The Traveller by Afrodykie

Dreams are made of this – and so are nightmares

THE velvet blue sky leans into the hot earth.

It moves to kiss sunset’s orange pink skirts, and why not?

They’re billowing in carefree ribbons along the stark contours of the darkening and jagged mountains.

Night deepens its adamant ardour.

It clutches the elegant remnants of day, and throws them to the stars.

The full moon smiles and the plants’ fragrance — oregano you think it is, and/or that many faced plate sized thing that smells like honey — its sultry scent clings to your clamouring skin.

Ah, Madame X, where … where are you?

It’s been a long day; up at 7am to walk Vento (and yourself), then you drive a hired car 95km from Eressos to Mytiline, 100 or so from Skala.

No, no, no, you’re not looking for the most swankily dressed woman in Eressos. no.

You’re going to a meeting, to seek your fortune.

What’s that triangle of blood on the top of your nose?

You rub it off with some wet toilet paper, at Iliotropio, your favourite place on the shores of the Kalloni Gulf — thanks to a generous serving of indulgent sentimentality and very good food.

It’s the first place Madame X took you to. It’s the place where a melody all adagio played, on the Day of the Dancing Cloud.

But you don’t let this slothful this tedious emotional dross, you don’t let it stop you.

And one bloodletting slap in the face from the branches of a tree in a parking lot, it won’t get in your way.

You get into the car, brave courageous you; intrepid woman, beautiful woman.

You bang your left arm against the door trying to change gears.

Yes, the gear shift is to your right.

That’s what happens to me in South Africa, Mr V says later.

Your silver pinkie ring slams into the door again, and again.

Every time it shouts louder and louder auslander foreigner you’re in a new place.

Thanks gott you’re wearing your big girl panties.

You make way for shepherds and their sheep. You wave and smile.

Smile? More like a grimace you’re so alone.

The pine forests gather closely on the sides of the road. They conspire, so quietly, to tell you you’re close to the capital.

You park in the first available spot.

Where am I, you ask a man in a bookshop.

In the cetnre of Mytliline, he says.

Bonus!

You’ve stopped close to the harbour, this harbour that wears a fringe of significant shops and restaurants around its horseshow face; this harbour where fancy yachts berth; yachts from places such as Turkey (not far away, across the Mytiline Straight), the US and Italy among others today.

It’s also the harbour where the boat people from Africa land.

They stand in queues, docile. That’s where they begin the bureaucratic process to facilitates their entry in to Europe.

Delicious irony, fleeing African rule dot dot dot to seek refuge in the lands of the erstwhile colonisers!

They’ve paid three thousand dollars each to get here, says Mr V. They’re from Morocco, Libya, you name it.

They come with the GPS coordinates for the holding camps installed on their phones, he says.

You see them walking there, he says, looking at their smartphones.

The harbour sweats in the heat of it all.

Uhoh, your old Blackberry konks out in the phone shop where you’re buying air time.

You can’t believe it. You have to get a new phone, there and then.

Crumbs, the expense!

You meet who you’re meeting at a pizza restaurant. It’s across the road from a big grey frigate tethered to the quay.

You find, yes, there’s a possibility that a business could blossom but heaven forbid, the red tape, the research, the planning!

The taxes!

Mr V comes back and walks with you to a bookshop.

Yay! Your Greek books: English-Greek dialogues and a Learner’s Pocket Dictionary, with real Greek writing in them too!

The evening chorus of swirling swifts and swallows, it reminds you it’s time to leave.

You drive out and head for Plomari, the ouzo capital of Lesvos.

Mr V says his cousin, at Lesvos Estates, is selling a lot of property there, to Norwegians.

But you don’t get there.

You take the wrong turn-off and land up alongside the Gulf of Gera, one of the two gulfs of Lesvos.

You think about the refugees at the harbour, the way they’re clutching their prayer mats and buckets of hopes.

At Papados, there’s a load of wide-eyed Africans grabbing at the steel bench in the back of a police van.

You can see the whites of their eyes so wide open are they.

They look this way and that. They’re trapped.

You turn around and head back through groves of thickly set olive trees; olive trees so old their stems are entwined, they tear torridly into themselves.

They look like lovers in an oblivious ecstasy, panting for release.

Oh dear, you get close to Eressos, and veer off the road to fill up with petrol.

Later your realise: you’ve driven out the way you came in — back to Kalloni!

Tears blind you.

It’s late now, and the car’s headlights are brighter than the moon.

You drive, and drive. Exhausted. You’re afraid of how the road gives way to nothing.

You’re finished.

You can’t get home too soon, back to your cocoon.

(ends)

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