Journal - Napló

Vlore - Istanbul

Posted on August 14, 2009 at 3:20 PM

On our way south from Vlore we got a ride from yet another dutch guy. He was heading south with his son to a DJ Tiesto concert on the beach in Dhermi. He was a teacher at a school for missionary kids in Tirane. We got to the concert, made a fire on the beach and sat up all night chatting away and listening to DJ Tiesto. Explaining why he believed in intelligent design he told the story of how he had found God. Listening to this with DJ Tiesto blasting away just down the beach was quite an experience.

Some days later we made it to Greece. After a series of coincidences, as always, we were dropped of in a town called N. Skioni on the Kassandra arm of the Halkidiki peninsula. We walked around a bit and spent some hours at a cafe with wireless internet. I had a very strange feeling when I got there. I kept getting visions of things that had happened to me as a child. Visions that I felt were somehow connected. I saw myself running out to the docks in the mid day heat. I remembered eating a squid at a restaurant in pursuit of a small cash reward from my father who wanted me to try new foods and not be so picky. I saw my family walking together at an intersection that looked curiously a lot like the one I was standing in at that very moment. I looked down the street and there I saw a hotel with a Norwegian flag. I realized that I had been in this tiny village many years ago on a vacation with my parents!

That night me and Peter played gin rummy on the beach outside the hotel. A game my mother had taught me on the balcony of a hotel room just above. We were joined by four dogs and had one of the most relaxing evening so far on the trip. The next morning we got up at five and went down to the docks. We had asked around the day before about when the fishing boats headed out to fish and had been told to be there at that time. After half an hour and four boats heading out to sea without us, we were invited by grandfather and grandson Sofokles to come out to sea with them. They had actually left the docs when they saw us waving and came back in to pick us up. We had talked to them the previous day so guess that is why they understood what we wanted.


We went some kilometers up the coast and started pulling the nets they had set the previous day. They had hundreds and hundreds of meters of nets. Seeing Sofokles senior working the nets was incredible. I guess 50 years at sea had taught him a thing or two. We didn't catch too much fish though. Maybe five or ten kilos of fairly small fish. But they seemed content with the mornings catch. I had been asking the younger Sofokles many questions about fishing and his life in N. Skioni. He always answered, but was never really enthusiastic. Then I asked how much the fish was worth. He smiled, said some words to his grandfather who then also put on a smile. Several minutes of vigorous arguing ensued before Sofokles junior turned to me and said: ?60 Euros?.

Some days later we found ourselves stuck in Thessaloniki. We had wound up there because the driver who gave us a ride north from Kassandra had insisted that we see something in the city. We saw a movie and I have to say that I have never payed so dearly to see one ever before. For each and every car that passed us where we were standing at a highway on ramp, my muttering about all the assholes in Thessaloniki was growing to new heights. At that point we had been trying to get out of the city for twenty six and a half consecutive hours. Twice we had got rides to a different location within the city and I don't know how many kilometers we had walked. (in the rain...) Nevertheless we were still trapped in the seemingly infinitely large industrial areas of Thessaloniki. We had spent the night at a gas station were every single driver we asked said he was going in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go. This was without exception. Considering that the highway went both ways I can't help but wonder if some of them might have been lying. So standing at this on ramp we were tired, sleepy, hungry and last but not least stuck. Just as I was at the peak of my grumblings about the nature of people in the area a truck pulled over. The driver of this truck proved for me once again that there are good people everywhere. This man was an angel. I told him this. The truck was transporting nine new cars to dealers in Kavala and Xanti. There was no space for us in the cabin, because the driver had his two sons with him, but this was no problem. He opened one of the cars, put our bags in there, then opened another one and pointed to me. ?You can be the driver? he said and smiled at me. It really was an absurd feeling to be sitting behind the wheel of a car in that way. Because we were very tired we quickly fell asleep in our very own auto piloted car. We wake up at a truck stop where he insisted on buying us food, coke, water and coffee. He even gave Peter a packet of cigarettes. When we got to where our roads parted he spent twenty minutes with us on the highway trying to get trucks to stop for us. This man really made an impression on me. Because he came at a point when I was really doubting the existence of any such man in the area, he not only restored my faith in good people, but made it grow much stronger than it was before.

Now we are in Istanbul We came last evening and met up with Ibrahim. He is a member of couchsurfing here and invited us to stay with him for some days. He came to meet us at Taksim square and prepared food for us which we ate in the traditional way on the floor. Today we are going to cook a traditional Hungarian dish for him. On Saturday he has invited us to come to a wedding with him. He has met neither the bride nor the groom in person. He only knows the groom through the internet, but was invited all the same Since we are Ibrahim's guests he says that naturally we are also invited. I guess Turkish weddings are big. He told a funny story of how he had once attended a wedding with some of his friends. They had come across it by chance and none of them knew anybody else at the wedding. This had been a conservative wedding and his girlfriend had been wearing a dress showing her shoulders. At one point a fight had broken out because some people on one side of the family had complained about how this girl was dressing. Something to which the other side of the family had told them to watch their mouths and not insult any of the guests. They had never met, but guests were guests!

Categories: English, Greece, by Kenneth

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2 Comments

Reply Répus
1:56 PM on August 22, 2009 
Jó újra látni! ;) (Good to see you again!)
Reply Gordon Means
4:57 PM on August 24, 2009 
It is one thing to be a fisherman. It is another to be the fish. Make sure that you do not end up in the latter category. Best of luck.