Ok so confession time…I’m very behind on the blog, over 2 months in fact. It’s not that I haven’t been writing, it’s just I haven’t been writing the blog! I don’t carry a computer, and I don’t use internet cafes. I have a tiny little iPod touch and I use a blog writing app called Werdsmith to write my thoughts and prepare the blog posts. The WordPress app is not very user friendly, especially on my little iPod, and although I have managed some posts, when I get a chance to use a computer I jump on it (not the computer obviously!). I email all my photos to myself, download them onto the computer I’m working from, upload them on the WordPress site, play around until I’m happy, and then i have a blog post. But even then it’s not all that simple – I’m a bit of a perfectionist and try to make each post individual. This means I can be working simultaneously on different posts and they can easily take a month or more to write (like this one for example). In fact they usually form as I am walking, the ideas swirling around my brain as I contemplate the people I have met, the conversations, the history, the landscape around me. I either stop to write when I have a “lightbulb moment” or, more likely, I record a voice memo on the iPod and write it later in the evening, along with my diary. I have tried to write every day so that I can keep track of all the places I have visited, and at some point i plan to plot my route on a map for everyone to see. But then when I pause for the night and start chatting with the locals, the writing often goes out of the window in a haze of food, wine, raki, ouzo, or just a good nights sleep!
And so I want to get up to date, or at least up to where i am now, which is sitting on a beautiful beach in the south of Crete. I have been here for about a month and it’s an awe inspiring island. But more on that another time. What I’ve decided to do in the next few posts is to touch on a couple of specific topics during the journey from the Peloponnese to Crete and save the details for the book which I may or may not write, but which everybody tells me I should! It has been an incredible voyage filled with every emotion, raw and pure: from total euphoria and happiness to complete loneliness, exhaustion and desolation, both mentally and physically; good times and bad times, fun and silly moments, and some downright terrible (yes I do have those, even though until now I haven’t really mentioned them). Oh and the closest I have ever come to feeling I could die (which is something I’ve been in 2 minds about putting on the blog with the idea of saving it, but have finally decided to write the story as it’s one of the most human experiences I have had since I started walking 8 months ago).
I’ve already talked in previous posts about the Peloponnese and it really does have everything. The countryside has been filled with every imaginable vista: snowy, grey and green mountains, and brown and red mountains; green and brown rolling fields and hills; startling intense blue seas with sheer coastal cliffs leading down to beaches of brilliant white sand or multicoloured pebbles glinting in the daylight; abundance and richness, colours and aromas have mixed with desolate, uninhabited moonscapes or rocky red earth that looks like it could belong on Mars.
I walked for days through scented seas of heavily fruit laden orange trees with their gorgeous white blossoms, and found myself lost amongst the silvery green olive groves, their labyrinthine pathways seeming to continue endlessly. Some days I have felt like the only human being on the planet, as I crossed a craggy expanse of ashen rocks, or walked along a dusty road surrounded by spiky purple heather and yellow flowered gorse. I’ve seen the pine trees of the Peloponnesus in all their glory, covering the mountainsides in their multitudes, and then turned a corner to behold the charred remains of the fires of 2007. And the flowers! So many, filling the countryside like blankets of colour, a feast for the bees.
I’ve passed through busy little mountain communities of white-washed and sandy stone houses, and almost abandoned villages with their crumbling walls – sleepy places with wide-eyed old ladies dressed in black, backs bent from picking horta (wild greens) in the fields. They stare at me as if I’m an intruder in the village, a suspicious look on their faces, watching me to see why I am there. Other times, in busier towns and villages, I’ve been stopped and met incredible people, received unexpected kindness and made great friends. And parting can be such sweet sorrow, which is unusual for me. After months of enjoying my solitude without any sense of being alone, I felt the sadness of leaving new friends as I embarked on the boat to the island of Kythera. I spent 4 days wandering the island, and felt my isolation for the first time, wanting more than anything to be back dancing and being silly in the bars of Neapolis.
But I am realizing that no matter how low I am feeling, it is always temporary, and soon I find myself once again feeling the joy of life, and knowing that there is nothing else in the world I would rather be doing. I am inspired to continue with each step into the unknown, and all the time Crete hovers in the distance of my mind, like a mirage which I cannot yet touch, but draws me onwards…
One last thing, I am also aware of the irony of travelling on this journey and being dependant on an iPod touch. The longer i am “on the road”, the more I find myself becoming less attached to everything that once seemed important. Like so many people who have said NO to a “normal” life, I believe that we just have too much stuff. And we are conditioned to want it, to feel that we need it, and everything around us drives us to consume, consume, consume. I met a very interesting Austrian doctor recently who is writing about this, and how our modern lifestyle is stifling the very essence of our creativity – he believes in the importance of using our hands, and our brains, and like me, thinks that capitalism, consumerism and the modern way of living are directly related to, and the cause of, many modern illnesses, unhappiness and the breakdown of relationships. He writes only in German, but I do hope that he reads what I am writing now, because I believe his message is one which many people can relate to. He told me the following story: one of his patients, an old lady, came to see him after her husband had died of cancer. She was sad, lonely and had nothing left to live for. He asked her to bring an old photo of her and her husband the next time she visited. When she returned, he took the photo, studying the couple when they were younger and happier. As he looked up into her eyes he saw she was crying. She took back the photo, placed it in her pocket, and with deep regret, announced: “and all we did was work”.
I’m lost, all at sea,
The bright lights surround me, illuminating every street,
but I can’t find my way.
Don’t tell me that this is life,
I pay, you pay, we all pay.
We leave our dreams behind
and take the path we are told to follow.
Quick buck, flash in the pan,
wam bam, thank you man,
jump on board your dreams are here,
oh wait! Sit down and watch them disappear.
Sit at home, watch tv,
eat some cornflakes, drink some tea.
Make sure you eat your 5 a day,
no actually it’s 7, that’s what they say.
The people are all up in arms
throwing bottles and burning cars.
They’ll rob you blind if they think you’re rich,
or even worse leave you in a ditch.
I’ve heard it said a thousand times,
by people with their so closed minds,
who only want to sit and drink,
and think what they are told to think,
by the latest ad that’s on tv,
and the news with its negativity.
But it’s not all bad, there is a choice,
so stand up, let us hear your voice,
Together we can make a change,
by saying NO to what they say.
Let’s break the walls, and open hearts,
at home is where it all should start.
Don’t be afraid to take the path
that seems to be a little hard.
You’ll never know what you can be,
unless you realise you are free.
Your life is yours, and only you,
can say for certain what is true.
So open your heart and follow your dreams.
For what is life if you must say,
“I’d love to but there is no way,
for I must pay for this and that,
my car, my phone, my rented flat”.
Robot 1 and robot 2,
you’re being told what you should do,
Android phone and iPod touch,
well here’s the rub…
Thank you very much.
Sent from my iPad (well actually I borrowed it for the blog post!)