A Greek trip:
Sometimes expectatives create established ideas on your head that made themselves a parallel world called “prospect stories of what will happen”. You cannot avoid making yourself a previous idea of what the future could give you or where the happenings can take you, and sometimes its better just to not think about it and enjoy the present without hesitations.
In my case, when I was told that I was making a travel to the Hellenic archipelagoes the blue color came to my mind, only a plain color without stories to tell. For the first time in a long while I didn`t know what to expect, I didn’t have enough knowledge to really expect something, I obviously knew all the ancient greek history by memory because of my studies, I obviously knew some greek words because of my “speaking roots”, but they weren’t enough to my mind to preform an expectative. I had two choices then, whether I could look on the internet for information, learn and prepare myself for the travel or manage myself with what I had already on my head and take advantage of the experiences I would get later. I choose the second one, and now that everything is over I can say for sure that I made the right decision, I painted that blue plain scene with living experiences.
This story is about that trip, about the people involved, about the troubles, agreements, experiences and resolutions of a journey that transform at least my way of understanding not only a nation but a completely different way of living the every day’s challenge, not only speaking about the greek shock but also the Europeans culture shock for a Chilean teenager.
Before the arriving
The main problem was to know where should I walk after I left the airplane at the Frankfurt airport the 24th of July, my german wasn’t that good, I barely knew some words and how to ask for an “Apfelsaft Schorle” on a Café, also, eventhough I had money on my cellphone I couldn’t get to phone my parent’s friend Markus because I had written down the wrong number on my cellphone. I was lost more or less, until I saw him approaching to the hall, the relief I felt seems now indescribable, in less than 16 hours we would be departing to Kos, so my time in Germany wasn’t really that long, despite of that we went to the airships base to see how was the new paint frame of Markus’s airplane and to buy some fruits for the evening before we left. Hans-Peter, one of Markus’s school friends and Valentin, a boy I had met two years ago were with us, and the Taxi arrived a little late but we made it to the airport and finally, two hours later to the Island of Kos.
About the Dodecanese
As I was writing this I started to wonder about a couple of details I didn’t reach to comprehend during the travel: Places, meanings, roots etc… so I started to make out some conclusions, first of all about the very place we went to, the Dodecanese. Taking my language Greek roots, and some translations, I could find out that NESE came from “Islands” and that “Dodeca” was a numeric association that meant “twelve”. My guess is that in the beginning they were 12 main Island that became an archipelagos and then they started to install themselves on the secondary and most dry Islands. Markus told me that in the past most of the Islands where much richer and greener but the Romans totally exploited them until they became rock and sand.
Now, this is the truly definition: Dodecanese is a group of 12 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are inhabited. Τhe island group generally defines the eastern limit of the Sea of Crete. They belong to the Southern Sporades island group. They have a rich history, and many of even the smallest inhabited islands boast dozens of Byzantine churches and medieval castles. The most historically important and well-known is Rhodes (Rodos), which, for millennia, has been the island from which the region is controlled. Of the others, Kos and Patmos are historically more important; the remaining nine are Astipalea, Kalimnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, Nisyros, Symi, Tilos and Kastelorizo (which actually lies in the eastern Mediterranean). Other islands in the chain include Agathonisi, Alimia, Arkoi, Chalki, Farmakonisi, Gyali, Kinaros, Levitha, Lipsi, Nimos, Pserimos, Saria, Syrna and Telendos.
About the history, this Archipelago has been colonized by the ancient Greeks: Minoans, Mycenaeans, the Turkish Dorians (who founded the three main cities of Rhodes), the Delian league, the Alexander’s Empire, the Romans, The ottomans, the Italian kingdom and state, and now, the Greek government.
The travel journal
25th July 2012.
The time difference between Chile and Europe was still an issue to me but despite of that, after we got to the Tigaki star hotel in Tigaki’s town (Kos) I made myself the energy to keep the other ones rhythm, we left our luggage at our rooms (I got the 503), which were pretty well equipped, and went to the nearest beach to find out about the windsurf hiring and classes and to have lunch. There I was decided to be the finances minister, a job I didn’t mind to get. Basically I needed to take care of a “public money pool” and to administrate the expenses in order to make it last the longest time possible, other charges involved to buy eatable goodies and other needed stuff for the crew. Around 16:00 PM Emmanuel joined us, he had come from Paris the very day. With almost everyone and everything settled, we went to the town and hired some old bikes on a retailer in order to being able to make short trips and meet the island and buy eatable stuff on a store nearby so at the evening we went to have dinner at the beach: sunset light and lots of snacks. Markus told me that I had to start learning German these days and he gave me a task, a hundred words per day and speaking exercises all the time, “Wir fahren im den fahraden“,”Wir gehen nach die Hotel” and so on. At the night, before I came to bed, I did it: 100 new words.
26th July 2012
In the breakfast I showed my work to Markus and Hans-Peter, and we continued with the classes, past, future, nominatives, I felt like at the very first year of English at Elementary school, but I made my notes learned a lot of words and moved on to the day. As I was waiting for the others at the reception I started to talk to the receptionist of the Tigaki, I actually (eigentlich) don’t know why, maybe because outgoingness is into me or just because I was bored. Her name was Agiró, what means “silver” in greek, she and her sister Dionisia were the daughters of the owners of the hotel since 1992. She told me how to say a couple of words and sentences in her mother language. We got to the city of kos by cycling and visited the main attractions of the Island: The Hippocrates tree and the middle age castle. We had lunch at a very special place: La Canadeza, where they serve a really niche tzaziki sauce and where we met “Mike” whose real name was Jacob, and then by chance we met an old sailor who came to be a bike retailer, his name was Dimitri, and he spoke a little Spanish. As we returned, Markus hired a car and took us to a faraway beach where we had dinner at night. My German continued its improvement and that diurnal I learned many new words that I still retain until today.
27th July 2012
Carol and Maya finally arrived to the island, they got there by the ferry but that was only the end of a travel that began in Switzerland, where they took an old Vespa and got to Venice riding it. We met them at the Hippocrates tree and as they were the last seafarers to start our Mediterranean adventure, it was nearly time to depart to the sailing trip.
That day we hired some bikes at Dimitri’s place to make a day tour through the island, we went to Asklipion, the first “Hospital” on the history of occidental man, Almost all of us lied about our ages in order to get in as underage students, I was 17, Emmanuel was 17, Maya was 17, Carol was 17, and would bet Valentin was 17 too that day. I was stunned by the edifications, the columns, and arcs, everything I had only seen on my dreams or the History channel. After that we went back to Jacob’s place, and then we came back to the hotel in order to Carol and Maya to install themselves. I didn’t have dinner with them as I wasn’t feeling really well. I stayed with my computer at the reception to check my mails, my subjects at school and to call my boyfriend Marcelo for his birthday.
28th of July 2012.
I first want to apologize myself, these next few days aren’t as detailed as the previous ones but is more like a summary of what happened while we were expecting for the real start.
We went to Kos (city) by bus and received the ship at 17:00 P.m., Markus was a little fed up because they had promise him that the ship would be ready at the first sunrise. So we spent most of the day playing pool at a Café, (We defeated the other team by the way). We checked our mail, and I tried to find some souvenirs that really worth my time, but they most were either too expensive or too “made in china” as I say.
29th July 2012
The main Journey begins! I was so excited about it even if we departed late. We had made a short test trip the day before buy it only took around one hour. I remember that I said “We could even swim on our trip”, and everyone looked at me as I was crazy, “You can’t swim on the middle of the sea” reply Carol while Markus showed me the panels “If you fall down you won’t be able to reach us even if you were an olimpic swimmer”. So my idea was a stupidity but I had a real good time at my first sail, as they were to many boats at the Vathi in Kalymnos , we had to get to a small bay, nameless, on the north. Carol, Markus and Maya manage to get some fishes at a tiny restaurant, It was a good meal.
We keep things that we learn all the time, but they suddenly seem to vanish from the earth, for me and my German, Greek and English classes it wasn’t the case. I wouldn’t imagine I could improve that much my language comprehension, Markus and Maya really pushed me to enjoy the learning, and now that I have a strict “deutche büche für Fremdsprache” I realize that most of what I know, I learned on my trip, and most of what I learned is what is written on the first three chapters of the learning book. About sailing is the same story, I truly got to understand how does a sailing crew works, How to navigate, use the popping toilet, and play all kind of curious card games when we were bored. But let’s move on with the Journal.
30th July 2012
We stayed at this little bay an extra day, I was looking at the cliffs and asked myself how cool would be to climb up them. I wasn’t the only one with that feeling: Carol was already measuring how to get to the highest top, so we took water, some sun blockers and took the recently renamed “Frankreich” (Emmanuel, that was bullied the rest of the trip by Carol) with us. We climbed up, it was a dangerous but unforgettable adventure but we did got to the top of that rocky mountain and in order to climb down, we had to do some rock surfing, we all ended up with broken shoes and a great anecdote. At night we took the little boat and went to have dinner at the restaurant, the runner was a nice lady of 40 year that was already a grandmother named Nomiki, she lived there, in the middle of nowhere and had tons of funny tales to tell while we were eating, Markus asked her for a good thing to learn in greek, she answer “Poly Oreo” what is “Very good or very tasty”. In the table next to us, there was another crew, the “blue swans”, some Italians that would try to encourage us to make a run the next day.
31st July 2012
At this point there is really a fight over the common bathroom, It’s so hard to use it, once I spent more than one hour pumping at it and no even that was enough to fix it, so I decided to stop going there unless it was strictly necessary, I could use the bays restrooms the rest of the time. Anyway, that day we had coffee and breakfast with Nomiki, and then we departed to Kalymnos main port. I spent the rest of the evening on those narrow, typical and beautiful streets, walking, getting lost, and taking a few photos on my way.
1st August 2012
I climbed up to the church of Kalymnos, but I couldn’t get inside because I wasn’t properly dressed, on my way back I found a tiny store on a death end path, Kirikini, the shop keeper was a nice lady that didn’t speak much English, but I bought her some gifts for my mom, then, when I was approaching to the main square, I saw a plate on the civic building that said “Carabinieri Reala”, something didn’t seem to be right, there are two established places on the world were the Carabinieri work: Italy and Chile, What would they be doing on a lost island of the Dodecanese in GREECE?, that is a mystery that not even my history teacher was able to answer but we guessed that it might have to be related to Italian occupations during the last two centuries, could be even the WWII because the archipelago has been trespassed so many times that would be impossible to know why did they put the Carabinieri or when did they do it, because they were originally formed for the Kingdom of Sardinia. During the process of Italian unification, it was appointed the “First Force” of the new national military organization. Although the Carabinieri assisted in the suppression of opposition during the rule of Benito Mussolini, they were also responsible for his downfall and many units were disbanded by Nazi Germany, which resulted in large numbers of Carabinieri joining the Italian resistance movement.
Anyway, the reason of why we were there is because Karen got in the ferry this day and joined to the crew, now we were complete and ready to continue with the trip.
2nd August 2012
We sailed to Pserimos the next morning; It was a small Island, nearly limited to one bay where there was a tiny village with nothing more than restaurants. While you get into the territory, you found yourself in a place very alike Chilean countryside, maybe because we use to cultivate the same products: Olives, almonds, tomatoes. As I walked deeper, I found a children’s camping zone filled with kids and an orthodoxies church, we had a little time there but I really enjoyed these kind of details that make every Island different in its own way.
3rd August 2012
I really like to navigate on the boat, I feel kind of like a pirate sailing, looking at the map, knowing what is a Halsse and a Wende, tighten the robes and looking for the next destiny. Markus had been telling us about the Island the whole trip: Levitha, with no more than one family that farmed on winter and run a restaurant on summer, he had been there 15 years ago and now he wanted to return, according to him, nothing had changed at all. When we parked the boat, he and Karen offered us to invite the dinner with this family, we (The rest of the crew) were amused by it. The lamb in Greece is so different to the one we eat in Chile, and the rest of the food was so tasty! Anyway, after we finished we departed from the restaurant in two groups, mine got a little lost, but we got to find some Italian people to whom I asked just one thing “How do you say: Hello, how are you in Italian?”, “Ciao, como estais?”.
4th August 2012.
We were taking a look to the map and Markus asked me to find out about our next destiny the guide had a little summary about every island on the Dodecanese so I started to read them, there was one particular one that took my attention: Astiphaelia (Astifalia), even the named sound like a mystery, and it had something to do with pirates so I had not any choice. We departed at morning but when we got there we decided not to get immediately to the main port but to a narrow bay where there was no one but us. There we found an old abandoned factory; Hansy guessed it was from a brick business many years ago, and we saw a dropped Telephone on a roosted barrel. Then we visited a tiny chapel on the corner of the bay and started to walk across some old fields eating snacks to calm the hunger down. The moon was marvelous but because of the dark we almost didn’t make it back.
5th August 2012
We got to Skala, the main town of the island in the morning. I decided to find out more about the place so I climbed to the acropolis (top hill) in order to get to the Chora’s Castle, a 500 years old fortress designed to protect the city against the pirates that endangered the zone. There had been an earthquake in 1956 so most of the under part of the city was particularly new, although there were some beautiful old saved buildings on the mountains. I almost got lost on my way back and after I did, I went with Maya to meet the rest of the island.
That night we departed on an adventure, we would sail eleven hours to our next destiny: Turkey. Even though I stayed to help the first hours at the navigating, steering, drinking soda, tanking photos and changing the robes; I couldn’t resist the sleep and fainted around the two of the morning only to wake up the next day with many surprises: A new coast and a broken ship’s wheel.
6th August 2012
We were finally in Knidos, my first deed when we got there was to throw myself into the sea because of the heat, then to go to the ancient ruins that where the reason we arrived there. It was a Greek location once invaded by the Persians in what is nowadays Turkey, it was everything you would wanted to look at any Greek ruins, the amphitheater, the arcs and temples, the old ceramics, some harbors; I just love to imagine how were they in their golden ages. Maya bought a Turkish flag in order to suit more with the environment. Emmanuel and Carol made a Jumping Challenge in which Valentin wanted to learn a flip. You can instantly notice you are no longer in Greece, not only because of the flags and the language but because how people treated you, I hadn’t even got into the souvenir shop and the guy already told me that I had to change my cash into Turkish money, even though we were going to stay there no more than a couple of hours left.
7th August 2012
We left the mythic lands of Turkey to go back to the Dodecanese, there we skipped the main port to go to a small bay called Panormitis, which once had been an Orthodox monastery even attacked by pirates in their times. With nothing more than a few houses, I could realize that the thing we were supposed to see there was the chapel and monk’s living day. Markus and Karen even went to the communion of the believers at the evening, it was exciting and something I really never got to see anywhere else, they bought a book about the place but I didn’t find myself time to read more than a couple of chapters.
Just above this monastery there was a mountain, greener than any Greek mountain I had seen so far, so I wanted to know how it was. While everyone was in their own activities, I took my things and went to climb to the top: The view was amazing and the temperature was great, as I came back I saw an abandoned house, I yet don’t know why it was there.
8th August 2012
We decided to go to Symi’s main port, but for our shame, the spots were all full so we had to wait until later and Markus took us to an opened bay no much farer. They were many boats there and the water was excellent to swim, so that is what we did while we were waiting, besides we commented some of the big ships that came there to get some space, there was a particular English one that was enormous, and the guy who was apparently the owns greeted us from above, when I saw him I could only think in James Bond’s holydays.
After that, we finally came to the harbor and parked, just in front of an Internet café. We got the password and the first response was to stay at least a half hour checking our uploads, then I went to change some dollars and I met Fotis, a nice guy that was around 20 years all and had lived there his whole life, he told me to visit the acropolis on my quest of souvenirs without many success again, maybe because when I look for souvenirs I don’t look for some “made in china” piece of plastic, or a cup that says “I love ____” but something that really reflects what I see from the people, and what I appreciate the most of Greece is the way they live and the relationship with their history, whether they are related to it or not. We had a wonderful dinner at the restaurant that was just next to us and then I went again to seize the only remaining hours I had normal internet connection.
9th August 2012
Our Third day at Symi, Markus wanted to know better the Island so he hired a small car in order to take a look to the views it might offer. So Hansy, Karen, Markus and Me departed to see the houses, Karen loves to admire the edifications on its very soul and there were a lot of them to look at in our travel. We even got back to Panormitis and had a wonderful outlook of the places. We took our time to go to the city and found a Café called the olived tree, run by a nice English lady who had lived there for many years and loved it. Then it was the turn of Carol, Maya, Valentin and Emmanuel to take the car, but something was wrong, they didn’t come back when expected, and someone had to call Markus because they were stuck on a truck path near to Panormitis. It was Frankreich who warned everyone else that it was a way only for a land rover not a fiat. After they made it back, we went to have dinner at a very special restaurant at the corner of the bay. We ate lots of food and then came back to the ship and we proposed a game: The game was about how much attention you had put on the experiences we had got on the sailing adventure, and about who could write the most amount of details about the trip, every name was two points, every detail one. I personally had learned so much with the travel that I couldn’t wait to start, I made a list of what was most important, and then I wrote down the details of every place. I have a good memory, so I could manage myself to write almost everything we had done, even though I missed some details I can’t believe I forgot, like the Greek words we learned with Nomiki, the name of the Panormitis Cloister or some people we met. I understood that I had to write a diary about everything or someday I would regret it.
10th August 2012
Before we left the Island, I went to buy some ice to cool down the sodas and beer for our trip. Our next and pre-last destiny was Chalki (Kalki/Calki) another small Island next to Rhodes. We got there not so early buy I had time to look at the whole city, the main attractions and the heliport, a nice lady even let me look at her garden which was spectacular, they were some abandoned moulins on the top of the hill and very good “gelaterias”. Markus and Hansy enjoyed watching at a ship that parked next to us, a gigantic sailing boat, I don’t remember well which were its characteristics. At evening I joined Emmanuel and Valentin for dinner, we were a little upset because they charged us for some bread we didn’t even asked for or eat but we had a nice time anyway.
11th August 2012
That morning we got up early, I went with Markus, Karen and Hansy to take breakfast at a little café on the bay, Markus got the one and only taxi on the whole Island in order to get to visit some places. Alexander: a German that lived there and was a mechanic that also had a taxi driver job, took us to the monastery of Chalki and made a tour for us, since some ruins from a thousand years ago, to the old middle age Chalki, the castle and town were abandon because of the need of water and the inefficiency of the location. We even saw a donkey that passed on our way to the cloister. The monastery keeper was a little aloof and didn’t like us to be there, but we could meet the place anyway. Then Alex took us to the Necroagora or Cemetery and we took a look to it. After we go back it was the turn of the others and then it was time to leave to Rhodes, our last destiny: The home of the mythical Colossus and a fortress of the ancient world, a real treasure.,. We got to the city at evening and went out to take a look; it was the most “City” place I had seen in all our travel, with modern stores and banks. After a discussion we decided to spend all what was left of the common money on a night, we went to the most popular bar we found and asked for drinks and icecream while we saw the Olimpics, Markus told us to try a game “What could you say about everyone on the table, only nice things”. Everyone was a little shy at the beginning, it’s hard to say anything to other person it its face, even the best of complements. The exercise went well at the end, Emmanuel had to buy a ferry ticket to Kos to go back to France (Where he came from) and he was getting ready to depart to New Deli, India, to learn English.
11th August 2012
So Emmanuel had to go early and Maya and Carol had to take a ferry to Milano in order to go back to Venice, get their Vespa back and return to Swiss, It was a good bye, I knew I wouldn’t see them in a lot of time so I sorrowed, everything ends on a point but is the memory what stays in your heart with the people you meet, there is never too little place on it to get a new friend or a new memory to love.
The rest of us went to the old part of the city, it was my last chance to get my souvenirs and I had to choose quickly as we had to take our flight to Frankfurt. I almost got lost in-between those narrow dead end walks but I got something close to what I was looking for, we took a taxi to the airport and for our shock Markus realized that he had lost his mobile phone. He came back all the way to the city but the pursuit didn’t have any success. We finally left the Hellenic country that day; it was truly the end of the adventure.
After the travel:
I spent some days at Markus house, we went to fly above Wiesbaden and the surrounding towns in an ultra-light airplane he had, we went to a Donkey’s Convention and I tasted the spätzle for the first time. I wanted to see an exchange friend that lived in Germany: Tamara, and Markus let me invite her to stay with me the remaining days, we had a great time and I could meet the city where my parents lived for almost ten years. I had improved my German, I had improved my outgoingness, and I even dared to take the bus my own.
But eventually I had to come back to my life too, and I got back to Chile with a ton of new tales to tell, I had done some homework at the ship so I wasn’t that delayed, Would my life change now that I was back?, well, my almost boyfriend became my boyfriend, I finally did my collage test and now is Christmas, I only remember how good was to live in a boat. The problems end up being just scratches and the good moments in memories, I don’t believe I ever had a better travel experience and I retain every single moment, lesson, picture, place, person, and breathe out of it.
We got to know each other, to cook together, to understand how the toiled worked, to accept our mistakes, to learn from the others. How good was not to know a thing about where a was going, I got stunned by every stone and every place, and now that I’m writing these words I finally get how do adventures work.
Vi mi primer capítulo de Dragon Ball Z. Yo, pequeña, apenas alcanzaba el borde de la cama. Di un salto, tomé el control, encendí la televisión y vi por primera vez al gran emperador Freezer transformarse a su segunda fase. “¡Qué estás viendo Sascha!” dijo mi abuela al volver de su paseo, Freezer, en la pantalla, había atravesado a Krilin con uno de sus cuernos mientras volaban en Namek. Ella me quitó el control y puso las noticias, pero ya era tarde… había descubierto a Goku, y luego, mi primo Andrés me prestaría todos los comics de la primera parte de la serie para que no hubiera vuelta hacia atrás.
Los que no la han visto, siempre argumentan que es una serie violentísima, que no aporta nada, que sus padres no los dejaban verla cuando pequeños. Sin embargo, uno no necesita ver Dragon ball para ser una persona agresiva, haberla visto no quiere decir que uno intentará hacer un Kame kame ha contra tus profesores o saltar desde un edificio. De hecho, hoy les traigo 10 valores que yo considero que esta serie me inculcó, que no son violencia y que hablan más de educación que los Teletubies.