It is three years since I left my last corporate position, determined to launch into a less predictable and more adventurous lifestyle (*). Extensive traveling was not part of a formal plan – I did not have any plan anyway. I ventured into the unknown with a taste of fear in my mouth and a flame of faith in my heart, mustering the courage to dive into an intangible flow and let the current take me to vast oceans and new shores. Little did I know that I was about to turn into a modern (female) Ulysses, landing on several exotic countries and filling my travelogue with experiences I never thought I would have. And, as months passed by, traveling became not just an integral part of my identity (even though I had been a frequent traveler since childhood), but, mostly, an indivisible part of my consciousness. On a perpetual quest for Ithaca – the mysterious home which is permanently luring the voyager deeper into the corners of the psyche – I do not travel anymore for recreational purposes, nor for business: I travel to keep exploring myself through the heartbeat of the lands and the eyes of humanity. [Read more…]
The ancient marbles were suffused with sunlight and the heat echoed on the stones as I stood at the edge of the Propylon (the original entrance) of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods (*), looking down towards the Theatral Complex. A group of tourists was gathered in the orchestra (the center of the theater), droning around their guide who was gesticulating emphatically. They were a poor mock-up of the initiates that used to stand at the same place thousands of years ago; yet, within the, otherwise, empty archaeological site, their appearance bespoke the importance of the human presence and restored part of the lost vividness amidst the surrounding ruins. My gaze stretched beyond them in search of the eminent columns of the Hieron (the temple), but only the verdant strip of the island, surrounded by the blue ring of the sea, could be seen. The clusters of buildings where the mystic initiation ceremonies took place in antiquity were lying at a lower plateau, invisible from the viewpoint of the entrance. To reach them, one should keep walking downhill, in a wisely designed symbolic movement towards another world – the world where the chthonic gods reside – or, more importantly, towards an inner part of the person’s psyche where something unknown is to be discovered or something forgotten is to be retrieved. [Read more…]
Orion buckled his belt and, with his gigantic legs spread out in a straddle and his eyes eternally scintillating, he set off for another journey on the highways of the Athenian sky. The last remnants of sunset’s fuchsia were flurried away towards the island of Salamis. Some of the ancient marble ruins in the Acropolis area whispered their concluding lines before getting blanketed by night, others livened up on their pedestals illuminated by fame and lights alike, and young couples concealed their protracted kisses in the mystery of the twilight.
I meandered through the insular alleys of Anafiotika, whiffing the silk in the scent of the gazia trees, their honey-golden blossoms invisible in the dusk. The shacks of the neighborhood, humble and old, slanting against the sacred Rock of Athens, were silent: rickety shutters tightly shut, benches and chairs deserted outside locked doors, clay pots with flowers and basils trimly lined up next to whitewashed walls and stairs. A few scattered street lanterns placed under the protection of antefixes – little more than candle flames in a somber sanctuary – were whispering in faded amber hues. And everything was holy, for the grace of Goddess Athena was cascading from her temple overhead, and the rock itself, emerging not just from above and around but even from within the modest constructions, exhaled energy that was healing and invigorating at the same time.
Silence tiptoed through the rooms of my apartment in Athens and sat on the couch next to me, reaching out for my hand. I remained still, staring at the temporary “Christmas corner” – my first Yuletide decoration during the twenty years I have been living on my own – and preferred to refuse to acknowledge her existence. The three thuja plants I chose in lieu of the typical Christmas tree, ornamented with white lights, pine cones, and miniature wooden toys, surrounded by a number of Middle Eastern lanterns, gifts, and all the stuffed animals I could find, offered a cozy sight. The lights were not blinking; the vibration of their brightness though felt audible. Vanilla-infused buttery aromas emanated from piles of sweets on poinsettia-decorated trays. The clock on the kitchen wall thudded on every second, the fridge occasionally purred, and a very airy hum from the street reminded me of the presence of the world outside. I was finally back home. [Read more…]