark room at the front of Ami’s house, in a village called Bocsa. It is quiet, peaceful, I hear birds, dogs, a tractor go by, a chain saw in the distance, the daily train with its wistful whistle.  I am surrounded by a cat, 3 dogs and a litter of puppies, with me are two other Workawayers, one from Russia the other from America and of course Ami and Marti.  The life is idyllic.  No rush, no stress, much much love and caring.

I have been wanting to write for a while but held myself back because In 24 days, on August 17th a long awaited answer will come. I felt I had to stay silent until then but I decided to compromise and be silent about some things and speak about others.

In California Pat told me that he thought I should continue writing this blog, others did too. I have been ambivalent about it, wondering the value of writing all these personal things on a completely public platform. Nowadays there are a plethora of writers who have so much to say about everything and anything and so much of it just a self centered light on oneself.  Is it necessary?  Like my music, again, ambivalence, yet people tell me it is good for them, that it has value, my music like the blog at times feel to me as  such a selfish sort of activity.

Lately I have been reading Jane Roberts’ books, more specifically the Seth books. In those I have found fundamentally different point of view on our existence here in this dimension, as humans on this earth. What if all was absolutely perfect, down to the oil spills and the tyrants? What if my life is not some random accident of a faile contraceptive process and that all was meant to be? What if all of us are not accidents? What if we all chose to be here to experience our glorious journeys?

In those books, (the nature of reality, the magical way, the nature of mass events) the describes the multidimentional reality of human life, the immense power we have, the two “frameworks” from which we exist and create into this world, the 3 dimensional life, living reality that we know and the inner dimension where the intelligence of the cells, the body, its connection to the intellect and to the world and the universe and other dimensions of live where we lead parallel lives, experiences.  The multitudinous layers of the self, the soul.

Our thoughts create reality. we’ve all heard this and we say we believe in them, but we keep following and reacting to our beliefs without questioning them, we sometimes fight bitterly for them instead of really looking at them. The way many of us accept and surround their lives with “news” “information” that carry so much negative and violent, hopeless data without realizing that these will inhabit the mind and color all thoughts, hence continually re-create their reality.

In my nomadic life, I decided not to focus on the news. Partly that decision came after reading Emile Zola’s 20 tomes of the Rougon Macquart family. In there he describes over a few generations the life of a family.  We follow the different characters, rich, poor, doctors, farmers, politicians, business owners, etc.  all through the 19th Century. One of my big light bulb moment was that I was reading about the exact same problems we complain about today with the exact same words.  Nothing has changed but the clothing and the technology. Why? I think it is because our culture is basically the same.  We accept the same philosophies, expect the same results, complain about the same problems and never stop to observe and change our societal process.  We react to things with the same types of violence, reproduce the same inequalities and then we say “that’s just the way it is” denying the immense power of creation and ability innate to the human race stuck between dogmatic religious ideas and rigid narrow minded scientific dogma that leaves any “un-provables” out of the equation.

I see in my own life, I see these kinds of patterns where I have not been able to observe, understand and consciously make a decision of change, where accepted cultural habits and mores direct my thoughts and actions with automaticity. I also observe that where I decide to change, change occurs.

from this nomadic standpoint, I cannot hold on to much of anything that will fit in my backpack.  Neither can I hold on to too many cultural ideologies as I cross a full landscape of countries and cultures.  I have to adapt.  That allows me to be more detached from the materiality of life. One of the first things I had to let go of was fear. Hypnotized by fear I am sure to fail, to let myself down.  Following that, I have to let go of  the concepts of being weak or lesser or not good enough, again, if I think that way, it’s an instant plunge into a whirlpool of insecurity where there are no options.

From that same nomadic standpoint what becomes also unavoidable is that joy of being appreciative of the beauty, the excitement of being alive in the very moment.  The taste of food, the feeling of a good bed or a hot shower. The goodness of people, the perfection of the happenstance of the moments that unfurl one after another.

When I rode my motorcycle, into this solo meditative bliss, I became really good at being at peace with everything. It was when I came back to live a ‘normal’ life with people that I was deeply challenged.  How to live with people?  It was very difficult, I ran into all sorts of reactions and situations, from lust to anger, to desire, envy, all sorts of behaviors that felt suddenly so alien and incomprehensible. I fought, ran away, cried and raged and ran the gamut of human misemotions, trying to deal with this.

Realizing one’s native spiritual power allows one to witness the impact one’s decisions making power on one’s environment.  To absorb the full 360 degree meaning of the Law of Attraction, Thoughts Become Things, and Your Thoughts Create Your Reality.  That means not just of the conscious wishes of material rewards like “I want a new car” but to understand that every thought, from your daily complaints to your usual expectations about life, to the automaticisms built-in  by culture and education, to the unconscious suggestions left by media, movies, books, music and on and on.  The reality we live in is the construct of all the members of its society and we are part builder in there.  The dreams then become tools of change, very powerful tools of change if we allow them to exist.
Very soon I will be heading south, to Turkey, at the moment I plan to stay 3 months, the allowed number of days with my passport. The Turkish residence permit rules are being changed again, I am not sure that I can repeat the process I used before; a touristic purposes residence permit. They say now that you should attain your touristic goals within a year (!) I do see their point! I have already found 3 Workaway hosts: an organic farm in Yalova, an artist studio-shop in Kas and a small horse farm near Antalya, all places I wanted to discover. At the moment I am working at organizing them over the 3 months period.  I will also spend some time in Istanbul , there are friends I really want to see and things I still wish to discover.

I am dreaming of a work space, a well lit studio where I could create, I see the white walls and the big windows, something small, simple, with a tiny cooking space and bathroom not far from nature, ideally right in the middle of it!  I don’t know where that space is yet. But I trust it will appear when the time is right and I will know that I have arrived.

Much love.

a42

Months went by

June 18, 2018

c71

The beautiful lake in Tymakov.

 

I have not been writing.  Yeah I am guilty of that.  I sit right now on a bus heading to Poland.  I have been in transit since Monday the 11th.  Where to start?  If I look at the last post, it was from the Czech Republic.  I crossed the world and back since then.  I guess I’ll go back in time and try to get updated…

c30

spring plantings in Tymakov

 

I spent almost a full month in Tymakov, I wanted to stay more but I saw that my Schengen 90 days visa is coming to a close, so I started to look at my options.  Non-Schengen European countries were the obvious choice, I went on Workaway and decided to try for Romania, I wrote to 6 project’s hosts on there and got an immediate response from Ami.  We clicked right away and it was decided that I’d go there in early may.  Then out of the blue I found a cheap ticket to California and decided to go see my friends after a 4 year absence.

D10

Pavel and Pavlina at Living Whale.

 

So it was with tears in my eyes that I left the village with Pavel and Pavelina.  It’s still always hard to leave, no matter where you leave from.  I got on a bus to Pilsen, had a last look to the beautiful villages and nature, then got on a Flix bus to Prague to spend the day then get on yet another bus which would take me to Timişoara in Romania.

Prague… so beautiful.

b35

I got on the bus, it was a 22 hour drive and it was exhausting.  I woke up seeing Communist era buildings in Hungary that curled my blood, the artless, only for practicality architecture is just not my thing…

In Timişoara Ami and Marty came to pick me up, after a night there we headed to Bocsa where they live; we arrived at a beautiful old house with a gorgeous garden.  My first task there was to help clean a big room that had become a storage place so that we could make a studio space out of it.  My stay there was so quiet, filled with conversations on all topics.  But it was short, about two weeks later I made my way up towards Brussels from where I would fly to America.

dd94

Ami and Marti, the day of our mushroom hunt

 

A03

Tiki.

 

I took a bus to the frontier, because of disputes no bus company offers the route all the way into Bosnia.  I had to hitchhike from the last city into Bosnia.  A really fancy black Audi stopped.  The man seemed iffy to me but I go in.  He did not speak English. I had the clear feeling that he was hoping for some sort of gimmick on my part.  Arriving at the border, he took my passport to give to the customs officer.  as soon as we entered Bosnia he pulled over and asked me to get out.  It was strange, but I did not really care, per chance, a bus station was just a few hundred feet away and I found a bus heading to Belgrade, my destination, it was to leave in a few minutes, I just had time to get a ticket and hop on.

a28

Walking towards Moravita in Romania.

 

Belgrade was beautiful.  I stayed 3 days then headed to Budapest where  I spent 3 nights.  then it was time to head to Brussels.  I arrived late at night, then later still at the hostel I had booked.  I was exhausted, it was 1:30 AM and I had been traveling since 8 that morning.  At the hostel I was to find the key in a box, I had to enter the 4 first digits of my credit card.  It did not work.  There was no one at the reception, I rang the bell and finally I called the emergency number I saw by the door.  To make this short, lets say that the guy soon was yelling at me on the phone, would not let me place a word and he had to let me know that he had been in business for 15 years and that his system worked.  It was a no communication exchange and I finally started to raise my voice out of frustration as I could not say anything without being cut off and ridiculed.  “If you are to have attitude I am not going to help you” he retorted to my rise in volume.  I tried to calm down… “I’ll be here in 10 minutes” he said.

a66

in a park in Budapest.

 

Pretty much 30 minutes later he showed up.  He quickly proceeded to yell at me blaming me for leaving his 2-year-old son alone at home… again there was no way to place one word.  He went in and got the invoice for my booking.  “LOOK!  LOOK!!!” He kept yelling at me… I looked indeed and that is when I realized my mistake; I had used my debit card number… not the credit card.  I was dumbfounded, embarrassed and all the rest of it.  I apologized, he kept yelling, I apologized again, he kept yelling some more.  Then he said: ” You could apologize at least!!”
“I did, I did twice.”  I knelt down on one knee and said “Here, what else do you want?  I am truly sorry.  I made a mistake, in 15 years in business you never had anyone make a mistake?!  I am truly sorry.”  He yelled some more and left.  I was in shock.  I don’t do so well with yelling, I felt as if every nerve in my body was lifting my skin and giving me electric shocks.  I went to the dormitory almost crying.

a69

landing in Reykjavic.

 

Next morning I was en route to Los Angeles, we had a short stop in Iceland then arrived in the late afternoon.  From there I had many visits, conversations with friends.  Reconnected with Forrest, Mona, Hector.  Every visit would leave me kind of reeling with very strong emotions and my heart seemed to be emanating a strong vortex like energy, it was incredibly intense.

a70

Arriving in LA at sunset.

a week later I was on my way to Felton, near Santa Cruz and the Redwoods.  I spent a week there with Seraphim.  I got to see my bike, which brought me to tears.  I rode as passenger and went to see the Pacific.  At first I was almost scared on the bike, everything seeming too intense, the noise, the wind, the weight of the helmet, then on the way back from the ocean, a flood of riding memories engulfed me and I was half way between pure joy and wistfulness.  In Felton I also played my first concert in 18 months.  I was nervous at the start but it subsided and I had a wonderful time.

a76

Forrest and Mona

b46

first concert in 1.5 year in Felton

 

b09

coastal fog in the forest

b17 - Copy

the giant redwoods.

 

After the time there, I went back to LA.  I stayed with Aaron and Sally in Upland.  There I was able to rest, catch up some work and see so many friends.  Kimberly, Crystal, the Klatch, Liz, Pat, Rye,    What a joy…  That was also when they both offered me their house to play another concert.  I had been toying the idea of playing at the Klatch but this was more organic and the Klatch had not answered me so I gladly accepted the offer.  we settled on the upcoming date of June 10th, the day before my departure.
I left Aaron’s and Sally’s home to get back to LA.  I had planned a nice journey with bus rides, but this ended up in a 9 hour slow marathon where I walked at least 6 miles with my backpacks, in the broiling sun.  From Upland to San Dimas took 5 and a half hours, it was nuts.   I stopped at the Klatch there to rest before continuing on.  There I saw my Iranian friend who seeing me so worn out left then came back with a bag of food and drink telling me that in Iran he would have invited me home to feed me and help me rest but since he could not he brought me this food.  it was amazingly generous and beautiful  I continued on my way to finally arrive at Hector’s place 9 and a half hours later.  Exhausted.  The train and bus situation in Los Angeles is beyond pitiful.

a81

bird and sunset on the way to Felton

 

a77

the loser cruiser, 3 hours late but got us there eventually.

I continued my visits, Stayed with Mona, Hector, Sarah.  Played the concert on the last Sunday of my visit, June 10th at Aaron’s and Sally.  There magic happened as we reunited new and old friends.  I was expecting to play solo but Forrest, kind and brave heart that he is drove all the way from LAX and joined me, Mona showed up with her Trumpet and Marguerite also joined us.  Seraphim drove all the way from Felton with his Go guitar, so I had the familiar instrument in my hands.  When all was done, we were outside on the street and I had this incredibly strong feeling that we are a tribe, I was reminded that I had this feeling before in California… With Forrest it was as if we’d never skipped a day, we were immediately in synch, Mona, the wild spirited, true soul joined the music with much feeling and emotion in her playing.  Marguerite was a new element, playing percussion, she added a beautiful layer of musical lace around the songs.  We all hugged on the street and I was overcome with tears.  My family, my friends… Knowing I was leaving the next day.

a28

with Mona in Joshua Tree National park

a94

Three friends, Seraphim, Sarah and Hector

a76

Joshua Tree sunset

b09

beach in LA

The next day with Marguerite’s generous help I made my final preparations and headed to LAX for my flight.  Next stop:  Reykjavic for 19 hours.  I must make a parenthesis here:  Wow Air.  I would not recommend Wow air.  They make it look really attractive:  my original flight from Brussels to LA was listed at $165 dollars.  But then it adds up.  They make you pay for a carry on bag.  The size of that carry on is ridiculously small.  If you ever fly with them, consider that if you have anything bigger than a normal day backpack you will have to pay for the carry on fee.  When you buy this at the counter it is 60 Euros.  If you will bring a check in luggage the cost up front is 70 Euros.  If you pay for check in baggage at the counter I think it is around $100.  They have these long stop overs in Iceland, that can be cool but if you are on a budget now you must count a $50 two-way shuttle from the airport to the city.  (you are not allowed to stay in the airport overnight) Then you will likely either drink all night or get a room which will be likely another 30 to 50 euros.  In the end, with luggage, my total for the flight was the same I would have paid if I had taken the Cheapoair low price and I could have brought back silly things like peanut butter in a checked in suitcase for example.  Now I could not even bring anything of that nature because of airport security and because my bags had to be pretty much empty.  We live, we learn.  I think overall the best transporter so far was Norwegian air, their fleet is superlative with the redesigned ventilation, seating and lighting.  The Wow air planes’ ventilation was horrible, the seats uncomfortable and the constant running up and down the aisle of the Barbie like flight attendants just selling anything at overpriced rates was not the greatest.

b20

Sunset in Reykjavik
But in Reykjavík I went. I was burned out tired with the overnight flight, but when I stepped on the streets of the city I was revived.  it was about 10 degrees Celsius, I was wearing my California sandals, but somehow I did not feel the cold.  I walked around as much as I could, to take in the sights.  At this time of year there is virtually no night-time.  the sunset was mind-blowing and the spirit of the place was incredibly strong.  I really wish to come back and go inland.  I am hoping to organize a Workaway there for at least a month so I could really get to discover this land.

b25

the modern cathedral in Reykjavic
I slept until 2:30 AM then headed out for my shuttle bus back to the airport where I flew to Brussels.  Again I was out of my mind tired.  I got on the 272 express and was amazed to see the bus filled mostly by a gaggle of noisy happy Turkish teens.  It felt like I was in Istanbul.  I had no idea there were so many Turks in Brussels.  I went to the Train Hostel, a hostel where some of the rooms are made with old sleeping cabins from a whole train wagon.  I didn’t see much of Brussels, I only went for some food in a mall that was close and tried to rest.  At 4 AM I had to get back to the airport for my flight to Berlin.  The skies were dark, the streets deserted.  The greenness of summer all around along with the birds singing.  It was quite beautiful.

At the airport all went well.  I arrived in Berlin and then waited for the bus that would take me to Poznan in Poland where I am now.

IMG_20180609_200607.jpg

a night with friends I will never forget.

Clay, life

April 9, 2018

b28

Pink Floyd plays, a fire roars in the big old fashioned stove, a single light bulb shines in the center of the room. Deep breath. I am alone tonight. My hosts went out, I took a bath, washed my clothes, now there is the night quiet in Tymakov, the Czech village where I am living right now.

One of the reasons for deciding to go on this journey was that I could not afford to pay rent. I am at this very moment down to ground zero. Right now I am a seed.

Looking back,  I see that in 1989 I was also a seed arriving in Vancouver, a blooming plant grew from that seed and produced many fruits. I became Danielle the singer songwriter, recording artist, a translator-producer, an entrepreneur, I married, I worked hard and made good money. Good fruits they were.

But fruits fall to the ground and become food and shelter for the seeds, All that grows eventually yellows, grays and collapses to the ground. Of this glorious plant was, left as the cycle demands,  the seed. The dandelion seed pushed by the winds made a likely metaphor for my life.

b16

So in this little Czech village tonight I am having a moment to myself.  A few days ago Pavel showed me clay that he pulled out of a stack of big plastic bags. This “white” clay, as he called it, is a special vintage that was dug out of the Czech earth, where a sea existed many eons ago. I had this clay on my mind ever since he showed me. Saturday morning I asked about the plans for the day, he said: No plan, today off. I immediately decided to do something with this clay. I had no idea what I was going to do. I was too much in a hurry to put my hands in the stuff  and didn’t want to delay this moment in order to find material to build an armature, I just put my hands in the cool, damp stuff and started shaping it.

I sat outside on a blue stool, in front of a rough old table, the sun shining brilliantly on the land, the birds filling the air with their sounds and trills, there are so many song birds here, I love, love, love them… one pot with water a handful of wooden tools and this hunk of clay. It was the finest atelier one could ever dream of. What a freedom, what a quiet, profound joy. Around me, the many friends of my hosts are coming by, always bringing a small present of some homemade sort, a strudel, water from a mineral water well, or IT help. The men went to turn the earth in the back field, for a garden to come. Pavlina cooked lunch, Peter was fixing appliances, everyone contributing their skills at Living Whale.

b19

So destitute as I am on paper, I am living this life of plenitude.

I’ve been here 2 weeks now, I’ve come to know some of the friends, the place, the poetry of these people. So quickly, I inserted myself into this life, and so quickly I will disappear from it. Since I’ve been here I have been given so many gifts, my host is so perceptive, first it was a guitar that appeared, then I had the chance to try a pottery wheel, visit some sculptures on a couple of outdoor sites, then after wasting my ink supply, a bottle of blue ink from the communist era appeared, they tell me it dates back from the 80’s and had been waiting for me ever since. ( I am practicing the calligraphy I learned in Oleron with it) Then it was this clay, the space, and this immense kindness.

I could be tempted to worry about leaving this place, tempted to feel sorry about letting go of this little paradise, but this is that lesson again: impermanence. Life is vast, abundant, magical.

b22

I ended up making a horse, of course. The absence of armature meant that I had to devise something solid for the legs to support the form. I will make another one soon, this time I will experiment with sticks, Pavel who is a clay artist told me about this technique, using tiny sticks which will burn when put in the kiln. (yes after I leave and the pieces will have dried they will fire them)

I am here for now. Each day a new day. Each day like the last, each day like the first. Facing me, trying to love me, giving, helping as much as I can. I hope I can repay a bit what magnificent gifts they are bestowing upon me.

 

a95

Czech Republic, hello!

April 5, 2018

d35my work inspired by l’Ile d’Oléron

 

After finishing my work I left Oléron.  My heart stays full of this place, it was absolutely magical and I have a longing for it in my heart.  I hope I can return one day.  I did indeed succeeded in making this big journey I talked about in the last post: going from Oléron to the Czech Republic. I crossed France hitchhiking via Bordeaux, Nérac, Carcassonne, Nice all hitchhiking except for one bit between Aix en Provence and Nice that I did via BlaBlaCar.  It was amazing.  I got to see friends all the way through and managed to make new friends on the road.

c87 The Atlantic shore, next stop: Québec…

d46
Nérac

 
d66Carcassonne

In Italy I took the train, as opposed to France, the trains there are really affordable and easy, I would look forward in the future to traveling the country that way.  I was told that hitchhiking sucks in Italy so I did not even try.  Torino was great, I got to see my friend Antonio and met the Gypsy Marionettist, drank awesome coffee and really loved it until Milano where things kind of got sour between the train station and my seat to Berlin on a RyanAir jet.  Lets just say this:  if you go to a cafe in Milan 1. ask for the price before you sit or you may be charged for the air you breathe, 2. if the web site says it is a ticketless shuttle to the airport, print your ticket anyways.  3. if you fly Ryan Air PRINT YOUR BOARDING PASS.  4. If you are carrying art supplies… well, … don`t carry art supplies on RyanAir.  I`ll just add that for me RyanAir is now RyanNightmare.  Enough said.

d91
the Gypsy Marionnetist

d96
Torino

d97
Milano

In Berlin it is the sweet Rebecca that I got to see again.  We knew each other from the Chillout days.  It was really cool, but it was very short, two nights and I was on my way to Poznan, Poland, then to Wroclaw for a very short overnight stop, then a quick stop in Prague where I just switched busses and was on my way.  I really wish to see this city in the future as it looks absolutely amazing. I arrived around 8 PM in Plzen (Pilsen) where my Workaway host picked me up.

d98
Wroclaw

A06
Preparing for the Sweat Lodge on full moon night

Workaway.  I talked about it before: a website that connects travelers and hosts for work projects.  The travelers in exchange for their work get food and bed.  There is everything on the website, from labor camp to babysitting to bio-agriculture to language teaching, to art projects, etc, etc.  My beginning here were a bit tough, mainly because I have been a city girl for the last 5 years and have not done much exercise, let alone outdoor work so all the muscles involved in  things other than writing, talking, sleeping, sitting, playing guitar or drawing have been inactive… so piling wood and hauling bricks an building a wall felt like the Gulag to these hibernating muscles.
Thankfully the Easter weekend provided a much needed rest.  Also, we had a native indian inspired sweat lodge on the full moon (Saturday night) and that really helped in healing.

But don`t get me wrong, I am not complaining at all.  I realize that these Workaway experiences go beyond just showing up and meeting cool people.  As with most things in life, there are no accidents and I am now seeing that each experience helps me face an aspect of myself that needs facing.  So if something is very intense, I just reach in and try to confront it so that I can learn and heal.  It is a cliché but there are no accidents, especially if you do things mindfully, your choices will guide you to where you should be. Just traveling around superficially can be a sort of cool escape.  But being somewhere as a stranger with strangers, with all the challenges that come with not knowing a language, with the need to just surrender to whatever happens and trust the outcome, to be patient if you don`t understand, to be strong enough to overcome your fears and doubts.  It is really an amazing school if you allow it.  There is of course there is the bonus advantage like seeing new horizons, new cultures, be amazed by people and their visions and creations, make new friends and live unique, special moments on the other side of the globe.  It is totally inspiring.

And speaking of inspiration I feel it rise in me.  It had been a while since I have felt that kind of spark.

A07

So there you go, I will not go into it too deep for now.  The images will have to do until next time.

All my love.