Tag Archives: Castellorizo

marine-induced-semiotic-delirium

IMG_5359 Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea
– Keats ‘On the Sea’

Kupang is not Kupang: it is Tangier, Barcelona, Venice, Castellorizo, Istanbul, Kas rolled into one. Day 500. Day 9 at sea. Nothing is itself anymore. Under the solvent influence of the sea memories and vistas are breaking apart, dissolving. They’ve lost their crystalline objective quality. Physical form is detached from meaning. Signifiers bear no relation to signified. Places have lost their peculiarity. Everything is the same.

To my eyes, vexed and tired as they are, everything is composed of common attributes. Nothing is unique. Even the people I meet are not themselves anymore, they remind me of people I’ve met in other places. I glance about me at the boats, the shops, the cars lining the foreshore of Kupang and I’m confronted by a queer sensation. Places have lost their unique aspect. One is the other. One stands for all. Everything is familiar and strange. I’m neither here nor there.

IMG_5081

75 nautical miles northwest of Kupang we pass a village in the Solor Archipelago that, for all appearances, could be my Yiayia’s birthplace on Castellorizo. The Solor village convenes in a crowded fashion around the nucleus of mosque and marina, but substitute mosque for cathedral, coconut palm for plane tree, satay for soutzoukakia, and it could be Castellorizo, could be Istanbul, could be Tangier. The configuration is different but the elements are the same: trees, shops, houses, roads, parks, schools.

IMG_5348

The outcrop of rocks on the foreshore of Kupang is to my eyes, Sydney Cove. The sinuous camel-hump profile of Banta Island is the Olgas. 9 days prior , off the East coast of Lombok, we passed the Wallace line, the ‘faunal boundary’ between Asia and Australia, so it’s conceivable that the coastline here was once part of the Kimberley, part of the landmass I call home. None of us are strangers. All of us are kin.

Approaching a city from the water smooths out the differences. Buildings, objects and people come into focus slowly. There’s time to recollect. As Lea steers the boat headlong into the breeze and Keith drops the pick I hold on to Richie, hoping his presence will anchor me to the moment, preventing me from drifting 14,000km to Tangier, where 16 months ago we strolled along a seafront promenade not unlike the one here at Kupang and found ourselves seduced for the first time by the grace of mosques, palms, and the heady piquancy of anonymity.

IMG_4970

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Culture, Philosophy, Travel

10 Highlights of a Greek Odyssey

Saying hello while you wave goodbye is a natural fact of long-term travel. No sooner have you become attached to one place, one person, than it is time to move on again. This blog is a tribute to moving on: 10 highlights that made our time in Greece rich, memorable, and ‘real’. Time to say ‘hello’ to Turkey and wave ‘goodbye’ to Greece.

1   Aegean Sunrise

There was no one else around when we stepped off the ferry in Igoumenitsa. It took a while to find our way out of the international port to the dock where the Corfu ferries depart. Nothing to do but wait. I felt chipper as I gazed into the fishy waters below, reverberating with the significance of our visit. Glad to be by the sea again. The cold thickened. Richie wrapped his blanket tighter around him. The bakery flung open its doors, and the sun rose. It was splendid! “Hello Greece we are here, please give us the best!”

2   Cold Coffee

Drinking cold coffee is a pass-time at which Greeks excel. Not wanting to be left out of the fun Richie and I adopted the habit promptly. In Greece, cold coffee is as much of a necessity as it is an indulgence: the only sane way to pass the murderously hot long afternoons when your Crocs melt faster than Icarus’s wings. Most cafes provide wifi so rather than spend your precious euros in a smoky internet cafe you may as well buy a cold drink while you check emails and travel forums. Quality and prices vary but what stays the same is the sweet, smug indulgence of being able to sit and wile away a few hours while the rest of the world deludes itself about the necessity of ‘work’.

Cautionary note: unless you want to support Nestle avoid the ‘frappe’ and go for the real arabicca deal, the freddo cappucino. 

Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Books, Culture, Earth Care, Food, History, Social Justice, Travel

Castellorizo

“Do the words ‘ella sphinx-a-tinkath-yassu’ mean anything to you?,” I ask Terry, my new Greek friend, over dinner on the waterfront in Koroni. I’m embarrassed by the words I’m saying, which sound like nonsense to my ears, something about a sphinx and tinkerbell.

“Yes,” he answers immediately, surprising me. “It means…” he pauses, trying to think of the correct words in English, “Come, make your heart tight.”

“Tight? Are you sure?”, I ask, needing clarification. He looks out to sea, and rephrases:

“More like strong. Come, make your heart strong,” he says, clenching his fist emphatically. His action makes me feel more confident that what he is saying is closer to a true translation of my Yiayia’s words.

One week after the Greek lesson in Koroni, I’m still thinking about the words of my Yiayia. ‘Ella sphinx-a-tinkath-yassu’. Richie and I are hanging over the rails of a Blue Star Ferry. It’s the 24th hour of our voyage from Piraeus, and the tiny island of Castellorizo is coming into view.

The island has its back to us, a collar of rocky mountains turned up against the heat and glare of the afternoon sun. A deep scar runs across its shoulders, a road purpose-built for army vehicles. The boat is enormous, and Castellorizo, less than 12 square kilometres, is tiny! We wonder how the captain is going to bring the ship into port.

Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Culture, Earth Care, History, Travel