Thursday, October 28, 2004


The first day I was in Meteora, coming back from the Grocery store, I met a white mother dog, her teats were huge and hanging. She was followed by a fluffy black and white puppy. The puppy was slow and taking every opportunity to lay down. The Mother heard the crackle of the bags and came to see if I had any food. Unfortunatly, I had nothing that I could feed to them. I tried grapes but they weren't interested. I gave them both some lovin; the puppy seemed particularly slow. I picked her up and saw she was covered in fleas. I thougth about what I could do to help. The only thing I had was a bar of Burt's Bees Rosemary Shampoo soap. I broke the bar in half and used the rest of my water to lather her up and wash away what I could. In the meantime the mother had gone and come back. When I was finished, the puppy seemed much more attentive: she was no longer trying to hide behind a tree; her tail was wagging, and she was lapping up water. The mother cleaned her up and off they went; the puppy much more spry than when I had first seen her. Many people were surprised by my actions. 'Why?' they would ask. Why not? She deserves to be as happy and clean, if only for a day or two.

Many days later, I saw the mother dog again. This time she was without her puppy. My hope is that someone saw that cute, sweet, clean baby girl and took her in.

This, however, is the story of another young stray; one that brought tears of joy and sorrow to many in the campsite.

Iza and Sylwek were walking home from Kalabaka one day when they heard a rough meowing. On the side of the road was a kitten, about 3 weeks old, covered in flies. It's little voice was so hoarse that it could hardly croak. Without a second thought, Iza scooped him up and brought him back to the campsite. When I saw them later on, they were trying to feed this darling little thing some watered down warm milk. Soon he had three moms. Sylwek was a little iffy about the whole situation, and the fact that Iza is allergic to cats, but he soon came around.

That day, Iza and I went back to the spot where they had found the kitten, hoping to find his mother. We had no luck. Everytime we saw a cat we would see if it was male or female and try to get the cat to take the kitten in. The first night the kitten spent the night with me in my tent because of Iza's allergies. I didn't mind. I was very cautious about not rolling on him and would wake up whenever I was moving.

The next morning, Sylwek found the perfect name for the kitten: Alfa [I had drawn the beer logo ALFA in Greek letters on Sywek's forearm with henna]

I had made a sling out of one of my sarongs and we were carrying Alfa around in that. Most of the time, when he was in the sling, Alfa would sleep. We would let him down on the ground and watch him waddle about. Once he shook his head and fell onto his side.

Iza and I were determined to find either his mother or a mother cat to adopt him. We searched all around the campground and that was when we realised that most of the strays that hung around were males. The first morning we had him, Iza and I split up. I ended up in the neighbouring fields meowing like a cat in the hopes that I would find a female. What a sight I must have made, parading about with a sarong sling, mewlling, rubbing a little bump in the material, looking all around along the fences and trees! When I was heading back to the common area, I found Iza,excited, she had been looking for me. She told me that she had found a female. We rushed back, and there was the little orange stray sucking on the young grey stray's nipple. However, upon closer inspection, we realised that the young grey was in fact a male. What an odd scene, once we understood, we just laughed.

The local Greeks, our friend Kostas included, were telling us to put him back out on the street. Leave him and his mother will come back for him. The stray population in Greece is phenominal, most locals pay no attention to either cats or dogs. They have a term for the animals, street dog/cat, and most of the time they ignore them, however; when one gets too close, either begging, or hanging about, they think nothing of it to give them a push, smack or boot. To the Locals, the animals seem to be everyday nuissances.

Silently, Iza, Sylwek and I agreed that more than likely the mother was not coming back, that the best place for Alfa was with us. The next dilema was: What do we do with Alfa once we leave Meteora? I would have brought him home with me, but I still had a good month left of travelling. Kostas declined our offer of a free pussy companion, saying he was not home enough to take care of it. Eventually, the plan became that Iza and Sylwek would take the kitten back to Katerini, where Sylwek's sister lived, and find a good home for him there before they flew out back to Germany.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Back in Canada

Well my adventures overseas have now come to a halt. I shed tears everyday. I miss the sun and the warmth and the simplicity of life in the Med. My brother picked me up at the airport and then took me grocery shopping. I was a perfect copy of Niagara Falls. I would stop and look at the price of the produce, " $11.00 for 2 kilos of tomatoes! What a rip off!" I would walk down the aisles for cereal, and see all the choices and just keep on walking. I would cry because I couldn't make up my mind over a can of mushrooms because there were too many to choose from. I am still overwhelmed. I cried the other day because a woman in a car stopped to let me cross the street!

Both of my animals have put on the kilos that I took off. Because of the Jet lag, I'm up early and Tanner and I go out to the Commons. I remember why we don't play frisbee in the winter. He catches it once and the plastic cracks because it is so cold.

I was talking to my friend KOSTAS yesterday. Bloody 28 degrees at 20:00 in Kalabaka! Climbing in T-shirts. While I'm here in this bloody cold country trying to decide how many layers to put on.

I'm on the job hunt. I have faxed off tons already and am in the process of pounding the pavement. My favourite free internet space has been indefinetly closed until the building gets a new roof. Lucky me!

There are still many stories left to tell and now I will try to focus on those. Hopefully I will be able to finish the one titled Alfa before my time runs out.

I am home once again... so for those who wish to call me... 431-4043/ 802-2378. I don't have any money on my cell. but you can still leave messages and I can retrieve them while I'm out.

Monday, October 11, 2004

In Amalfi

I've been vegging in Amalfi for the past few days, working on my tan, visiting with the boys, and staring at those rock faces in the back ground. Nice!
Nothing to much more to report, I'm just taking it easy, relaxing and getting ready for my return home.
In the middle of the evening, all was dark and I got on the bus and as we were driving along the coast, I remembered why I believed Amalfi is the most beautiful place in the world.
For me, Amalfi is a relaxing spot to stretch out, take your time and walk up and down bloody steps!
I miss Greece. I'm glad I made the pit stop here though, Somewhere familiar and beautiful. I'm not so sad now.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Leaving Grece

I'm in Patras, 2 hours away from leaving Greece. For Now. I want to cry, but am trying hard not to. I'm thinking about the positive things: I'm going to visit Willy. On the train here, I was making notes about all the quirks and quarks of Greek life from my perspective. When I get home, I will write them up on my blog. Not right now there are just too many.

Last night's crossing, from Heracklion to Pireaus was pretty rough. It was also quite unique because the police were escorting a bunch of criminals/prisoners, and we were all in the same room. I was thinking: "what if one trries to escape?", "what if I flirted with one of them?" , "what if I flirted with one of them and tried to help them escape?" You know me, letting my imagination wonder to pass the time.

Thanks to every wise ass (like you R the Bruce) who comments. I enjoy them all! I feel like I'm not just writing to dead space, that someone out there is reading. Wether or not they enjoy is their problem; I do like to know that there is more out there. Right Hal?

On the train today, I had a great conversation with a man named Kostas (not the one from Kalabaka) He's a recovering alcoholic. I can only try to imagine how hard that is, particularly in Greece! He spent two years in England so his English was pretty good. It was fun, we had interesting talks about different things. One that has been pestering me the most is: "Why is it that only tourists go to those special sites in the cities that we live in?" I've been to the Citadel only a hand ful of times, only with people who are visiting Halifax. I've never been to the Dingle. How many go to Peggy's Cove without someone from away? You know make a day of it. He lives in Korinthos, has never been to the site. He lives so close to Meteora, Delphi, etc. and he's never been. I've never thought of going on the Bluenose. Never been to the Ovens. Yet I've been to the Vatican, The Acropolis, Venice and Delphi. Why are we more likely to visit those far off places than those in our back yard? Is it because i's exotic? Is it because we become imune? Do we just assume that one day I will make it there; I'm so close, that I have to get there eventually? I have put it in my itinerary to visit a musuem in Halifax a week. On Free tuesdays of course. But just because they are there and I should take advantage of it!
Yesterday, I visited the Archaeology musueum Of Crete. It's all Minoan/Cretan artifacts. It was interesting;particularly with the pottery paintings. seeing the influence of the landscape in what they drew, and later on, when the mainland started having an influence. There were some really interesting pieces too. Like the Serpent Goddesses, The Bull Vessel, ... There was also jewellry. Ever since my mother has started collecting jewellry, I have started to notice things more and more. I have a better appreciation for it, and now wear the odd piece. Anyhow. The gold is so thin and fine, it looks like it will break if you blow on it. People wore it though. The museum has also recently acquired the King Minas ring. What a piece for my mother's collection!
I was in Monastraki early this morning, bumming around with a couple of hours to kill and men had blankets on the ground and were selling their old stuff. I haggled with one guy: a rhinestone brooch (some of the stones are faded but all are intact, an oyster? shell surrounded by silver to turn it into a case, a silver evil eye charm, and a Canadian quarter from 1909 for 13 Euro. The case itself I'm sure is worth more than that. He also threw in a ring and a charm that I don't think are real silver. Guess what you are getting when you get home mom?
My status as the Goddess of Tripping still remains unchallenged; if there is a crack, ledge, anything really, I will find it. It's always bigger when I'm in a big crowd of course. I try to laugh it off.
The other day I was walking to visit with Iro and Dennis one last time, when as I was passing by a building with a big yard and fence, a woman started sraying the ledge with a high powered hose. One side of me got soaked. I made a squeak, she stopped, looked at me (I could tell she was trying not to laugh), I put my hands together and clapped. "Bravo!" I said. She and another worker both started laughing as well. Iro told me later a Greek women would have started cursing her out. I see no use: she was doing her job, I didn't get hurt.
I guess I will write again when I am in Amalfi!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Kreta? Malaka!

I can't say that I have had the most positive experiences on this island. After posting my last comment, I went back to my tent, ate supper and went to bed. Of course I was planningto go to the Gorge the following day. And no mom and Lisa, I did not sleep in... WORSE!
I woke up in the middle of the night with the worst cramps! They were so bad, I couldn't stand up straight. I hobbled to the bathroom (remember the hole in the ground) and tried to go to the washroom. I have never seen so much shit come out of a body before. (Mom, you can stop laughing now!) Not only that, I'm cramped up over the bloody hole, hoping I'm aiming right, wondering what I shall do if I start puking? After an agonising time had passed; my legs were now cramped up to. I tried to walk, no luck. I tried laying on a bench. That worked long enough to get me halfway back to the tent. I don't know how I managed to fall asleep, but I did.

Oh I forgot to mention that the campsite is situated right next to a Kareoke Bar. Great if you are my mother; bad if you have to listen to her, or people as tone def as her. I had to try to go to sleep to that. (That's probbly what gave me the cramps!)

Suffice it to say, the following day I did not go to the Samarian Gorge. I decided to stay in relative proximity to civilisation in case I had a reoccurance. I decided that since being in Europe, I haven't really had a beach day, so I would go to the beach! Well I went, all prepared, food, water, sunscreen, sarongs... I jumped into the water, coughed up a mouthful, cursed because I always forget how nasty salt water tastes and decided that was enough swimming, now for the beach. So I suntanned topless! Just because I could. I was careful and put sunscreen on my breasts and belly, because they haven't seen a lot of sun this year. Well I thought my back would be okay. I have to carry my bloody 20 ton backpack today and it hurts. I burnt mostly around my waist and of course my ass.

This island loves me... I'm glad I'm gone in an hour. I will come back someother time, and hopefully be able to appreciate the island for what it is worth. Besides a lot of pain. Gotta go catch a ferry!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Hania - Crete

I arrived in Crete this morning and decided to go to the camping. Well.... the guide book says that I take a bus to Stavros and it leaves every twenty minutes. You know Greek directions... It took asking a good six people before I actually found the bus station. 7:30, I asked the guy about the bus to Stavros. He said "10:00". There goes the every twenty minutes! I decided it would be faster to walk there then sit around with nothing open! So I walked... and walked... and walked, loaded down with 2 backpacks. Finally, about an hour later, I made it to the camp site. When I walked into the reception area, the girl looked at me and said that she thought she had seen me walking up the road. I told her that indeed, that was me! Wow! Her eyes bulged and she said, "you walked 3 km from Hania? Why didn't you take the bus 21, it runs every 20 min." At least I made it before 10:00, and now I don't have to walk back and forth to and from town, like in Kalabaka!!! That is when I didn't have a drive from Kostas, or at least when he didn't forget me at the internet.

[aside: Kostas likes tall, blonde, blue eyed, well proportioned women. If interested e-mail him with picture at Did I mention he climbs rocks?]

I have never seen so much backgammon played! All you hear walking down the street is rolling dice. And they don't play the way Joachim plays backgammon. May I congratulate Joachim who, not only when he goes to Athens for Christmas to visit family, will be attending the weddings of bothe of his brothers, and will be an uncle in the new year!!! I saw Dennis and Iro before I left Athens and she told me the awesome news. Dennis wants a boy, of course, but its a girl and I predicted it first!

Crete is nice and hot!!! Like August. I have to constantly remind myself that it's October. The campground I'm at is a lot smaller than Kastraki's. You don't know how good you've got it until it's gone. Here, there is hard rocky ground, the kitchen is in a small hut, there are no communal dining areas, and the bathrooms, although they are clean have only those bloody holes in the ground and no toilet paper. At least I still have a couple half roles that I pilfered from Kastraki.

Now , there are varying degrees of bathrooms in Greece: 1st is the typical N american bathroom with a toilet and seat; 2nd is the bowl minus the seat; 3rd are the holes in the ground with steps on the side so you know where to place your feet. The holes confuse me the most. They are not so bad if you have a skirt on; but to maneuver with shorts and pants, trying not to pee or shit on your clothes while also attempting to aim your discarded materials somewhere near the hole, is an art that I am not yet the master of.

I bummed around Hania today. Tomorrow I am off to the Samaria Gorge for a 6 hr (the guide book says) which for me means 1o. At least I am hoping to leave on the early bus so that I don't have to sleep in the woods or on the beach again. At the end, the gorge empties into the ocean. I will swim and lay on the beach until the very last moment. I haven't really done any of that since I got here, 7 weeks ago.

There is also a nice beach by the campsite with short cliffs that I was eyeing. I might just take the shoes that Kostas gave me and the sling that Volker gave me and do some free/solo climbing. Don't worry, it's only like a III+. As if the Goddess of misplaced steps can't handle that.