The Traveller by Afrodykie

Y is for … Yappity yap
YOU’VE been in Eressos for nearly 16 weeks. It’s time for an appraisal.
Okaaaaay. Scratches head. Forehead wrinkles.
Four months is a third of a year in a remote Greek village that’s about 4km from its seaside equivalent, Skala Eressos, and 90km from the island’s capital and main port Mytiline — a hop skip and jump across the Mytiline Straight from Turkey.
The villages are in the 290.947sq/km municipal unit of Eressos-Antissa (pop 5 530: 2001 census). It’s the largest on the island.
Most people in this area live in and around Eressos/Skala (pop 1 097; in 1991: 1 247).
Next are Antissa (900), Mesotopos (853), Vatousa (529), Chidira (488) and Sigri (400).
There are other, smaller villages in the unit, among them Chidira and Pterounda.
You haven’t started exploring, but it is your mission and intention to do so, soon.
For there are many interesting elements here in the backwaters: a rich history dating back to antiquity, the petrified forest formed millions of years ago, and the traditions and culture celebrated in a spectrum of festivals. They go back a bit too!
Then there’s the architecture, archaeology, birds, butterflies, plants and the secluded beaches (dot dot dot)
There’s also winemaking – organic wine, mind you – and women’s co-operatives that make delicious food, so you are told.
Each village has its unique history and character, and of course, its plateia, or village square.
That’s where everything and nothing happens.
You’re so taken by the ethos of the plateia that you’re thinking of writing a soap opera, Plateia, with the tagline Drama 24/7.
For it is in the plateia that scores are settled, lovers are met and scandal is stirred by mean and vacuous gossip mongers, screw-eyed in their cant; it’s where passions spill into small coffee cups; where the cobblestones and plane trees hear and see it all.
It’s also good for business. Want something? Need something? Ask in the plateia.
Yes, you may have to wait a day or two, maybe even a week or a month and more but whatever it is always turns up, sooner or later.
Entertainment roots itself there too – festivals, festivities, music concerts, puppets shows, you name it.
The plateia is the essence of village life, the salt and pepper of small town living, and the village square of Eressos is a haven of happening.
Yes, it does look the same every single day; the same people sit in the same tavernas or cafes, the same lips move up and down in the faces of the blabbermouths, and the same vendors drive into the square shout through the loudspeakers on the roofs of their vans.
You even get to know the dogs.
But it is new every day too. Time moves, takes you forward.
Time teaches.
And boy, have you learnt some lessons in Eressos.
It’s been a fabulous learning curve. There’s joy in your heart, confidence. There’s peace.
You’re falling in love with this village, its characters, and its complex personality.
It’s honed you, beautifully.
You could not make up what happens here, what you see. It inspires you.
A font of stories seeps from its stones. The landscape sings to you. Sweet tunes, the colours on the mountains pink sublime dusky pink changes all the time.
The olive trees stand out green-green now against the brown scrubby shrubby hills.
Their time is coming.
Autumn nudges winter’s harvest ripening.
Goodbye? Oh no jolly-o.
You’re in the starting blocks!


The Traveller by Afrodykie

X is for … XXXX
THERE’S nothing like a kiss to get the juices flowing.
Ah, that second when lips lock and tongues tour.
How you long for it.
That meeting of mouths … the breath of another melting into yours, what bliss it is.
Your hearts beat as one, tralala. They pound into each other, your breasts squash flat against her chest.
It’s the start of surrender, this kiss, it shows mutual attraction, it’s the kick-off to a climax.
It confirms a fascination.
Of course, it is also the beginning of the end, for all relationships, love affairs, liaisons, they all end in grief – if there is some emotion in the mix.
It’s either a break-up or death. Either way, it’s going to end.
This means a kiss usually heralds heartache — usually but not always.
That thought though is not on your mind, not when you latch onto her lips, as if they were the juiciest plum on the planet.
Nibble nosh suck tease.
Your tongue thinks it’s on a Contiki Expedition it explores so much, so quickly.
Oh, the smell of her, that pulse throbbing in her neck.
Her sighs, the sounds you love, your ears are full of them. You hear nothing else.
Is there a world out there?
Your mouth is on her neck. She throws back her head, murmuring.
You glance at her face. Thank God, her eyes are closed.
You get serious and fumble with the buttons on her blouse.
Buttons breast, buttons breast.
She leans forward and takes your head in her hands.
Kiss me again, she says. Kiss me.
Oh, how you dive into the quiet words a river on her lips.
A breath of butterflies it floats between you.
Your bodies slam together, the dance of desire
The murmurs, her murmurs, turn into quickstep panting.
Your bodies swim in sweat.
You’ve ripped off each other’s clothes, your nakedness has met.
And yet your lips linger, lust. They work together, music in concert with hers.
This moment, this joyous jive, it is forever. There’s no day outside no night no anything.
At last, the nipple, your hands on a mission to the mound.
Hers, oh where are hers?
They’re in a circle round your neck, your back your everything.
They touch you.
Her hair splayed behind her, her face so tender, it’s so close to yours so touchable so reachable.
Stroke tickle hug.
She can’t let you go. She won’t, she smiles eyes big beads brown you drown in them.
And still you kiss, and kiss again.
It’s moist and warm and intimate.
It’s moist and warm and very intimate.
But you’re not ready. No, not yet.

The Traveller by Afrodykie

W is for … WTF
SWEET words sour in the glare of truth. They shrivel and shrink blink and say goodbye.
You’ve learnt some things on your life’s journey, and boundaries are one of them.
You take responsibility for your well-being, and excise the rot, the putrid fetid stink that rattles nearly ruins your temperate world. You wring its pock-marked neck and dump it.
You don’t look back.
For three months you are the efficient and diligent architect of a personal hell, you construct your misery with fortitude.
Yes, you build this house of pain carefully, brick by brick. It’s an edifice a monument to lost emotion.
Sooner or later she will trust me. Sooner or later we’ll fuck. Sooner or later she won’t say nasty things to me. Sooner or later she’ll sink into my arms. Sooner or later, please, sooner or later she’ll be sweet.
You step deeper and deeper into the mire, needy, scared, longing gnaws you.
She throws out morsels, measly scraps to a pandering dog.
You gobble them, hungry for her, you’re starving for affection.
Your heart gapes, gasping. See me, please. Love me.
You crumple at the feet of chaos, pathetic you lie prostrate, simpering at the altar of cruel manipulation (it was crass, unflinching). Worse, you speak in a trembling baby voice, and beg!
Don’t go. Wait. I’ll cook. Etc.
Oh, the torment. Oh, the victim, forever pleading, forever waiting, wondering, wanting.
She accuses you of vile behaviour, and trumpets it in town.
Sies! You screw up your face like a concertina. You’re ready to burst into a litany of squeaky sorrow.
My God, is this you.
You parry the shouting, the insults, the lies, the threats.
You grab the straws of dear docile moments.
And then whoosh, she explodes. Again. And again.
You draw the coat of denial tightly around you.
Person upon person tells you, beware. Get out of there.
Friends shake their heads. They look at you with puzzlement pity in their eyes.
Your guts it sprawls rancid in a bloody pool of sick.
You nearly drown, flailing desperate to please, to be loved, to belong.
She’s not worth it, a friend says. She doesn’t deserve you, says another.
Do you know what she says about you?
Hope smiles one evening when you talk intimately, sincerely.
We’re fascinated by each other, we say. Warmth dances in our eyes.
And then wack, she gives you the silent treatment.
It is the coup de grace.
Overnight, your heart steels.
It purges the pull to be with her, this brittle shell, this duplicitous and dangerous wretch.
No more!
Your scattered bits meld. You see you feel the shape of you.
At last, you are the captain of the ship, the SS Who I Am.
You hoist the sails of succour. You quickly dislodge the anchor the mainstay of woe.
You must, you must sail the sea of tranquillity, the bow speeding to the sunrise.
You must, you must leave the dark of cultish platitudes, their fire fanned by broken wings.
Who cares if her hurting hides a gentle thoughtful beauty?
There’s no room for soul pirates not on this boat!

The Traveller by Afrodykie

U is for … Unusual

EVERYTHING you are not used to is unusual.

It may be usual for someone else though, so technically, nothing is unusual.

It’s only your experience that makes something usual or unusual; your seeing, and being.

But this isn’t a philosophy lesson.

And you don’t want to think too much on a Wednesday morning in Eressos, Greece.

You prefer to imagine the summer’s silver growth on the olive trees, sleek leaves on thin branches, they bend and bob whip the sky. They bow to kiss – and miss — the stony earth.

The olives cling to them, they hold on to get fatter.

The figs too, they are swelling, bubbles of green fruit burgeoning; and your pear tree, the pears are robust in their ripening. They’re starting to blush so keen are they for a ravenous devouring; their curves voluptuous.

Oh that pear tree. That’s where you should’ve met her lips with yours.

The air bristled with potential and your heart raced.

But you had lead in your shoes, and courage sank into your soles.

She looked the other way, and drew her dogs about her.

Oh, how the crows cawed, raucous in their mocking, the doves dipped dangerous from the blue.

They laughed — what a fool are you hoo hoo.

The gravel’s stones crunched and footsteps kicked up dust, cloudy grit spiralled.

It stuck to your thick ankles, to your socks smothering your sweaty feet.

She sighed.

The sheep looked at you sideways.

They carried on chewing.

What did they know about desire, the future’s pyre burning bright, scalding.

What could they say about Attraction, that unruly tyke, the teasing scamp who makes a rogue of lust?

The rascal taunts you terrible. The night, the day – ardour coats your skin, your everything.

You’ve learnt a lot in these three months, a lot about yourself.

It’s not been easy, this learning, alone on a Greek island.

These lessons, a brutal and unyielding teacher, they’ve forced you.

They’ve called you to respond, no blanket of excuses could shield their chilling rout.

They’ve left you bare in the startling glare of clarity.

A focus so intense it lights a path. It dazzles you draws you.

It holds you close.

Your heart skips, joyous.

Pure essence illuminates your nakedness as you dance to the song of a dream.


The Traveller by Afrodykie

T is for … Thank you
THANK you for the music, the songs I’m singing … nah, way too cheesy, even for an Abba fan.
Thank you, Milou, for the washing machine, that’s what you want to say.
Milou? It’s Snowy in French. You know Snowy, from the Tintin comics?
The name is on the wall of their building, just metres from the sand and sea, in Skala Eressos.
Milou Bed And Breakfast
The kindness almost made you cry.
How sweet was that, to respond to a request on Eressos Connected, and to offer the use of their washing machine – and drying space?
It’s the warmest Eressian gesture you’ve had the privilege of appreciating — the second time in three months that anyone has invited you anywhere, and been nice to you!
You like soft landings…
And it was very soft at Milou.
Yonca added stuff to make your washing come out more delicate and someone, you don’t know who, pegged your laundry to the line.
You went for a swim and bought some vegetables and fruit while the sun lapped up its wet.
On Sunday, it was the day of the Big Full Moon.
You finished your online work and called Babis – you’re always calling Babis — to drive you to the beach.
You told him you’re getting a car on Thursday.
Ne, he said, and dropped you at the cantina.
You hitched your rucksack onto your shoulder and kicked off your slip slops.
The paddle ski cost E5 to hire for an hour.
And off you went, out into the Aegean, and around The Rock.
We call it the island, said the bloke who told you the do’s and don’ts of ocean rules.
The sea was choppy and the wind pushed you this way and that.
Around The Rock you paddled and then, boy o boy, you had to stop and plan.
The current pushed you back; the wind too.
You dug the oars deeper into the heaving sea, and still you didn’t move.
The beach looked very far away.
OK, don’t go straight into the wind, cut across it.
Phew. You could see the buoys again, and hear Parasol’s music pump.
Your plan had worked, and you paddled, sure and strong.
You went in and out of the shiny slipway in to the setting sun.
The church bells banged across the sea and the water splashed across the bow.
The ski slapped bumpity-bump, it clouted little waves, surly restless swells came at you.
You passed Da Luz then paddled back again.
The ocean was turning into silky oil, colour changing in the receding light.
You were ready for your swim, a lovely swim, and you found a sand bank.
Teens were playing Marco Polo there, and it made you smile, their carefree friendly joy.
Families, friends, they laughed and sprawled their happiness on the sand.
For once there were empty tables at the Blue Sardine.
You faced the sea waiting for your mountain tea.
It was soothing and warm. Like Milou.
And the moon smiled, and spilled its big bright light on you.

The Traveller by Afrodykie

R is for … Rock
SKALA Eressos, besos – calientes!
Hot kisses, yes, if you know where to find them.
No, silly, not under a rock … that’s not what this R is about.
Ok, this R is for … did you say, um … Rock?
More specifically, the Skala Women’s Rock Group at Little Buddha, as it’s named on Facebook.
It’s fun swimming with the wimmin at the harbour end of the beach, a Blue Flag beach, mind you.
Miss F and Miss T are there every single morning of the glorious summer, and part of spring and autumn too.
They get their little ducks ready steady go all in a row, and it’s splish splash to The Rock, a tiny island 314 metres off shore.
If it’s 10am, it must be swim time.
The daily dip is as much part of Skala’s lesbian culture as the appropriation of Sappho’s sexuality, and the tourism industry that has grown around it.
Yes, Sappho, the lyric poet — Plato named her the Tenth Muse, bless him —she was born in Eressos.
She died here too, but of course nobody knows if she swam to the rock.
Could she swim, with that stylus poised in front of her lip, and a writing tablet glued to her left hand?
She’d have been hamstrung, that’s for sure.
You can’t imagine her emulating the strapping lass who sliced through the sea in 4mins 10 and, on reaching The Rock, turned round to see hapless heads and arms bobbing in her wake.
Generally though, The Swim to The Rock is a social swim.
Miss F told you last year, as she paddled along next to a gasping and unfit you, that she and Miss T started The Swim to add to the spectrum of activities for the women in Skala.
Her swimming cap was turned up at the ears.
It is a chance to exercise, she said, have fun and to do something that doesn’t result in a hangover, a babalas as we say in RSA.
When you’re a first timer, and you’ve finished your swim, Miss T will line you up with the other swim virgins, and someone – everyone, goddamit, it’s the digital age – everyone will take a photograph.
You’re standing there dripping and Miss T lowers a medal over your wet head.
You bow to accept the Sappho Siren Award for Excellent Swimming, a laminated square of paper hanging on a piece of cotton.
There’s that picture of Sappho on it.
You got yours during the Sappho International Women’s Festival in September last year, and you don’t know if every new Rock Star gets one.
But you do recall the words of Miss F during your first swim.
When’s it going to end, you panted, treading water and catching your breath.
She smiled, and uttered words as sweet as a kiss: “As we say, this swim isn’t a race … it’s all about the journey we take, together.”

The Traveller by Afrodykie

O is for … Oops … and P is for … Plateia
YES, you don’t post Wednesday’s blog, oh oh oh oh dear.
You do try though, to write it, sitting on a step in Mytiline, your feet on the pavement, your back against a glass door.
The motorbikes race by, and the words stick somewhere you don’t know where.
The trip to the harbour city, Lesvos island’s capital, is cacophonous and cruel.
It’s a jolting journey into mayhem.
Chaos. Bustle bustle. The tarmac bites your feet. It swallows your soul.
Up and down. Shopping. Waiting. You sweat in silence.
The pollution, the gypsies ragged and menacing, they trawl the car park, their long fingers itch — itch to crawl into crime any crime they can grab and devour.
Their eyes burn bright in dark faces, eyes that flit from side to side, even the children’s eyes slide quick non-stop into a perpetual seeking seeking.
Unkempt hair, matted rods of dry neglect, they poke the heat.
You carry your computer in a rucksack. Scared.
A rent-boy emerges from the morass and slings a bag over his shoulder.
His hair is neat, coiffured into a catwalk style.
The brand on his underpants peeps over the belt of his fashionable shorts.
He strides determined focused to his job.
Shirtless is good in the body business. He doesn’t look back. Not once.
You prefer the village, your village, Eressos.
Where the plateia, the square, it offers generous respite.
You’re sitting there. You get a whiff of the sea.
That’s unusual, 4km from the ocean.
You turn around and see a big bag of round sea urchins, their black spikes protrude, a halo of danger if you’re not careful.
There are about five men at a table, at Kafene.
Maria, they shout, and Maria brings ouzo in little bottles, and bread in a basket.
They slice off a third of the needled shell with a kind of clamp, a silver tool.
It smoothly executes the animal, the sea hedgehog.
Then they wipe out the orange pink strands of the star shaped flesh inside the glistening light-striped shell.
They capture the meat with the bread, or a finger that removes it all in a twirl.
One of them pours the juice of the creatures into his palm, to slurp the aphrodisiac.
You want to try, one man asks.
You eat five, ten of these and two men won’t be enough for you.
You wish!
The plateia.
You go there when your transport to collect your desks falls through.
Two men at Portakali help you.
One, two, three.
They organise a car and helpers and within an hour you have a comprehensive work space at home.
The plateia is like that, the networking nub of the village.
It lights up at night, magic under the huge plane trees. It twinkles.
Vento your hunting dog loves going there too.
She runs around and wags her tail and gets bones and food from the people at the tables.
She likes Sam’s. That’s her favourite place.
You’ve written your telephone number on her collar, just in case.
But nobody phones anymore. She’s part of the plateia now, your Vento, the wind of your heart.

The Traveller by Afrodykie

The Traveller by Afrodykie
N is for … Nice
IT’S for nipples too, those twin towers of titillation, the edifices of the erotic.
They give a point to a breast and remind you of a story from the 80s.
There you were having an affair with a married woman who’d recently given birth.
She had a nice bed, one of those four poster things, and lived in a house with big sash windows and creaking wooden floors.
The passage was a long one, thank God.
And the front door at the one end of it was a monster, huge.
In its swathes of wood there was a lock.
It needed a six-inch key to be jiggled around in it, before it would open.
For this you are eternally grateful.
She made sure it was securely shut, and unbuttoned her blouse.
She winked at you, and giggled.
Her husband was at work. The baby was gurgling dreams in his cot.
We looked at each other, but not for too long.
Clothes flew, like popcorn jumping from a pot.
It was a great opportunity for some rumpy-pumpy, yes it was, on the ample marital mattress.
The baby didn’t budge but boy, did we sweat the fuck fandango.
Her breasts were sensitive, all that feeding.
No chance to tweak them, or to roll them between your fingers.
Nipping and nibbling? NO!
Suck them, she gasped, and stroked you hair.
Her hands anchored your head and your lips, your murmuring mouth, it clasped her teats, again and again.
It was sublime, that mother’s milk. Tasty, sweet.
You nearly said mama but a key rattled in the door.
You jumped out of bed and grabbed your clothes. The milk ran down your chin.
Your underwear hung from your hand.
You reached for the window and it went whoosh — just as the door banged open onto the wall.
You tiptoed, a love thief, down the side of the house, outside.
Your heart raced as you clambered over the garden fence and scoured the pavements for a witness.
You hadn’t said goodbye.
So what?
Hubby liked to work a lot!

The Traveller by Afrodykie

M is for … mmmmmm
THERE is a lot that makes you go mmmmmm.
You can’t help it.
Blue night moon rise, stars shadow brown eyes.
Pink slinks across the sky. Ah.
There’s oily water, with people in it, splashing or floating about.
The round ripples grow, bob, fade.
The life of ripples is short. Even in the Kalloni Gulf.
They sink without a sound, embrace deep eternity; they melt into the warm depths then disappear.
You’d never know they’d lived, if you hadn’t seen them.
She orders for you, in Greek.
What’s going on?
It’s those things you like, she says.
You limp across the wet tiles to choose your fish.
Your toe hurts, the big one on the left foot.
A brick smashed into it – a huge brick — from a dizzy height. It split the skin, and bruised or broke the bone.
You don’t know.
The music is loud. Some men are swirling around broken plates, bending forward.
Their arms wave in their air behind them.
Octopus arms it seems, floating in a sea of culture.
Some lovers, in the distance, they face each other.
Their big stomachs touch as they stand, feet secured in the sand.
You can hear their hearts aflutter, you feel their lips burst with promise.
Gosh, there’s the arrow of desire aiming for a kiss.
The meal is tasty and plentiful, shared.
The fresh oysters (that’s what you like, she knows) they wince when you squirt lemon juice on them.
Little oysters in scallop shells, the shells you collect.
You want to put them on the wooden window frames you two found at the stinky rubbish bins, beautiful in the sunset of a Sunday.
She encourages you to be creative.
And you like that.
Today your toe is sore, and you feel tired.
You want to lie down.
The cleaner must come so you can rest on your pillow and know.
Love can last forever in a memory.