Tuesday, June 28, 2011

High and Lows of a Lone Traveler

Courtyard at Cave-land
Soon I will have been in Santorini for a week. I originally though I would stay here a few days and then continue onward to explore and discover many more of the Greek island variety. After meeting so many travelers who have seen many other islands already, I know that each island is unique in its own way. Santorini is known for its white, red, and black beaches and the Caldera sunset, Ios and Mykonos are the party islands, Hydra is desolate with only one means of transportation, donkey.

Travelers are always suprised when they here that I plan on being in Greece for so long, as they usually have come from all over the world and have many other destinations to go. But after a whole week on Santorini, I still haven't seen half of what it offers its visitors, and Greece further still. A summer is not enough time to know the island, not enough to know Greek culture. So I'm happy to be in Greece all summer, to do it right, not to rush in all of a countries sights and monuments at the expense of the people and culture that created them.

The longer I stay in Santorini the more beauty and culture reveals, every time a high moment of my travels, but I have also been dealing with the lows of traveling alone. I have been meeting so many great people. I think that most world travelors have a lot in common, or they would not all be traveling to begin with. They are the margin of people from wherever they come from that are open to new experiences, positive about life, and free from all that constrains us at home, or at least trying to. So it is rare to meet a fellow traveler who you don't like, and it is just as rare not to have one or two everyday that you become really good friends with. Sometimes you hang out with people for days without even knowing (in my case, remembering) thier names. But names are not important in a setting such as traveling. What's important is to share experiences together, and what is best is to share yourself to others.

"You give but little when you give of your possessions, it is when you give of yourself that you truely give. For what are our possessions but things we hold on to for fear of tomorrow?" - The Prophet (Kahil Gibron)

Abroad you trust a stranger from the moment you meet them, unless they later do something to break it, where at home it is the other way around. You have to slowly build trust with other people, and the process of building relationships is greatly drawn out. No wonder people at home struggle with being lonely, it is the nature of a routine life.

Baglama, my new greek instrument.
So Im meeting really interesting, one-of-a-kind people, but usually one or two days later they're on thier way gone. The relationships don't last, only the memories and experiences of moments together. Then I am alone, and I have to start all over. Sometimes I will move to a different hostel or place on the island, even if its more expensive, just because of the people that are staying there. If I vibe well with the people, it's worth the move. It becomes an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows. Giong into this trip I knew this would happen and I told myself I would be open to it. I think I have been much too detached from my emotions in the last two years anyway. The passion that I so desire in life is inspired by the high and low experiences both.

So what of all these great experiences I've been talking about? I will share a few from the last few days.

After staying in John and Katerina's Hotel on the south end of the island, and saying goodby to Kelly and a New Zealand couple I had been hanging out with, I headed to the more central part of the island to a place called Cave-land (, a new hotel/hostel in a quiet country vinyard where the rooms are built into dug out caves from hundreds of years ago. The feeling this place produced in me was the same I had in one of my favorite movies, A Good Year. The main character, Russel Crowe, a wealthy stock broker from London, inherits his uncles property in the countryside of France, and as he prepares to sell the place for whatever its worth, he begins to re-live old memories and eventually he finds himself in love with a girl, and also the property where he spent his summers growing up. Throughout the movie he is fixing tennis courts, swimming pools, side gardens, and vinyards, all of which are hear in Cave-land.

Here I met Michael, a guy working at the hotel and perhaps the most like-minded person to me I have ever met. He's been working in Santorini for four months and originally came from Mississippi. He is creative, spiritually sincere, a student of world literature, a lover of music, and we hit it off really quick. I almost feel like I've known him my whole life. Since he has to stay at the hostel to check people in and out all day, we end up just sitting around the cave, talking about literature, and out of two little speakers play music that bounces off the walls of the cave and sounds like a thousand dollar surround sound system. Music I've been listening to forever is beginning for the first time to echo in my soul, a purer form of communication between artist and listener. Talk about a surreal experience.

Although Michael works at the place, he understands my situation, homeless and looking for work in a foreign country of a different tongue, and he kinda helps me out a bit. Veronika and Costas, the couple who own the place, are both very cool and I was hesitant to except some of what Michael offered because I didn't want to take advantage of them. But my mind has been working lately in survival mode, and so I justified some of it by helping out alot around the property and doing dishes and giving some of the clients rides to and from the airport. Regardless, everyone seems to like me and would rather have me stick around than see me go.

Back in athens I bought my Greek souveneir early, a mandoline-like greek instrument called a baglama, that way I could learn to play it and have something to do when I get bored. It's been alot of fun!

I also met two Australians at Cave-land name Donna and Joan, both older than I with careers teaching and scientific research. They have been my adventuring buddies the last few days. They both leave tomorrow.

My time to leave Santorini has not come to an end yet. I just feel drawn to stay and I don't know why. One reason I suppose is that I have spent more money than I thought I would at this point. Transportation is just so expensive and I know the more I hop around locations the quicker I will run out of money. This takes me back to the question I answered to myself at the beginning of my traveling this summer. It is better to submerge yourself in a culture rather than just checking it out at a tourists distance. So I will stay another week, or even a month if I can find a job.

In the end, these kind of things work themselves out.

Donna and Joan
The best food ever!

The Cave

Cave-land Crew

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