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"You don't have to suffer to be a poet; adolescence is enough suffering for anyone." -- John Ciardi
|Episode 24--Greece: Search for Atlantis|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 16:20 PST
|cherie writes: July 2000|
Sage Advice: Don't bring jeans on a cruise. 24 hour-a-day free room service and zippers do not mix. Better option, men--bring those elastic expandomatic pants; women--wear a Mu Mu (Moo Moo) (If you are going to eat like a cow, you might as well look like one.)
Santorini, the next Greek Island, enchants hermits and hedonists alike. Bearded Greek Orthodox priests and half-naked wine-gulping tourists walk the same cobble-stone paths. The salt in the sea breeze is so rich it's palpable. The jagged cliffs are crowned with white-washed houses and blue-domed churches. 1450 BC the island imploded in a cataclysmic volcanic disaster leaving only its perimeter to explore today. Islanders and historians seem to think it's more than a Greek Myth that under all the rubble, beneath the sea, lies Plato's lost city of Atlantis.
The largest caldera in the world (created by the ancient eruption) became our swimming pool. Then, we boated our way out to the volcano in the center of the caldera. It looked like shavings of dark chocolate on a blueberry sea. Climbing up the volcano, the rocks changed colors like light refracting in a prism--the acrid smell of sulfur dying the rocks yellow, the copper turning them green, and the iron creating a dusty red film. Then we jumped in the water and swam to the hot-springs. Verdict: not hot (luke-warm, at best.) The water was a murky red and the ground gushed slimy between our toes. (Kristi quote: "This is gross.") The molten earth surrounding the volcano was scorching hot. You could dig a hole a few inches deep and boil an egg in 20 minutes. (The only fast-food you can get on a Greek Island.)
Volcan's are the people who live near the volcano amongst the colorful jagged terrain, the yellow smoky air, and the red slimy water. I could only think, "Are they out of their Vulcan mind?"
Patmos was the next Greek Island we encountered, the remnants of a 10th century village enveloped by grapevines and olive trees. We made our way up into the hills to the same cave where John the Evangelist dictated the Book of Revelation. I wondered if over 1900 years ago John wanted the last sentence of his religious work to be "Caves are cool," and then thought better of it and scratched it out. Even though "cool" appears to be the best word to describe the cave, the phrase doesn't seem like appropriate New Testament verbiage.
Mykonos (the next island) is the most popular of the Aegean Islands with its country-side dotted with windmills. The island is an intricate labyrinth of scraggly streets, like some teen-age rocker's unruly hair, going the very direction you least expect it to. The tangled stone-paths may have deterred pirates (the reason they were designed so chaotic) but they didn't stop us from renting mopeds and racing around the island's beaches (all of them clothing optional.)
Mopeds never break down in a convenient place. Mine chose the winding path on the way to "Super Paradise" beach (just in case "Paradise" beach isn't enough) to sputter to its death. I wasn't that excited to hop on the back of Kristi's moped since she had already crashed once (the only body damage was hers). When we finally found our way back to the rental place, it was Kristi's job to hide her bloody leg and Nicole and my jobs to engage the owner in a game of charades trying to explain why we were returning more keys than mopeds. It may seems odd that the owner was content with "I left your bike on the side of the road", but no more strange than us renting the mopeds without so much as a name, phone number or signature.
That was almost as violent as our "Donkey Slam" experience in Santorini. We paid 1000 drachmas (about 3 bucks) to take a donkey journey up to Fira. The donkeys seem to have a competition between themselves: "who can slam their tourist into the most stone walls." My donkey won (14 slams) with Nicole's donkey a close second. We met Carter and Kristi at the top. They were refreshed and full of energy (after taking the cable-car up the cliffs). Battered and scruffy, I felt like the jack-ass I just rode.
If you'd like to read more about Carter, you'll have to read Tinus's journal. (Tinus is pronounced like "penis" with a T.) (Good thing Tinus grew up in South Africa because he would never have made it past grade 2 with the teasing material built into his name. Tinus and Carter's new love came aboard the Stella Solaris in the form of dreamy eyes and hopeful smiles--the way he put pepper in her soup; the way she rested her head on his shoulder. Ahhh, those first few weeks of love when everything is a fantastic miracle: "You breathe air?So do I!" A love so new that the windiest of nights can't prevent him from baring his chest to give her his T-shirt.
My best memory of Tinus is his Turkish bath. He got an "extra" wash for his "extra" part. I wonder if the Turkish bath attendant was thinking: "I am washing the penis of Tinus."
Stay tuned, the next episode includes Istanbul, the only city in the world on two continents.Cherie
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