Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Garden State

(Life back at Home)

Oh how I missed the surf in southern California

It’s been a while since I’ve journal. I think the last time I was in Cannakale, Turkey, the modern city of ancient Troy where I finished reading Homer’s Iliad while sitting before the walls of the city that had been burned down shortly after Homer’s story. I meant to write about the concluding days of my time in Turkey, about the feeling I had when returning to Greece staying with Marina and Marino (reminding me of the feeling of home). I meant to write about London and the architect who brought to life my former aspiration to become an architect that I had in high school, about the guy I met on the plane home and how I was able to give back to him the hospitality that I had received all summer, and about life back in southern California after three months on the road. But I never got around to it because it was those moments that held all of my attention captive.

It is now early September, and tomorrow I will finish the first week of my new school and work in San Diego and I am excited for the opportunities I have had already to apply to life at home the lessons I learned while abroad.

Life can never work against you when standing still. When you have no expectations you can’t be disappointed. I don’t mean that plans aren’t good, or goals aren’t of value, but when we become attached to the goals and plans of life that we perceive, the present moment becomes lost and can never again be recovered – time moves only forward.

A special tour of my new place...
Days after coming home from traveling, I had registered into a full-time load of classes and secured a job working in coffee at a new shop in San Diego called Kaffee Meister. However, what ended up falling through was my plans for the living situation. A friend I had hoped to stay with decided it wasn’t a good time to move in after all. After a whole summer of freedom from feelings of anxiety and worry, for a few moments these feelings started to re-appear in my mind. Between many phone calls to try and find a place to stay I discovered that my friend Zack, who had moved to San Diego just a week before me, had been living out of his truck and with a cover over the bed, he was actually enjoying the simplicity as well as saving a lot of money. And then I remembered my trip, and the philosophy that seemed to have found me during that time, and decided to detached from the plan I had made for life in San Diego and to join Zack and continue being flexible like I had been all summer. I would trade cars with my little sister, and live in her Four Runner, and resort to bringing only the essentials of my possessions that would be necessary for the first weeks of life in SD. I strapped a surfboard to the ceiling so that I could sleep with my gear underneath. I had a backpack for school, a milk crate filled with clothes, a skateboard and climbing gear to keep me busy when there was no surf.

I’m going on the sixth night sleeping in my car, and while it is not the best sleep in the world, early mornings are assured and keep my productive. With very little possessions around me it is not easy to distract myself, but I have a lot of time to read and write philosophy. I hang out in cafés, at friend’s houses, sometimes they are there and sometimes they’re not. It is nice not being restricted to one location every night. If I want to surf in the early morning before class, the night before I can park my car and sleep near the beach wake up and be in the water within 10 minutes. If I have work really early at the café, I can just sleep outside and wake up minutes before my shift.

balance board....of my own creation
At school I really enjoy all of my classes, especially my class in Existentialism, where I am reading Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, and Marcel, who’s writings all encourage my lifestyle as it is right now. It is not because of need that I am living out of my car on the street, nor is it a result of poverty or a consequence of careless living. Rather, I choose to live this way (for the time being) for experiences sake. The early Existentialist writers would say that value is not a term to associate with material possessions but one that can only describe the personal experience that is subjective to each individual. The higher the value of an experience, the more purely individual a choice was made. They would say that values are subjective in this sense. For example, take a charitable act, is it valued a good thing in an objective way, despite the heart and attitude of the person committing charity? Or is it valued specifically because of the heart that is behind the act? I have grown convinced of the latter.
A must see!!!

Anyway, this is what I am learning in school and daily practice. But before I do away with that subject, I should explain why I titled this entry Garden State. Garden State is a film, one that a saw a few nights ago for the first time with some friends, about a guy who learns the value of momentary experiences. He stops taking the pills he had been on since childhood, which dampened his emotional reactions to life, and he does things that are not normally part of his known routine. He meets a girl, who shows him the value of his unique individuality and saves him from losing himself in the monotonous acts of life. I loved the movie, and in light of my new existential curiosity, I decided to make it the theme of my first few months in San Diego. It is the heart of the individual that is truly present in the experience of now that begins to move forward beyond itself.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Istanbul: Mosques are like Swimming Pools

Insıde a Mosque

(In order to be current, I skıpped my hıke up Mt Olympos and my stay ın Thessalonıkı, but hopefully I wıll get those posted soon!)

Istanbul ıs the only cıty ın the world establıshed on two contınents. It cradles both Europe and Asıa and contaıns ın ıt a populatıon of 17 mıllıon people who have an advantage over the rest of the world. Thıer culture was created from both western and eastern tradıtıons, and so thıer worldvıews are free to lıe anywhere they choose along the spectrum of thought. They have a rıch hıstory extendıng past the Ottoman and Roman Empıres ınto the Bronze Age and yet ın recent years they have not faıled ın keepıng up wıth the modern world. They have the latest technology and fashıons. As I sıt ın a cafe ıt was a touch screen regıster system used to take my order, smartphones all around me are rıngıng ın calls and sendıng out text messages, and laptops are busy wıth free hıgh speed wıfı access. Next door ıs a haır salon where trendy hıpsters are cuttıng the latest European styles for half the prıce you see at home and across the busy pedestrıan street are many fashıon boutıques competıng wıth best deals and the best graphıc desıgns to advertıse them. The transportatıon here ıs cheap and effıcıent for ıts massıve populatıon that ıs always ıncreasıng. The underground metro system ıs the nıcest and cleanest I have ever seen and the busses are somehow safe and effıcıent despıte thıer overly caffeinated and anxıous drıvers. The taxıs dont do so bad eıther, possıbly because the only way they dont run you off the sıdewalk ıs when you jump ın. Thıer economy ıs also ın great standıng compared to the rest of the world and thıer future promısıng and secure. As a result I thınk the people here are happy and content knowıng that thıer future belongs to them. Opposıte to what ıs typıcal ın a tourısty town the people here are more helpful and frıendly than anywhere ın the world that I have been. They seem to respect each other and thıer vısıtors too, even when there ıs a strong mıx of secular and tradıtıonal culture. Half the women wear headdresses and long sleeves and the other half are ın skırts and hıgh heels. Istanbul ıs a place where vıbrant culture and hıstory are found on every street corner. I have no desıre to leave, and so I wıll stay untıll the end of my trıp.

A quıck sketch of the vıew from the Asıan sıde lookıng
over the Bosphorus too the European sıde

Havıng just come from Greece, I can see that Greek culture has much ın common wıth Turkısh. Durıng the Ottoman Empıre they were practıcally the same natıon lıvıng together for over three-hundred years. Whıle food and musıc ıs very sımılar, the major dıfference ıs relıgıon. Greeks are mostly Chrıstıan under the Greek Orthodox Church and here ın Turkey almost everyone ıs Muslım. Mosques ın Istanbul are lıke swımmıng pools ın southern Calıfornıa, there´s one ın every neıghborhood.

Couchsurfıng wıth Bılal and Afşın
Me thınkıng really hard...and showıng off how
good my poınt-and-shoot camera ıs 
For thıs reason, you mıght expect that Turkey would be more of a cultural shock for me, but thıs has not been the case. Suprısıngly, I fınd myself and my values relatıng more closely to the people and relıgıon here ın Turkey. In Greece, there ıs lıttle seperatıon between church and state and I thınk relıgıon has become so common, so famılıar that ıt ıs rarely notıced as somethıng that wıll actually change your lıfe. For example, ıt ıs common for Greeks to begın an actıve sex lıfe ın thıer teens, and ıt ıs openly dıscussed between frıends and even famıly. Sınce the establıshment of Turkey as a republıc ın 1922, ıt has consıdered ıtself a secular country but the people have stayed closely connected to Islam. Apart from actıve worshıp and prayer ın the mosques, vırgınıty ıs saved for marrıage and ıf your really tradıtıonal you wont physıcally touch a women who ıs a non famıly member asıde from your wıfe. Turkısh people choose to follow Islam out of a love and desıre for God. Sınce I have been here, fıve tımes a day I hear the Imam at the mosque sıngıng to Allah through the loud speakers and all of the people stop what they are doıng to lısten for the three mınutes of musıcal melodıes. It takes gettıng use to, but ıt ıs beautıful. To everyone readıng thıs at home who mıght feel sorry for the people here because they dont have Jesus, dont bother. Untıll you are here to see the beauty and delıcate desıgns ın each of the mosques and the commıtment the people here have to thıer God that far surpasses most Sunday church-goers at home, and the purıty of thıer marrıages that ıs so rare today ın Amerıca, dont worry yourself over ıt. Its not our place to judge or to feel sorry for people because they happened to be raısed ın a dıfferent geographıcal locatıon. God ıs just and wıll He not take all of these thıngs ınto account? It ıs more ımportant to love, each other and others, even ıf they come from a dıfferent relıgıon. Thıs ıs what they do here, they are frıendly and kınd even to those who come from dıfferent relıgıons and worldvıews. Isnt thıs the heart of Jesus, and ıf they know the heart of Jesus, who ıs to say they dont know Jesus hımself?

Matthew 25:31-45
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply,

‘Truly I tell you,
whatever you did not do for one of the least of these,
you did not do for me.’

I would love to enter ın some healthy dıalogue wıth those who dısagree wıth please comment on thıs blog and let us dıscuss the thıngs of God!

(More storıes and pıctures to come of my tıme here ın Istanbul!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ioannina and Meteora

(Besides the few photos I uploaded, you can check out more photos corresponding to this blog at this link

Me, Flora, Nina and her ınjured foot
I was suprised when I realized that my last blog was from Sifnos, because its been a few weeks since then and I have had so many more adventures and gone to so many other places. After the islands I returned to Athens for just a few days where I was able to meet a lot of Greek people at a CouchSurfing picnic. One guy I met was driving the next day to Korinthos, his home town, and he offered to give me a free ride. So I went to Korinthos and saw the ancient city of Corinth that Paul was writing his letters to, and after that went to Nafplio and visited the ancient Greek theatre of Epidavros and then got a call from a CS host in Patras, the north of Pelopponese, to stay with him a few days and go free beach camping. His place was really nice and I was able to rest well and at the beach campsight I became really good friends with him and his friends. I was with Yannis for four nights and we were like best friends when I left. I took a bus to Ioannina where I met two Dutch sisters living in Amsterdam, we were at the same campsite. Nina and Flora were thier names and they were really nice and lauging all the time, even after Nina stepped on a sharp knife and I had to quickly get her to the hospital where she ended up getting one stich. There was so much blood running down her leg and my hands and feet I couldn't believe it was just one stich, but apparently it had gone in really deep. After just one night in Ioannina I woke up early and caught a bus to Meteora.

They say that thousands of years ago Meteora was a lake, which is supposed to explain why today there are many huge rocks towering over the valleys and small towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki. The rock formations are beautiful by themselves, but then there are monasteries on the very top along the cliffs hundreds of years old. Words can hardly explain the experience of being in Meteora, pictures even less because they mask over the beauty your imagination may have come up with.

I stayed at a campsight in Kastraki where there was an awsome view of the rocks from your tent. At the campsite I met a German couple traveling together on a motorcycle, and also a Frenchman who was riding alone on his bike. I was perfect, because without all of his gear on his bike there was an extra seat for me, and so the four of us on two bikes rode up and down all of the windy country rodes of Meteora. On the first day it was already too late to visit inside the monestaries, but we had a picnic at sunset at this spot we found with a paneramic view of Meteora.

The next day me and the Frenchman Julian visited two of the monasteries, spoke with some of the monks, got plenty of pictures, and exausted our share of the beautiful views that are everywhere in Meteora. I ended up asking the monk questions to better understand the practices and theology of the Greek Orthodox Church. We talked about the icons that are so important in the church, the prayer beads and gold and silver crosses and flashy pictures of Jesus, Mary, and the Saints, and the colorfully bright frescos on all four walls and ceiling of most orthodox churches throughout Greece. He said that the material icons are meant to act as  symbols that keep us aware of God throughout our day. The monk explained to us that there are levels of faith, and the higher or more spiritually atuned you become, eventually you will no longer need the icons to be aware of God. They believe that in the bible God did not complete his directions for the Christian way of living, but through the example of the saints we have a more complete picture of the Christian life. This is why the the saints are exaulted as much as scripture.
The levels of a spiritual life caught my attention and so he explained more. The first level is when a person comes to faith out of fear for hell or fear of interrupting the tradition within the family. The second is what he called the 'supermarket' faith. This is where you say, do, and give certain things to God in order to reap the benefit of earthly blessings and the eternal life to come. The third is when you realize that the life you have is all a gift from the creative hand of God and so you are free to live a life of gratitude and give it all back. This sounds so familiar to what I have thought about church-goers at home. While at home we have very little tradition left in the church, not like they do hear in the Greek Orthodox Church anyway, but we certainly have our own church routine and I wonder how many of the thousands that atttend a church service are really seeing past the routine. In Greece it is apparent that few people actually see past the icons and really have any personal relationship with God, but the precentage might look something similar to us at home as well. Few people see past the emotional experience that is so shallow and yet inevitable in all religions, and so the connection they thought they had with God ends when the feelings have past.

One of sıx functıonıng monesterıes ın Meteora
When julian and i were done at the monesteries we headed back to the campsite where I found the Dutch sisters wıth thier tent set up next to mine. They made it, despite Ninas injured foot and her crutches. Apparently, it was the crutches that saved them. They were able to milk a few rides out of them untill they eventually made it to the campsite in Kastraki. The four of us made a spagetti dinner and played cards all night untill we finally went to bed at 1 in the morning. I had to get up at 730, pack all my stuff, fold away my tent, and walk 2 kilometers to next town to catch a bus at 9. I hoped to get to the base of Mt. Olympos in time to start that same day. I figured once I got there I would find some kind of informatiıon about the two day hike that I had in front of me.

Monday, July 11, 2011


(Ok so this post should have actually come before Paros, but I am just now able to catch up with my blogs)

It has been a lot of fun traveling with Mia and Carol (See the Santo Gang post) the last few days, but there is a time for everything, and I realized during our first day in Sifnos that the time for us being together would end soon. The two of them are traveling the Greek islands as a vacation gettaway from work, where I am traveling all summer, like them to escape work, but for a longer period and a tighter budget. Mia and Carol seem to be on vacation spending mode, where nice hotels and pricey dinners is within their budget. While with them in Santorini I had relaxed my own spending a bit, but I know I will have to be more conservative if the money I have left is going to last me another six weeks on the road and get me home. I have grown to be ok without a roof over my head, content with simple foods, and open to free transportation like walking and hitch-hiking. This is what I mean by conservative spending, and when you do all of these in the same day, surviving becomes very inexpensive. So the three of us, each with different purposes for being in Greece, have each made compromises. I have been spending a bit more to eat out with them and they have taken to my style of sleeping on terraces and empty houses.

But more than money I am also in search of something. Something I don't ever expect to find, but will always be in persuit, the asnwer always unkown. I am talking about the feeling when you encounter the uknown and sometimes unfortunate circumstances in life with acceptence and ease. Thats the best I can do to communicate it to you, but we all have encountered it during our lives, only this summer I am intentionaly looking for it. The unkown and unfortunate circumstances are inevitable to all of humanity, but approching them with acceptence and ease is the hard part.

Mia, myself, and Carol at the cafe
We arrived to our first day on Sifnos without knowing where we would sleep, but we had heard of a hotel relatively cheap in a small village called Kastro. We took a bus to Apollonia, the islands biggest city, which is actually no city at all, where we stopped at a cafe for coffee. the owner ended up being really cool and we talked about a lot of politics and Greece's economic situation and how apparently there is oil here that can restore it within a few years if only a Greek company would start digging it up. We stayed for a few hours untill we decided to look for the village we had heard about. Carol and I wanted to walk, this way we could get more familiar with the island. Mia wasn't up for walking because it was too hot and we had our heavy backpacks to carry with us. We found what I thought was a simple solution, but later caused a lot of miscommunication. Mia wanted to meet us there in a taxi a little bit later in the day and Carol and I would walk to Kastro, calling her if we ended up anywhere different.

The bar underneitih the terrace

Carol and I found the village but not the room and had little luck finding anything under 40 euros. So we kept walking around the small village, with absolutely no tourists around, right above a fishing harbor that had the most beautiful, clear water I had ever seen. We ended up at a Cuban cafe bar asking the guy if he knew of a place to sleep. Kostas was his name, and he was a small guy in his seventies with extremely short, cut off blue jean shorts that were hugging his package tight. He had a green army shirt with cutoff sleeves, a thick dirty mustache, very little teeth, long and thin greece hair slicked back under a bandana. His bar had the best view of the harbor below but was really small inside, dirty, and cluttered with parafonalia from Cuban revolutionaries: Che Guevera t-shirts, Fidel posters, old war caps, newspapers and magazines covering that whole conflict. Kostas told us as he pointed up, "You sleep on my balcony and you use my toilet," and then he started making us free drinks. Carol and I didn't need to think twice about the offer before we laid out our bags and sleeping gear on the balcony above.

The terrace where we slept
Cuban music was ringing loud in the speakers, Carol was singing along and cooking us dinner in Kostas' kitchen, Kostas was dancing, and I was in amazement at the fact we were there, experiencing something you only see in the movies. All night I racked my brain trying to understand where this this guy came from. He was absolutely crazy, drank so much Haverna Club but never beer or wine because he said it made him too drunk, although Im pretty sure this guy as lived his whole life half intoxicated. The theory I came up with was this: Kostas was a Cuban revolutionary himself, at one point affiliated with Che and Fidel, and had escaped their unfortunate outcome to this tiny and desolate Greek island of Sifnos. Over the next two nights that we stayed on his balcony, I was convinced by the stuff in his bar and the stories that he told thaqt my theory was fact.

Cuban Revolution Parafinalia
Kostas - The Crazy Cubano
Thanks to Carol's cooking skills, dinner turned out really well despite the lousy selection of ingredients sold at the "mini market," anchoves, tomato sauce, cheese, pasta, and an onion we had with us already. I swear it still may have been one of the best pastas I have ever had. The first night Carol and I grabbed a few mats from the bar below and used them as padding on the wooden deck. We stayed up most of the night talking under the starts as the breeze from the harbor kept us a little chilly. We actually slept very little, but eventually the sunrise came, and we were already in the perfect spot to see it. the sun came up, lighting the harbor and the surrounding farms along the moutain side, and the terraces of the village. Animals from all around began to sing thier morning song, first the roosters, then the song birds, the sheep and donkeys, dogs and cats. There were so many animals around us I couldn't believe how loud they were when the sun came up. While Santorini was the most beautiful sunset, I think this place in Sifnos must have been the most beautiful sunrise in all of the Cyclades. Carol and I thought again to ourselves that this should be in a movie.

The harbor below
What happend next was totally unexpected, but the neighbors, the traditional looking old Greek ladies, began to yell and wave us off the porch. We could not understand what they were yelling in Greek, but it was clear they did not want us there. Carol and I just laughed as our morning became even more Hollywood. We finally got up and walked down to the harbor to swim and clean up. Looking up you could see on the top of the hill the village and the wooden terrace that we slept on reching out into the valley with a paneramic view of the village, the sea, the harbor, and the farmland.
Remote fisherman harbor

The next day we ran into Mia again and we ended up renting a car and explored the rest of the ilsand. We bounced around to all of the major harbors and thier beaches, the last of them turning out to be really amazing, where we ate fresh octopus and fish. The three of us returned to the Kastro for another night of the same thing, hanging out with the crazy Cuban and sleeping on the wooden terrace.

The time for the three of us to depart came eventually, when we took a ferry back to Paros. They were gonna get a hotel and I found a couchsurfing couple that siad they would take me in for a few days.I knew I would miss Carol and Mia, but I was ready to be couchsurfing again. Hostels are good in thier own way, but they are not as good as the cultural experience that couchsurfing offers.

Im coming up to the middle of my summer and I have left to see the Pelopennese and northern Greece. I am also thinking about traveling through western Turkey. Every person I have met coming from there has said it is the best place to travel. I have been corresponding with a farm there through WOOFER., an organization that connects world travelers with farmers in need of labor, where you live and work on the farm in exchange for free accomodation and food. It will be tricky getting there on my budget but there will be no expenses once Im there. Untill then I will continue being open to all that traveling has to offer when you have no plan.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Paros is just another beautiful island of the Cyclades where I have come across many more amazing experiences. There are many big hollywood stars that live here in Paros, Tom Hanks, and Madona, who just bought a small island just of the coast. Just like all of the others islands I have been to, this is a dream land for even the wealthy.

Hanna Vasco and I having a sunset picnic on the beach.
It has been especially good because I was able to stay with CS hosts Hanna and Vasco, a young couple, 26 and 22, German and Swiss, living here in an apartment. During my two days with them we were able to connect really well because Vasco was a musician and we would play music together. Every meal we cooked together, mostly salads and bread because they were both vegiterian. They had a garden her in Paros, and they were very eco-conscious in everything they did.

We had coffee one morning at a cafe and I learned that Vasco was the best in the tennis league here on the island, and because of that, he and Hanna were really connected with everyone. During the day I would hitchhike my way around. It was suprising that the only rides I was able to get, which were quite a few, were from foreigners on very small, half broken scooters. As I hung onto the back it was always a mind came to let go of the need for control. My safety was in the hand of a foreign stranger, and I just had to accpet that and enjoy the ride. I'd say it is both a dangerous and healthy excercise.

This is me being mobile.

After couchsurfing I made my way to the opposite end of the island to Noussa Camping, where I had to pay 9 euro for a small 'cabin,' which was just a glorified tent with a light and power outlet. I wouldn't call it the best experience, the place or the people, but I decided to rent a scooter so I could be mobile and get out of the campgrouds more easily.

One day I headed to a small traditional village called Kostos, to hopefully run into a guy named Pantelis who was a self sustaining farmer with a history on the island. Hanna and Vasco told me about him. I found his house with a visitors welcome sight out front, but he wasn't home. His number was left on the door, so i called him and he told me to come back later in the day. So i hung out in the town center tavern with a bunch of old Greek men I couldn't communicate a word with, and returned to meet Pantelis.

Pantelis' farm
He eventually showed up and we hung out for a few hours. He pulled off figs from his tree for me to eat, and also gave me some homemade lemonade. He told me all about his families history on the island and how his traditional style of farming does not work well in modern society. With all of the new supermarkets around the island he makes little money from his farm, but rather just uses it to sustain himself. He also is a blacksmith and winemaker. He showed me his work space and wine celler, and even let me taste many of them. He played some traditional Greek music for me and overall I was amazed at his traditional style of living on the remote hilltop. His house was the same hous his grandfather and great grandfather lived in, and he lived the same routine they had for the last hundred years.

Pantelis' traditional style bedroom
When Hanna and Vasco told me about him, they explained how he pays epople not with money usually, but with his home made goods. Food, metalwork, wine - all of these were his form of exchange. Paper money has less value for him and without using much of it his life is more simple. Speaking of money, today my visa card got eaten by the ATM machine. I am clean dry out of cash making the next few days very difficult. It's Saturday, and the bank is closed today and tomorrow. I have no idea what I'm gonna do. My spare card has not been activated so it is useless. Tomorrow I was going to catch a ferry back to Athens but now I have no money to buy a ticket, let alone eat. In this moment, I can't help but wish my life was as simple as Pantelis.

My traveling is dependent on interent that is either hard to find, or a total rip off, but without it, I'm stuck where Im at. Pantelis said he has never travelled outside of Greece, and hardly outside of his island. He is stuck at home with his hens and his farm that must be tended to constantly. So while his life is simple it is also confined, and mine is complicated but mobile. I dunno which is better, or is there a balance that lies perfectly between the two?

(This was  a journal entry from the 9th, and I have worked out all of the complications and I should be on a ferry in a few hours on my way back to Athens .... so mom, you don't have to worry about me! Love you all, and maybe while couchsurfing on the mainland it won't be so difficult to blog more often like it is here on the islands.)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Santo Gang

My last few days in Santorini have been amazing hanging out with Mia, Carol, and Conrad who we just call the German. We went wine tasting at Santo Wine Estates, bought our two favorites and finished them off before the bus even showed up to take us home, we hiked up Ancient Thira and down the other side where we were cliff diving in the ocean, we went to the red beach where the German became more red than the beach was famous for, we rented ATV's and discovered a remote beach that became our favorite 'little piece of heaven.'

The Santo Gang is a perfect example of how traveling can bring people together. The German was only 17 and this was his first time traveling alone, and he made himself a student to all of the older people around including me, thier philosophies and experiences. Then thier was Carol, an extremely chill Brazilian, 23 and has been studying in England and now Switzerland the culinary art of gastronomy, where you cook with the elast amount of waist, making tasty appetizers and enteres out of things like peels and seeds you would normally throw out. Miah was the oldest and also the one with the most traveling experience. 30 years old and from Denmark, she graduated with a degree in international development and has since been traveling the world leading campaigns for social improvement. And then I'm thrown in the middle of these people, each of us so different but so similar, our new friendship solidifying every moment, at a quick pace that is only possible on the road.

The German left this morning to visit family on some smaller island in Greece that no one has heard about. The rest of us, Mia, Carol, and I decided to travel together for a little while, first to the island of Paros, then Sifnos, untill we will each go our own way. While writing this we are waiting for our ferry to Paros, and when we get there we have no idea where we will stay, maybe find a room to share for a few days. I have grown to love the feeling of not knowing details like these, and I am at the point where worry and anxiety I don't feel anymore. Everything will work itself out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Time is Irrelevant

For a few days now the time and date has been unknown to me, and everytime I think to ask someone I stop, because it is irrelevant.

One night I cooked a nice spagetti dinner for ten of us at the hostel, and some of the girls wanted to cook again the night after. I guessed that I would be back to eat at ten-o-clock and we called it a date. This was the first reference to time I had used in days, and I don't know how I excpected to hold to it.

That day me and a friend took off on an ATV to the opposite end of the island to visit a book shop and to watch the sunset that Oia is so famous for. I was far more impressed by the bookshop, where the volunteer staff from all over the world slept in bunks built among the bookshelves. They practically had to climb up the stacks of books to reach thier beds. Books were piled to the ceiling and followed spiral staircases leading to the terrace above. I had never seen anything like it.

After the sunset, which sets very late, we had an hour ATV ride ahead of us. I remembered dinner, and thought for a second to check the time to see if we ould make it back. And I remembered that it is irrelevant. We were where we were at that moment, and the hour long journey ahead of us would still be there if we knew the time or not. So instead of asking for the time, and anxiously driving back to make it to dinner, it was better to remain dettached from time and enjoy the ride home.

We arrived perfectly on time to a wonderful, all-you-can-eat home cooked meal and lots of good company. There was no rush or worry involved.

That night I talked with a girl about this concept: to enjoy every moment, hour, or day without worrying about the days to come. It is not an original though obviously, though it is an original feeling to be ok with it, one that goes back to many existential philosophers and writers. Dostoevsky in Notes from Underground wrote that the act of achievement is more meaningful than the achievement itself. Sartre in all of his writings glorifies the momentary experience, as does Camus in many of his novels.

I remember when I read the works of these writers feeling very dark and hopeless in a world where tomorrow is irrelevent, but I am now experiencing the beauty of appreciating the here and now, uncomprimised by the worry and anxiety of tomorrow.

Jesus talks about this way before all of these existential writers, in verses that have always been among my favorite in the Bible.

"Do not be anxious about your life,
what you will eat, nore about your body,
what you will put on. For life is more than food,
and the body more than clothing...
And which of you by being anxious can
add a single hour to his span of life?
If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that,
 why are you anxious about the rest?"
Luke 12:22-26