The Traveller by Afrodykie

F is for … (scratches head) um … frolic

YES. Frolic, it’s a lovely word.
It has a child-like quality: to play merrily. Gambol.
A sunny innocence prevails, in fun.
It smiles it’s so light-hearted, open and unguarded.
The word laughs with an inherent and beautiful joy.
You feel it, deep deep inside, the meaning of it.
It is the essence of you.
Frolic.
The happy beautiful child, it romps in the bright light of love, self love.
You like it, a lot.
This emotion, it’s a manifestation, an acceptance, an inherent celebration of the intrinsic you.
You revel in it, this innate and fulsome joy.
You hold it close. Close.
Frolic.
It’s a clean slate, a springboard, a refuge.
It’s yours. A treasure, everything.
Frolic.
It lives.
A gleaming sun, it glows — from deep deep inside, the terrible place too, where shadows rise.
(ends)

The Traveller by Afrodykie

E is for … Eressos
THE heat is on, and the clothes are off. You’re baring all too, as you always do. Grin and bare it.
That’s your motto for the summer! Cheeky.
The sun slaps your arse. Yes, a red bum’s fun. And you’re not the only one with an all over tan.
The signs are explicit, all two of them. Nudity is forbitten, they say, very sternly, in Greek and English.
Of course, nobody in Eressos can read. Or else the relentless sun blinds them. Or else their hair’s been whipped across their eyes by this cracking and cruel wind.
Gale force.
Umbrellas buckle and turn inside out, beach tarpaulins shudder, tethers strain to free themselves from sand-filled plastic bottles.
Who cares? Nobody.
There’s the placid Aegean to plunge into if you seek relief. Brown bodies wallow in it quite nicely, thank you. Splish splash.
Then they float, fancy free. Windsurfers streak across the ocean’s choppy surface. Fast. Bounce.
The village and Skala are busy. They’re plump with potential, with people, people who come back again, and again. Hug and kiss. Embrace.
The summer’s shifting gears. It’s warming up for a searing August. Everything’s fuller, fatter.
The tents, also forbitten, are springing up metres from the sand, for a mahalla sand in your hair holiday. The bamboo and palm leaf rooms, they’re being erected too … one in your favourite spot near Sappho’s rock, on the beach.
It’s an elaborate thing, with a generous porch, enclosed against the wind.
Families, hippies, children, you name it, everyone’s heading for the beach, to swelter in the sun.
Yes, the world comes to Eressos, in summer, the world and tra la la the big spending Athenians.
It’s that sort of place, Eressos.
So swathed in summer you can feel its pulse.
Yes, it drips desire, and you want some.
Ela, agapi mou!
(ends)

The Traveller by Afrodykie

D is for … Guess

HA HA. That’s funny, hey?!
Yes, D is for a lot of things, but mostly desire, dancing and delicious.
Desire? Uhoh … that pesky little beast of banality, it just won’t behave.
Sit, you say, sit!
Grrrr, it says, GRRRRRRR.
There’s just no end to its insistence.
It’s doing its damndest to make you move but you don’t know.
You can’t see a signpost. No, not anywhere, not even on the quiet roads where kindred spirits manifest —- in your fertile imagination.
You lope along being you, and talk to your hunting dog Vento.
Dammit, you scower the horizon but your desire is all at sea, floundering…
The shopkeeper laughs when you sit alone to enjoy the Greek dancing, the school’s end of the year performance in Eressos Square.
She will come, she will come, he says, narrowing his eyes as he draws on a cigarette.
You love the dancing, and the music that goes with it. There’s a new moon and the entire village it seems, is watching the performers.
First, the carefree little ones, full of gusto and awash in the innocence of cherubs.
They know their moves and sync their steps, sort of.
They’re followed by the group that exhibits an awkward restraint.
Budding breasts and gangly legs get in the way of nonchalance but oh, what beauties.
The seniors, well, you recognise some ex-pats in the dancing group and they seem too cerebral in their movements, not enough give in the knees, you know.
Nevertheless, it’s a lovely evening, and then it’s time for delicious.
You have a yawning taste for warmth, and sweetness, so your honey milk and cinnamon, she takes you to bed. Your delightful dairy belle.
(ends)

The Traveller by Afrodykie

C is for … corner … also the one you have turned                                

THERE’S a taverna for just about every day of the week on Eressos Square, ok granted, a short week of four days.

 There’s life on the cobbled stones, sometimes more sometimes less.

The’re always fish sellers shouting over their loudspeakers, and the walruses are plonked, as usual, on their assets at Kolones.

Their Greek coffees thicken to mud at the bottom of tiny cups. Do they care, these rotund dons of the erstwhile drachma. No.

Even their lips don’t move.

At Kafene, your office, the internet fiends blink at their screens under one of the huge plane trees that shade the square.

A local, one of the people who empties the bins, he walks in panting, and helps himself to a 500ml beer from the fridge.

The beverage, whatever the brand, comes in half litre bottles.

Anything less doesn’t touch sides at 30 deg C, and rising — and it’s just 11am.

Other mavens of the good life the easy life, they do crossword puzzles, or simply sit and read, their frothies at alert.

It’s a good place to be, Kafene, if you don’t know the town, and even if you do.

Yiannis will raise his eyebrows, in his own Eureka moment, and tell you who fixes computers, who’s got a house to let, who’s who in the zoo — for whatever you need.

Next door, at the taverna run by a woman – a woman!, younger men sit flicking worry beads backwards and forwards over their hands.

They haven’t perfected it yet, that passive pose, but hell, the intention is obvious!

At Sam’s – Sam who gave you vegetables from his garden — at Sam’s on the opposite side of the square, regulars slap down backgammon discs from yellowed finger tips. Tobacco smoke twirls above their heads.

They sit in the shade and plant their feet at right angles to the chair legs. They’re open at the knees.

Yes, they stare too, but their mouths sort of open and close.

They flutter, a bit, when they shift in their seats to plot their next moves

All very good, but it’s time for a change, time for a yiro where the hill flattens out into the straight road to Skala.

Bingo! It’s the perfect spot for a delicious and cheap meal (E2), and you can watch the passing parade from your chair on the pavement.

It’s as dead as a door nail, GB in Joburg says when you post a picture on Facebook.

Wrong! Everyone who comes in and out of the mountain village passes here.

There’s movement at least every five minutes — at peak hour!

Take the grey-haired couple on a clapped out scooter.

They’re travelling uphill and the vehicle starts to complain. It slows down. The man, in front, steadies it on his tippy toes.

His passenger, well, she’s sitting side saddle behind him. Very demure!

She’s not even holding on to him and sort of slides off the saddle to retrieve her shopping bag in the crate on the back.

The driver revs the engine and leaves, without so much as a twitch of his ample moustache.

Then there’s another motorbike, chugging up the hill. The bloke on it urges it forward.

He’s leaning over the handlebars but the bike’s going so slowly he’s almost got to get off and push!

Other vehicles whip back and forth. You’re starting to recognise a lot of the people.

Ah, the tomboy on her two wheel mean machine, so black it glints in the setting sun.

Then there’s a guy in a clapped out red car, with no back window.

Castro he shouts, waving his arm.

And then the schoolgirls … four of them … so lithe in their long legs and short shorts.

They glide along the asphalt, they lead with their hips and kick their feet out in front of them.

They talk to each other in whispers, in glances from the sides of their eyes.

The words peep out from under their lowered lashes. O youth … resplendent in summer’s heat.

You’ve finished your yiro and It’s time to go. But alas, the shopkeepers don’t have change.

Never mind. Pay another day, they say, and decline to note your telephone number.

That’s Eressos, old school Eressos too — and you love it.

(ends)

The Traveller by Afrodykie

B is for … no-no, not butch … it’s for Bins

GREEN wheelie bins are an integral part of the Eressian landscape.

They’re parked in random rows of about three, four or five, these visible sentries of stink.

They pop up anywhere, even on the gravel road outside the village, ugly things, without lids, and they get uglier and smellier the fuller they become.

Overflowing they are hideous! An eyesore and blight on this rugged agrarian landscape.

The bees and flies love them though, and so do the gangs of feral cats that guard each line as their private territory.

They stand their ground, these felines. They hiss with plastic bags hanging from their bad teeth, their eyes turned up to view the dogs who charge at them

Silly dogs, they invariably have to back off. The cats don’t budge.

They are intent on tearing apart the bags, vehemently. They won’t let go, not for anything.

 They know what they want: food.

One-eyed cats, scraggly straggly cats, cats with black noses, — yes, they have black tips on their noses the bin cats – they slink close to the ground, prowling, heads turn this way and that.

They protect their bounty, on their turf.

The Kaftan One, she points out their black noses to you, the Kaftan One who joined the Europride parade in Oslo this last weekend with Maria, her grandchild. Miss Muscles and Krolle were also there, and The Grunter.

Ah, your Norwegian friends. You miss having them here, to cook for, to love.

But you can’t miss a trip to the bins.

Oh no. Everything goes in or around those bins: all, all the waste from the house, including human waste, even mattresses and old chairs, tiles, discarded toilets, fish heads and entrails, you name it.

Yes. Mediterranean plumbing demands that you put your soiled toilet paper in a plastic bag and dispose of it yourself. Of course, you — everyone, even the tavernas, or any place you go – you let the receptacle next to the lavatory get full before you tie the bags handles and lob them into the greenies.

One old duck dressed in black, bent back and bandy legs, you see her leaning on her walking stick, about 6m from the bins near your place.

She’s not taking any chances. She twirls her bags — one, two, three four — and lets them spin through the air towards their landing place.

Yuk. The bags spray their contents and land splat on the ground.

The startled cats shudder then pounce.

They’re so at home at the bins that they sometimes recline on the detritus.

Comfortable. The kings and queens of the reeking castles.

They watch you as you walk by, each cat more dishevelled than the next, each cat smugger than the other.

It’s as if they’re saying bin there done that. But you’ve never heard one miaow.

Ps: You’re on your way home from your morning walk with Vento today and there’s Sam, from Sam’s on the square. He’s in his vegetable patch. He gives you beetroot, cucumber, green pepper, carrots. You’re eating from the soil of Eressos he says.

You love it. Eressian generosity. It’s a culture.

Ask the cats!

(ends)

 

The Traveller by Afrodykie

A is for Abundance
WHEREVER you look, there is soooo much to see!
Fruit, flowers, butterflies, bees. Seagulls. Swallows and swifts.
A big big sky so blue it baffles the eye.
Olive trees feed their dangling offspring, new oblong olives — sort of light green — they grow bigger every day. They cling to their nurturers.
The old branches bend, weighted in their burgeoning bounty, winter’s harvest savours summer.
Grapes hang in heaving bunches, they swell to meet their potential sweetness.
And the valleys, oh the valleys on Madame’s sea rock walk, they’re dressed in polka dots of purple and pink. The vivid colours sprinkle brightness on a canvas that’s Karoo-like in its sameness: stubbly bushes, rocks.
Here though, there are mountains too, jutting monuments to their earth’s convulsions, an upheaval that shaped the island and gave it its healing waters, its shape.
The flowers!
Exquisite, tender, so delicate are they, so pretty.
They open slowly, something like love. They take a while to reveal their fulsome unique beauty. Patience. Every day they show a bit more.
Their faces wave in the wind, bow and bob. Slowly they lift the veil, curl from closed to open.
There’s a yellow carpet of fallen petals, a trim of goodbye on the side of the road.
Then a sight you didn’t imagine — hundreds of butterflies, hundreds of them on a mound of bush that resembles giant lavender.
The butterfly wings clap, quicken in their delight. They hover on the lilac, suck on the quivering spikes.
They are there for only one day, with the bees their companions humming to make honey.
Abundance.
Even now the cherry truck is in the square and the plums fall to the ground.
Everyone’s popping them into their mouths.
Despoina at Kafene gives you some, and so does one of the old ladies you met last week.
She’s sitting on her wall picking the fruit when she sees you with your packets of seedlings for her. She pops them into your hand, kindly mutters you feel you understand.
Abundance.
You hear so much too!
Cicadas at full throttle, the vendors shouting over their loudspeakers, the horses hooves that sound like soldiers marching on the cobble stones, the sheeps baas and bells, the hurrahs from the square when Greece scores a goal.
You love the laughs and cries of the neighbourhod children, the Greek music that sometimes plays loudly from one of the houses.
Then there’s the silence. It sprinkles quiet on the hot nights. It lulls you, holds you in its arms.
You smell the fresh air, the horse shit, the sheep shit, the dizzying fragrance of blossoms and blooms.
The food spreads it flavours into the air, the aromas drift lazily along the alleys, all the way to your ignorant nose.
You don’t know what’s cooking but you want to know. Sometimes you lick your lips.
Your teeth crunch into the crisp fresh fresh vegetables you buy at the greengrocer; flavours tickle your tongue.
And touch?
There’s the sand on your feet, yes, you feel that.
But you wonder … who will reach for the abundance, the love bursting in your heart.
Who will touch you.
(ends)

 

The Traveller by Afrodykie

Just another day in paradise
THE closed fences open like the sea of whatsit — it’s easy when you know how — and you, your hunting dog Vento, and her friend Ermie, you dance on the gravel road to Madame’s sea rock in the sky.

Skippity hop bee bop a loola.

It echoes, that rock. You shout Ela Vento, Ela Ermie. It talks back to you.

Yooohooo reverberates too, in a voice as old as the centuries.

The echoes spill from the mouths of millennia.

The dogs’ floppy ears flatten and fly behind their heads as they chase each other and jump for joy.

They brake and skid, and arch their backs in sudden turns that raise the dust, their robust bodies melt into the mists of eternity.

The sheep stop their side-ways munching, and stare. But they have very short attention spans.

The bells around their necks go klonk klonk as they drop their heads to feed again.

Yes, it’s a blue blue sky a loud cicada day. The wind breaths gently on your skin.

Is that a kiss, dear air?

You meet Lista from Sappho Estates.

You’ve fallen in love with a village wreck with no roof, ok a roof, but it leaks.

A grande dame this, once, in need of some urgent TLC — tender loving care. You can see she’s good-looking, even in her dishevelled dress.

And the garden! It’s a jungle of door-high grass and rose bushes stretch into forever.

Shrivelled fruit hangs from hungry trees.

Yet, dreams whisper there. They beckon shyly. They dare you, the winikng blighters, to embrace them.

Time will tell, of course — she always does — whether this audacious flirtation will grow into a happy marriage.

I do I do I do. Adieu?

For now, you cling lick a tantalising perhaps …

At home, you tie your red and white umbrella to your bicycle, with a plastic bag.

You freewheel, mostly, to DaLuz, through Skala to buy some water, and then you bounce over the turtle bridge, to the sand around the corner.

Your umbrella blows into the sea while you’re floating wallowing on your back in the embracing Aegean.

It glides along the water, a striped boat sailing bobbing to better days.

You chase to retrieve it, to return it to you spot on the beach.

It’s marked by a kikoi, a rucksack, a tuna salad from the DaLuz beach bar, and your book — the The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, perfect for the beach.

You try to insert the flighty thing into the sand but oh no, you’re an Eressos amateur, a rookie in the ways of this wonderland.

Let me learn you, says a dark-haired French woman.

She takes a rock and bashes the stem of the umbrella into the sand.

She has beautiful eyes and dark black hair. It curls around her smile.

Merci. Mercy.

Plastic water bottles filled with sand, they’re tied to the umbrellas; they anchor them and the lilos the women use to soften their sleepy sojourns on the sand.

They leave them there, day after day, night after night.

Just about every one is naked, of course, on this stretch of beach: the lesbians, the straight couples, some children.

Everyone’s comfortable in their birthday suits. Cocks, tits, scars, folds and fat. Cellulite, mastectomies, anything!

People bend over and happily show their where the sun don’t shine. But hell! Why not?

In Skala there’s tolerance and acceptance, and nobody stares.

Besides, many people have their noses buried in a book.

Yours is too, until you meet some friends, and chat and laugh. Fulsome frailties bared in mirth.

You try to follow the German …

It’s nearly 7pm when you ride your bike to the centre of Skala, where the taxis are.

But the drivers laugh when you indicate that they must load your bicycle in the boot for the trip up the hill to the village.

The prefects don’t co-operate, so you phone the headboy, Babis.

That gets them going.

Gregoris and another driver put the bike on some roofracks.

You laugh.

And so does Gregoris. 

(ends)

 

 

 

 

 

The Traveller by Afrodykie

Ch-ch-ch-changes
BREAKING news!
Your hunting dog Vento and you have been stymied by the unexpected appearance of not one, but two fences.
There you are, on your Sunday afternoon walk to the sea rock in the sky, and vaboom. Halt.
OK, they’re not exactly the sturdiest fences on the planet, and we get through one, but the main one, the one on the way to our favourite gravel road, it is impassable, even as rusty and rickety as it is.
Sheep are the priority here, cleary. Because now we hear the bells and the ba-ba-baas all the time.
The grazing lands have changed, obviously, and the sheep are so close we can smell them.
Never mind, Eressos is full of surprises. Nice ones.
The other day, you’re walking with Vento and her bouncy friend Ermie — the handsome short little chap in white socks and a black collar with silver dog bones on it — when a very old woman crooks her finger at you.
Kafe, you eventually understand her to say.
She’s pointing at a double door in a wall. She’s smiling, so beautiful.
She hands over a fragrant flower, one of several in her hands. You nod your head as you lean your nose into the bloom.
Yes, please. Thank you, you say (in Greek).
Inside, there is another wizened woman, and two younger women, one of whom is Ermie’s mom.
They’re all sitting in an intimate grotto, an outdoor kitchen.
You get slices of a light white bread, a boiled egg and triangles of a delicious hardish white cheese, from Mytiline, you’re told.
One of the younger women, an Eressian who lives in Australia, she makes a cup of coffee for you, homemade Greek coffee. It’s delicious, and so is the food.
If you get food, stay. If you get unkindness, go, says the older of the two sister who lives there.
She’s 94 and not the oldest person in the village — her eyes are clear bright pools.
She slides her skirt up to her breasts. You see milk white skin, smooth. Flawless.
No sex, she says. And her sister laughts. She disagrees.
She’ll enjoys sex anytime, she says, and laughs so heartily her gums shine.
Her age, however, is her secret.
Her sister gets a look of admonishment on her face. She’s pointing at your tattoos on your legs.
No, the church doesn’t like that, she says. And leans back into her chair.
Your body must remain as it was when you were born. Oh yes.
She wags her index finger at you.
They are deaf, the sisters, so the translator is shouting, we’re all shouting.
The 94-year-old, tattoos nothwithstanding, sings love songs to you, the old folk songs of love, says the translator.
They’re about you and your beauty, the translator says. You and love.
The singer knows many many of the folk stories, the songs, the jokes.
She sit there reciting poems too. Her facial expressions tell the story.
There’s a round loaf of bread rising in an oven just big enough to hold it.
The single kitchen tap starts leaking. It needs a new washer.
Someone will come and fix it, later.
The younger sister puts a basin under the tap while the older one knocks the bread out onto the counter, and pops another loaf into the oven. Their backs are bent, and their steps are small.
Ermie’s mom and the translator leave, to cook lunch for their husbands, they say.
You indicate to the sisters that you’ll bring some seedlings you’ve got growing at Miss T’s place, and plant them in their vegetable and herb garden.
Kindness resonates.
(ends)

The Traveller by Afrodykie

Sizzle sizzle, it’s the solstice
THERE she is, again. The blonde. The striking blonde.
You’ve exchanged knowing smiles at Kafene, for about two/three days now.
Souls speak all on their own, you know. They light up faces.
She sits and writes outside, in her notepad. Neatly and with no deletions.
You sit inside and focus on your computer. Type type type.
But on Thursday afternoon she comes zooting up the hill on a flashy fast scooter.
She turns off the ignition and swings her right leg over the seat, over the handlebars, you swear.
Black silk underwear — a titillating triangle — it gleams and pauses; it lights up the slow Eressian sunset.
Vaboom.
It blinds you, and the shopkeeper.
Even the walruses at Kalones, their coffee cups hang in mid air.
You gasp and say Phew, That’s Sexy.
Oh, everybody’s sexy, believe me, says the shopkeepr, and lowers his eyelids to hand a packet of dog food to you.
Flashy walks towards us — no, she floats goddamit. Are those angels you hear.
What’s that singing, those sweet voices, so tremulous in their rapt desire.
Are you in heaven.
Flashy buys an ice cream.
We meet again, she says to you, and bites into her ice cold treat.
You and the shopkeeper crack jokes, you know, kind of bawdy lewd locker-room jokes.
Double entendre hits Eressos! Levity, at last! Fun!
We’re all circling each other on the pavement in front of his shop.
You and he, you try to outsmart each other, to get her attention.
You’re all flirting like hell and laughing so loudly the whole square stops, and smiles.
You’d heard her say she works at the community centre.
What community centre, you ask.
The Osho Afroz centre, she says.
And licks her lips.
Do you like men or women.
The words patter out over the chocolate chunks dotted on her tongue.
I like you, you say.
Ha ha and drattykins. Her boyfriend’s arriving in August.
Striking? What does it matter, when it’s strike out — for the shopkeeper, and you!
(ends)

The Traveller by Afrodykie

When the going gets tough, the tough get going … to the beach!

YOU sit on your terrace and wave, and say yasou, and smile.

Your dog lies snoring at your feet.

You’re crying for the sea, the tranquil Aegean.

The village is hot. HOT.

And the temperature keeps rising. Rising.

Sweat hot. Suffocating.

No wonder everyone skedaddles to Skala for the summer.

No wonder the village is the winter village.

You’re finding it difficult to settle down. 

Things aren’t as you imagined, hoped they’d be.

You’ve got to do what’s best for you: put yourself in a place where you have company and a chance to swim every day; walk and talk, maybe.

Learn Greek, consistently.

You catch a wake up, to coin a particularly South African phrase, when you’re dancing with the Shake Your Toosh Sisters at the Flamingo Beach Bar in Skala on Friday night, full moon.

There’s no reason to isolate yourself in a house on the hill, far away from summer’s searing soaring passion.

You’re shaking your money maker, thanks James Brown. You’re thinking: enough of this self-imposed social exile.

Enough!

Dancing frees your mind, your soul.

There is no reason to be living like an imprisoned princess in a hilltop castle, no, not when you could be getting down and dirty at the seaside.

So!

You’re moving. And not only to the music.

You’re going back to the Kouitou Hotel.

Back to Vasi and Alex and chili con carne. And the art on the walls. And the cats, and the visitors.

And swims to the rock (with the wimmin), and walks and just about everything you can think of.

You’re going to immerse yourself in Summer in Skala.

Burn baby burn.

Stoic is one thing, but stupid is quite another, and you’re not stupid.

You’ve played your cards in the village, and you didn’t come up trumps, that’s for sure.

Shuffle shuffle.

You’re dealing a better hand for yourself. You have to.

Sooner or later, you’ll ace it, that’s for sure.

(ends)