Destination God: The Aegean Part 2

January 22, 2014

My journey here wasn’t over yet. Having departed soon after I got confirmation of an invitation from friends in Greece to work at their house, people whom I met on my bike journey last year, on the way down the mountain I hitched up with Emin again and stayed in the small village beneath the plateau, one of three by the names of Belen, Haykiran, and Hasinlar. It was now Bahram, the end of Ramadan when everybody takes three days off. I became an instant hit with the kids, getting to know the old men playing at taula (backgammon) and also. At the main festival dance I studied their methods, joined in, made loads of Facebook friends, was a special guest at Ahmet’s house, and ate good food. I am different, not a tourist but a traveller. Ahmet in particular showed me some special moves on the dance floor. I looked around for a potential wife and didn’t know where to start. But before I left the town completely I had spent one day with Emin’s whole family. Up on the mountain where the goats drink from are pools of water. When they told me they were going fishing I didn’t quite understand. In a pool of water about 80ft by 40ft they were pulling out carp up to 2 kilos in weight. In less than one hour they had about 8 kilos of edible fish simply from throwing nets into the water. Emin’s brothers, Mehmet, Nazif and Ibrahim had suddenly become my family. We grilled some of the fish on an open fire and ate to our hearts content, in the meanwhile I rode their own donkey around the plateau. On succeeding days I discovered a rock just beneath the surface of the pool and would sit on it to meditate, watching swallows catch flies. Emin had a wife and two kids and wanted me to stay on for his son’s circumcision. Alas, time catches up with one, but those experiences on the mountain are ones that cannot be matched easily; it is full living and no tourist can appreciate it.

 

Not everything was hunky dory though, apparently after sensing that the villagers were attempting to control my movements it turns out that I had been scaring some of the kids, but this evaporated soon afterward, and maybe stuff was put about by some faggots who tried it on. Ahmet had got me on my way to Menemen and paid for my ticket to Ayvalik. A busy seaside fishing town I took a dip, picked loads of fresh figs, an quickly scootered through the shopping areas. There, I took the boat to Lesvos, so named for its only Lesbian poet Sappho, the third biggest Greek island. I wondered what beauties it had in store. Fate was on my side for I caught the last ferry with just 5 minutes to spare.

 

The scenery flattered me, and so did the relatively cheap ticket. Having arrived in the capital Mytilini quite late I did what I do best; meet dogs. I walked around the town a little and climbed a hill. Atop this particular one was a castle; the views were nice. Halfway through the night I had aroused the attention of the dogs; it seems I had psychically tuned into their territory and found myself in the same location where they sleep - I am used to it by the way. In the morning I traversed around the top and came face on with a military soldier who advised that I could not sleep on this hill. The rest of the day was spent swimming and taking in the town; already I was getting bored. My ferry to Kavala in Greece was two days away, so I decided to break the pattern; I just jumped on a bus to anywhere, too sleepy to take in the spectacular scenery. When I got to Kalloni it was approaching night. Nevertheless, I hung about outside a cafeteria and played music, surrounding myself with loads of kids. I was an instant hit and the cafe owners decided to take me down to the beach (Skala) where I located another cafeteria. This is where I met Yorgios, eventually playing my music there ‘til I dropped. He had persuaded me in the meantime to stay on the island until the next boat, having been a travel agent himself before selling up the business. At 4am he woke me up and said I could stay at his hotel for free. Yorgios was in love with his country and he wanted me to appreciate it just as well. Serving the best savoury wrap I stumbled off to the hotel room and slept like a log. Late the following morning I admired the technicality of an air conditioning system that gave one instant control of their bedroom temperature.

Over the ensuing days I moved back and forth between different villages. It took me a couple of days to suss out the bike hire place, and no sooner had I began riding my sleepiness faded away and I was back to my best taking in the air and stunning visual scenery; it is the only way. Kalloni is a quaint little village with long sandy beaches and enough entertainment for the depleting numbers of tourists; Yorgios tells me that this year has been very bad and that the next 20 days is important for him, and for everybody else here probably. The tourist industry is like that, it happens in waves. Hence one can notice empty beach fronts where former owners have huddle closer together. The signs were also in Mytlini, reminding me of Zagreb where once former grand lodges were beginning to get decrepit and needed a lick of paint. Relative to many Greek tourist recession-hit areas these towns still had much more to offer and were being bolstered by a rich élite. Contrary to this I decided to visit a few monasteries along the way. Having made an understanding with Yorgios concerning my free stay at his hotel, although I barely used any of its facilities, I decided to take the dog out for a long walk. Not achieving my objective because of an unfit dog who would go no further, I headed for Limona monastery the same night and slept there within a chapel. In the morning I looked around and saw the vestiges of its once former glory. More dilapidated than anything else on the island it had a charm about it that spoke volumes, almost giving it an untouchability. Many of the cells were vacant but the monastery itself had a single monk seated in its courtyard, lined with figs, walnuts and grapes. Old potted plants cracked in the dry heat, and cobbled paving twisted in centuries-old movement. Even the tourist cafeteria was conspicuously empty. The dark interior illumined by the majestic array of icons, the antique pews in worn-out wood, the serenity of time is even more appealing.

 

Even with this basic bike I could traverse the mountain ranges although I would not recommend it to the unfit unless accompanied. The scenery though, is worth the while. The east is very green through the cultivation of olives but as one moves west so the rock becomes more volcanic. Great ashen sprays have very little vegetation or soil to it, but the welcoming feeling of its small villages and squares invites one in to Greek coffee away from the intense heat. My second night’s sleep under the stars would be the monastery Perivolis. I forsook the town since it was getting dark. The decision was another brilliant one for it took me to a cistern where I bathed, and then the company of two cats who helped eat down some free food given to me by a sympathetic habitant. Judging by the size of these houses unless one screws their eyes it is difficult to see who is suffering from the economic downfall; everybody looks quite happy. This monastery was closed but I enjoyed myself to fresh walnuts. Along the route of my next destination I gulped down bunches of grapes and some of the most delicious figs. The island is strewn with them, too much to harvest in totality. There were also hazels for the picking, and in a couple of weeks the pomegranates should be ripening. Not as diverse as say, the Kadisha Valley in Lebanon, the garden culture of this island is quite simply dazzling, and edible at it.

My next stop was the petrified forest; 2o million years ago this island was covered in ash, which makes for fertility. The remains of a number of tree trunks, fossilized and mainly upright, present an eerie picture from the distance. Having no camera and with a dead mobile phone, all these images will remain as experiences, and unfortunately I cannot share them with you. Incidentally though, feeling like I had lost the chains of culture, I demanded my rambling rights to traverse the natural landscape of petrified wood. Of course the response is that everybody pays to see it. Not giving up I tried to explain the difference between natural rites of passage and legal rights, and they caved in; only then I promised to make a donation. Funnily enough, the ticket indicated free admission even though they were charging 2 Euros entrance; maybe there are two sets of tickets.

 

From here onwards it was mainly downhill. I eventually got to Sigri, the perfect setting for tourists who do not want the fuss of many people. The natural history museum is also located here. It was night time now and I had the choice to escape to Eressos, some 16km down a dirt track. As the name suggests it is a hive for beach lovers and families, attracting a huge majority of the tourist population. With its spectacular scenery including rock islands that one can swim to, camping areas on the beach, and a multitude of restaurants and artist dens, it certainly lives up to it affable qualities. I found it too much the first time round when I took a bus here, but this time after a moonlight night ride over a mountain I was in exalted spirits and listened to trance dance all night long. I soon got out before the tourists woke up and would probably enjoy the best part of the island. I went up to the lovely village of Agra overlooking a large valley complex, met some of the locals and tried my first glass of ouzo. This went down with a respectable plate of potatoes and meatballs. The locals told me to go to Apothikes. Today, having been up all night, was a perfected state of being. I dozed a little on the way but on reaching this inlet sea called Kolpos Kallonis the tranquillity was just breathtaking. A long swim was followed by a moderately easy ride along the coast back to Kalloni passing kilometres of protected wetlands. With a number of rare species I ignored the frequent appearance of lookout towers for the keen enthusiast.

 

Alas, my boat arrives soon and I must head for Alexandropoulis in Greece where my friends await me. As my birth date approaches I make a definite assertion about this island’s demeanour: I wouldn’t trade in one iota of my transcendent lifestyle for the most beautiful woman it could offer me, and I saw a few; the individual has the opportunity to leave that fake lifestyle behind and enjoy instead the history and ecological diversity of the island. Such said, my perfect health is a testament to its beauty, and only occasionally punctuated by my augmented guitar playing.

 

Yorgios with a wink and cat’s smile welcomed me back. His hospitality has been indubitable allowing me freedom to come and go. That night I took his dog for a walk. Having met the family previously and entertaining them with music, they trusted me to take care of it. I remember talking to Yorgios concerning how the health of the dog is related to its integrity; I knew what I meant in my own heart, that the dog needed to be free. As if in anticipation he told me to keep an eye on it even though I thought the dog was quite capable of finding its way about. Yorgios did tell me that he has been nurturing the animal into health after he claimed it in serious physical condition but a year is a long time in a dog’s life. Anyhow, the dog wandered off somewhere and Yorgios blew his top a little; I thought it was an over-reaction but he wasn’t particularly in a good mood that day and looked bored. I knew then that I had overstayed my welcome and prepared to leave the following day. As it goes the ticket he exchanged for me was waiting for my collection at the port so I could have left anytime. Not to be unsociable I took myself away and bought a cake as a parting gift to the staff, came back the following morning and helped clean up the cafeteria. Everyone was back in a good mood and we danced the night away.

 

Yorgios’ life was not unlike my own; ran his own business; works the olive farm of his family; travels around a bit. We had a lot in common, and he reassured me that Lesvos olive oil, with its abundant herbal undergrowth and diversity of altitude makes for the best. Alas, I forgot to bring the bottle he gave to me as a gift; he has invited me back to his farm to help out in spring, and I think I would most certainly take up that offer.

Mytilini offered no more surprises and I was on the boat to Kavala. The only real surprise I had was my lack of funds due to my extended stay on the island. Once I got into Kavala I planned to leave that day. But no sooner had I made up my mind then did I change it when I found out that there was going to be a free full moon concert in Philippi, so named for Philip II who fathered Alexander the Great. Philippi was so named for its strategic importance the king recognised for its location on the Odos Ignatius that ran between Macedonia and Thracia. It prepared the political landscape that Alexander would conquer. Having said that, it was also the beginning of the Roman Empire and the end of its Republican era. Here Crassius and Brutus were defeated by Antonine and Octavian (later Augustus) to claim imperial power over the Roman senate. Its strategic importance continued with the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.

 

I decided then to traverse the hilltop and the castle and that is where I met a hippy by the name of Marcus. An ex-captain of a cruise ship he travelled the world, met many girls and married someone rich. He spends all his days catching fish, looking at the sea in his swim wear and smoking joints. He never leaves his spot, so he tells me; his wife bring gorgeous food to him and he has a party there every day, especially on the full moon. I had to forgo the event that promised to be a great occasion, instead sleeping amongst the ruins of Philippi near the ancient basilica and having a free entry to the rest of the site where the first Pauline Christian church was established in 49-50AD. But in retrospect I discovered that I had truly missed a party full of musicians and girls; what a shame! I took from that encounter something more though, including good food, music and conversation, swimming and canoeing, and a possible return hideout. But I needed to get to my final destination so having taken in the museum and then returning to Kavala I took the bus to Alexandroupolis; I arrived the day before my birth date, the 23rd of August. I just about remembered the old bike route, and as I was drawn to the beach by a couple of guys who called me over. Franz, my host, was with them, awaiting me. We hugged, had a beer, and came up the mountain. The name of this place was called Petrota; how appropriate I thought to symbolize maybe the coming of age, the end of my spiritual quest, the union of male and female. I had entered into the bosom of nature and anything else would be incidental. My hosts, Franz and Erika whom I had met last year on my travels, are just wonderful people, self-fulfilled, having built their own fantastic house, chef extraordinaire, and gardeners. They had guests staying in the spare house, but also their grand-daughter was there with a friend. Without wanting to offend I looked at them and wondered what destiny had in store for me. They were in their twenties and just completing their studies. Now I jostled between becoming a tourist and remaining a traveller. After the most amazing meal, a lovely unexpected gathering, a new dog in the ranks to bring the number up to four, and the cats of course, we sat outdoors viewing the stunning landscape with its valleys and hills dotted with abandoned almond trees, scrub oak and the occasional conifer. The volcanic core of an extinct volcano loomed over us, atop of which is the Agios Georgios. With all these Georges for company I wondered when the dragon would show. The dragon would rear its head, for it is a sure sign that when I have achieved everything in life that is to be achieved, in this case union with Mother Nature under the most idyllic conditions, then it is the end of a cycle; the Great Eight has turned in its entirety.

 

Butterfly perched on a star

So latent from our human sight

Come she will from yonder and afar

To cast forth her puissant light

 

Tiny wings unfolding out

She floats to earth in poignant irony

More cunning than all nature’s eyes

She drops herself from heavens’ skies

 

As if by work of hand of God

Transforms herself from butterfly

Wings grow thrice thousand over

Behold a dragon of immense stature

 

Mouth wide open, flame licked tongue

Thrust words of fire for almighty sake

Wiping clean all before

Paving the way with devastating wake

 

Within his shadow of a darkened world

Hung a hazy interstitial light

With the wide-eyed who remained agazing high

Made Ready.....a portentous sigh

 

That night the girls and I, including the lacklustre dogs, climbed the volcanic remnants of this once-fire breathing beast; Erika informs me that in searching for her dog here she found a chimney in the surrounding landscape that had no bottom to it. Anyhow, the girls were very friendly, in fact I found their nature very competitive. It was not for me to get between them so I remained passive. We viewed the sea in the distance and the rolling hills that led down to it. I didn’t want to talk too much at first but afterward rambled about my journeys in Lebanon, since they have family there. They were Austrian and sometimes I take it for granted that a European will understand everything I say. Having lit candles in the small church nightfall came and we headed down. Sara was very accommodating, again quite loving, and I wondered at this spirit I carried with me. It knows I seek a wife, but it also knows that anything resembling contrivance will be rejected by me. Hence, I could look at this moment as the destiny of a higher spirit, but also as the fabrication of unearthly nature. What I truly seek though, is accident and the unconscious motive.

 

I slept in my hammock wondering if either of the girls would join me for company, even whilst I slept. By the morning I had a natural emission, waking up before the late hour and falling asleep again with my laptop. It was the first time in about two and a half months and for me represented a very high level of spiritual development accorded to my genetic cycles. My beans had been spilled and I knew from personal introspection the loss of that moment to human culture. I went with Franz early that morning to the local village, to the market, and missed the girls. It was now my birthday and I kept it to myself. The following day the girls would leave for Istanbul. I tried to address them later on concerning some metaphysical enquiries about my spirit and what they felt in light of my natural emission, but their mood had changed now; they were mentally preparing to leave. I ended telling Sara that really I can only take a woman who is very highly spiritually developed or a virgin, something untouched my man, and alluded to religion. Since the both were not religious I may have offended them, but I am transparent, and polite at it.

 

After another fantastic meal of meats and vegetables, preserves and wine, Erika’s kitchen is a work of art and deserves only the production of masterpieces; I took myself off to bed again. The following day the guests will be leaving and I would have their home, the one I stayed in last year. There is much to be said here regarding the skills of Franz to build, especially with such a combined artistic and pragmatic approach (what many contemporary permaculture projects lack), but maybe I should let the photos do justice here. Suffice to say there is an astronomer’s tower above an outside toilet, because Erika is a keen astronomer. Everything is finished in marble, stone and wood. The textiles were left to Erika and it seems to be a perfect combination. Those creature comforts I need include a coffee machine, ample storage space, and a view to the sea. It would have been a great place to die if only my genes were not awaiting the construction of my own home. So these days I would be helping out in the garden taking in the diversity of plants, and actually feeling useful since there was ample work to get on with considering the experimentation of its development. The waste water from the houses goes to feed the trees, but there is scope to make a reed-bed filtration system. The trees were too big to relocate so I cut them right down. From the balcony a walnut partners a sweet almond and a quince, the fig with a yucca, and the apricot and peach with cypressus. Elsewhere plums and apples, a few olive trees, a couple of large mulberries, and the rest in ornamentals makes for a beautiful location. The grapes are outdone only by the periwinkle for their prevalence. Undoubtedly the effort in producing this garden was a life achievement, something to aspire to.

 

More superlative meals followed Franz’ fishing skills, hunting octopus with a harpoon. Erika was full of stories, not least the sour wine by the name of Schichler which means ‘cross-eyed’. Apparently they produce the stuff amongst chickens that get drunk on the grapes. We talked about the Greek economy, the mess the country finds itself in, for instance they tell me that the system was so corrupt that one farmer claimed 136 sheep deaths in one night accorded to a wolf attack, yet wolves are nowhere to be seen this close. Apparently he made a deal with an official because under EU rules the farmer could claim €30+ per sheep, a lot more than he could sell it for. The long rides and walks included Maroneia with quite spectacular marble scenery taking me past the Stream of Ulysses, ancient mineral pits and a grape press, an amphitheatre, the acropolis of Ismaros on the crag of Agios Georgios with its Cyclopean walls and monumental gateway, and the natural features that include boulder and volcanic countryside. The rocks that led down to the gorgeous sea were like ramparts to a geological castle. On one occasion I clambered down into the water, navigating a small crevice, swam in the sea and found myself a cave. As I swam under the rocks a quietude set around me and the filtered blue light suffused my environment. I thought I saw the outline of a fossilised sea creature in the cavernous rock as it led up into a dark ominous hole; I couldn’t see within.  Just recently Franz tells me he saw a stingray the size of his dining table beneath him whilst fishing. Other   days were generally broken up occasionally playing guitar, doing the gardening, having a good physical ride on the bike, foraging for nuts and soft fruit, and gardening. But I had hit the bottom of my genetic cycle, and with it my religious vocation had taken a backdrop; I was just not as profound as I can be, just a simple man.

 

Now, if one were to observe the evidence the facts are thus: when there is no mains electricity viz., my caravan in Catalonia, living at ImeceEvi, and travelling, I find perfect health. It does not matter whether I eat loads or nothing, good food (mainly) or fast food, all that changes is the number of times I go to the toilet; what my body wants to keep and what it wants to reject. The other bit of evidence is for the fact that I am healthy when I believe my location is not permanent i.e. randomly travelling around. How this all fits into a scheme of things is much more complicated, involving a social consciousness. For on arriving at Petrota I had a natural emission the first night I was there, which is a sure sign of my disrupted health i.e. Irritable Bowel Syndrome; I drop below my natural immune levels.  The other correlative is much more metaphysical in its outlook. When I am ill it is normally preceded by rain or forms of electric storms. This was the case the day after a freak storm hit ImeceEvi from which I recovered only after leaving the place, and again the day after torrential rain hit Petrota during the night;   on both occasions it brought some form of psychological attack against me. The other coincidence is my attraction to girls when I am   peaking in my immune cycle, in which I am more vigorous and transcendent.

 

I think the obvious diagnosis is that rain is not coincidental to ill health, in fact I believe the rain is reflective of my disrupted social consciousness, i.e. it re-orientates my social influences. Also, there are a lot of people who will believe in ethereal beings, jinn or bad spirits causing such, somehow connected with my travelling vocation, where I don’t sleep much and have very inconsistent eating habits. Regarding the food, often I have eaten the same food on different occasions and reverted back to full health, practically disproving that the food could have been bad. But in conjunction with an altered electrical magnetic energy (EMR) even very good food can make one ill. What if I told you that my body is not so much affected by the inert presence of electrical energy but from a transmitter that alters its hertz value by changing its cycles per second? This transmitter could easily be transmitted from space changing the magnetic field of an area already charged with electricity. My theories extend to evolution premised on this basis of magnetic disruption caused internally by the earth or externally from alien astral bodies entering it. Yet even when I stayed on Lesvos for nearly (6 of) 10 days in a hotel room I still maintained perfect health. Why? Simply put, it was a pure chance encounter that was unplanned for; nobody was informed of my presence there.                                                                                                                                                                          

So, it still doesn’t discount the fact that ethereal beings could be causing electrical charge alterations as emanations within a social consciousness. And likewise one’s social consciousness can be changed at the entrance of other people moving into one’s sphere of influence. But seen from the greater perspective social consciousness is changed by alterations in the EMR of an individual. In the larger scheme of things people’s behaviour will change if their EMR is affected, giving one the sense of predetermination and identification with a different social group. Hence, just recently my illness appears to be triggered by the presence of beings, ethereal or corporeal, but actually one is just behaving according to changes in their EMR which can be a natural phenomenon, like for instance the exigent measures people have to take against disruptions during natural catastrophes like forest fires that entail people having to work together. And it does not disclose the fact that there can be transmissions from outer space, for instance satellites. Who would ever know? At the moment Franz has changed his whole behaviour pattern; he is now fishing every day which he admitted he doesn’t normally do. Is this really to do with my introduction and ‘influence’ or can it be that they know where I am and are changing my EMR?                                                                                                                                                                                             

One would think that an ethereal being could follow me around anywhere, including Lesvos Island, unless of course they only come into effect by a social consciousness and the cultural heritage of a place to generate influence. And this does not discount the possibility that their existence is created by the mindful presence of actual corporeal beings. But what’s to say that science hasn’t tapped into this phenomenon and started meddling with the natural electrical fields on this planet causing the destruction of traditional social structures and protocols once invested in organic life. My random activities could easily evade a satellite transmission; likewise living outside areas generating electrical fields removes me from a disrupted social consciousness.   As an offensive weapon it could be used to alter the personalities of individuals on this planet, or induce determined outcomes in competitive sport, or change the weather patterns. I ask, ‘Why would it insistently follow me around all these years? ’ if alien technology truly exists then it has been around for thousands of years at least. As I say, it may be no more than a distant stellar transmission from outer space that only generates the presence of ethereal beings   through the collective mind of corporeal beings. But As the basis of evolution science may now be exploiting this possibility from satellites and destroying the evolved structures of organic life on this planet.                                                                                                                                                    

I am soon to travel to Thessalonika to get my flight. The last time I was there we had the most horrendous downpours you can ever imagine, during high summer. Before I left though, I ensured that Erika and myself got some good plant material in, including a couple of rhododendrons and cyclamen under the pine, an Acer palmatum shaded by the surrounding fruit trees, some pampas for the dryer exposed areas, hostas for the shadiest area, teucrium amongst the roses,   a few additional climbers like solanum and variegated ivy, and some colour and wind protection with elaeagnus. There is certainly   scope for more food, but other developments could include a huge wildflower meadow, a reed-bed system since all the waste water is recycled and Erika spends a pretty penny paying for fresh water; only grey water finds its way beneath the trees. Likewise a nut orchard wouldn’t go amiss and I spent some time introducing them to new possibilities with monkey puzzle, buart and heart nuts, plum yews, and gingkos. In fact   Erika has a couple of trees which are her dearest possessions. Having moved one we discussed the possibility of grafting a female member onto a male, as I saw it done at Padua Botanical Gardens which ensure the plants get fertilised and nuts are produced. Like monkey puzzles you never know what you are getting, whether it is male or female. 

 

I left with fond memories, hoping they will invite me back. Franz may not be so keen since I had the impression that maybe I stayed just a bit too long. Franz had told me that he only works the winter, and spends most of his time taking it easy. As I reflected on their hospitality it was the diversity and tolerance of their nature that most came through, shown in their creative skills and willingness to share. The food menu read a pretty picture too; squid, salmon in sweet sauce, servietten knӧdel, roll of succulent pork, hummus Lebanese style, tomato soup, mena'esh (little breads with wild thyme mix), Viennese green beans, stuffed peppers with millet, real peaches in syrup, curries, diverse salads and a delicious British bread and butter pudding. Franz also contributed with char-grilled food. On repairing the wind chimes I left the sloes for both of them to make use of; I hear they make cognac with them here. I also left them rosehip and almond/walnut cake, and rosehip jelly.  For my last night I roughed it out in Alexandropoulos taking in the expensive coffee culture.  The following day I was gone; Erika stuffed a bit more euro in my pocket even though I refused to be paid.

 

In Kabala the night was just serene, pre-empted by my form on the guitar as I played in the bus station. It was already dark and so decided to sleep on a green, beneath a palm tree. The docks looked beautiful at this time of night and I forsook the inclination to play anymore; better to use it as a pillow with its extra stuffing inside as it doubles up as a holdall. Like my new shoes, already the seams were splitting. This day I would return to Markus the fisherman. I kicked myself for not keeping the gift of candles originally intended for him; they went to Erika. The climb up to the castle seemed   shorter, this time deciding to stop by the antiquated house of Mehmet Ali the contemporary future ruler of Egypt. Some of the geometric woodcarving around the windows gave me ideas for my own future home; the house gave views to the horizon. I found the mazy path back down to the sea spotting both Markus and his loving wife; she was smashing cockles in preparation of the bait put at the bottom of the fishing baskets. After a long swim he showed me how to fish. We clambered along the coast line passing a few boats along the way, said hello to Ilias who was going for octopus, and then came to another breakwater perfect for launching boats. During the winter the difference in sea level is obvious from the erosion on the rocks; everything must get submerged, including the varieties of rubbish accumulating over the hotter months. Avoiding the spiny molluscs stuck to the rocks we waded out and swam to a location about 15 feet deep. There we collected the previous basket anchored on the bottom. Markus proclaimed, 'This is the king of the sea'. The small beautiful fish sells at €40 a kilo; he seemed to have about 1.5 here, and so easy too. This sargos was mixed with another slightly larger fish called sarpa; little did I know we would grill them 2 hours later and flush them down with a few beers. Markus would always say to me this is what he was, a fisherman for 53 years here on these rocks. He wasn’t just a wiry hippy you know.

I promised to come back, telliing me that his family on Crete were rich and we would go there together on a boat. Certainly it is part of my cultural immersion to see geography older than Greece. He took to me very quickly, maybe because he identified the spirit of freedom I have. He showed me his dilapidated shack that looks like the roof is going to cave in any day now; his wife lived elsewhere. Anyone else might have thought this man was on the run. I later learned that the doctor diagnosed his liver with cancer, but he will not believe it. Instead he guzzles down three or four bottles of ouzo a day; the profits from the fishing must go to paying off the Bill. The doctor gave him 2 years to live, one year ago. He was a happy man,   living life to the full, and saw the fullness of living in me. His children from his rich first wife don’t see much of him although his daughter passes by once a year; his son is a millionaire, a director for Budweiser. We talked about living in the moment and this got him on my side. When I tried to explain that other people loved him he got annoyed, shirking his responsibilities to his wife who wants him to stop drinking and go to the hospital. He would just tell me of the women and parties he had as a captain on a cruise ship, travelling the world. If this man can hold his breath for 40 seconds I am sure he has a lot more in the tank, and he will be here next time I return.

Thessaloniki was a massive let down. My contacts and friends from last year when I passed by here all let me down; it seems the 'English' disease had struck again. Bear in mind that when I left this city last year under the auspices of the amounts of rain I became seriously ill with some sort of blood poisoning. It seemed that an agency was trying to prevent me from entering a Muslim country. Because of the rotten hospitality I lost my opportunity to revisit the botanical garden, which were closed, and could only do what I know best, meet a whole load of new people. The amount of women I met was extraordinary. Fortunately that night I was taking my flight back to London.

 

To summarise, a Greek woman is dishonest only for the false city life she has to put up with. Capitalism breeds discontent when it goes wrong. On the other had a Turkish woman is not so beautiful to the eye but wholly honest; she is much shyer and conservative. In the case of the Greeks it seems that their mythological past anchors their souls into their sexual appetites from a very early age. Even the small children wear shorts so tight that they expose their bum cheeks, obviously fashioned after their elders. If I look at most of my encounters I find something very interesting; it seems foreigners are much the happier, maybe people who are passing through, or take up residence in a foreign country. The question I ask is: are people truly happy in their own country? Omur was protesting, Ismail and Reyhan were pagans, Markus was a Cretan, only Yorgios was truly happy in the island he was brought up in, and   he used to be a travel agent. Maybe he learnt his lesson seeing all those people escape from the    city. City life breeds dis-content. As for the twats I met last year who could not visit me for a cup of coffee and say hello, we must ask 'What is this disease that sucks me into the city? '

 

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