Afroz, here I come!

Last evening in Athens. I pack everything, make a list of things not-to-forget in the morning, take a note of how to get to the airport. In the morning I am going to fly from Athens to Mytilini, the capital of the Greek island Lesbos. And from Mytilini, I will have to arrive to Afroz, my next destination and home for the next few months, around 80 km on the other side of the island.

To get to Afroz, one option would be to take the bus from the Mytilini airport. However, considering that the last bus of the day is scheduled some 20 minutes after my flight’s landing time, it is very probable I will miss it. If so, either I would have to take a 85 euro taxi or.. do not know yet. The people from the Afroz center told me that they will announce me if there is another person coming from Mytilini the same day, to share a taxi. After packing, I check my e-mail one last time: no news from Afroz – probably no one else is coming. It then occurs to me that I could stay one night in Mytilini and catch the next day’s bus – and probably one night of accommodation would be the same price or even cheaper than the taxi. I liked the idea of discovering this city, capital of the island of Lesbos – now, that I got used to staying a few days in one place, then packing, saying goodbye and going to somewhere else, the idea of stopping one night in Mytilini, finding a place to stay, unpacking, staying the night and leaving in the morning, did not even seem tiresome – the traveller in me seems to have got awaken. Last year, when returning to Bucharest at the end of my holidays in Afroz, I was surprised to see in Mytilini some very beautiful beginning-of-the-20th-century buildings, with an air of aristocracy, ease and holiday spirit. The idea of taking pictures of the city in the warm light of the afternoon sun instantly seduced me.

Thinking of Mytilini, I remember that one of my friends living on the island told me once that he knew somebody owning a little hotel in Mytilini. So I decid to write him and the Afroz center asking for information on accommodation in Mytilini and call it a night. Not really knowing where I will be sleeping the next night – but I find myself in peace with that. One thing I keep practicing in this trip: trying not to think about something that I cannot solve in that very second. Sometimes you don’t have enough information, sometimes it is just not the moment to take a decision, other times, even if you could decide in advance what to do, you don’t know what you would like more to do when the time comes. So I developed a kind of preliminary analysis of any problem that presents to me: is it anything I can do about it now? What? So when I have to plan something, to solve something, I do whatever I can do about it in that very moment. If nothing can be done, I take all the information I need and then I let it be. I don’t think about it anymore. To try to predict what would happen is just a waste of time. For instance, there is no need to try to think about whether or not I will catch the bus in Mytilini and what I would do if I don’t – there is no point in trying to decide what I will do tomorrow, in Mytilini, when me, I am here, in Athens, just finishing to pack. I will see it when the time comes. There is no need to worry about it or overthink it. I am sure what I have just wrote will bring a smile on the faces of my friends – people knowing me as a person who likes to plan, organize, make to-do-lists, trying to foresee how things would go and have a plan about it and – why not say it? – a somewhat controlling person. I am not pretending that this part of me has completely disappeared. Just that I am now tasting and practicing a new way of being, of living. And you know what? I am really enjoying it: just letting go, letting life unfold, giving up the control a little bit.

Well, having finished everything, I set my alarm clock and go to sleep. But I find I cannot fall asleep as easily as I usually do. I am tossing around, moving in bed, with a big smile on my face: I feel excited as a child before his first day of school! I don’t even know exactly why. Maybe in another post I will tell you more about my Afroz experience last year and the sense of freedom, joy and peace I felt then. But that was then, this is now. I was opened to the fact that this year I may not like it at all, that three months is a lot of time to stay in one place, that this year I would be working full time in the center, so maybe the feeling of it would be totally different… Well, if I don’t like it, I will leave sooner to Thailand or even back to Romania, if I feel like it! And that is all.

I finally fall asleep and wake up 3 minutes before the alarm rings. I close my luggage, eat and check my e-mail again – no reply from Lesbos. Well, I’ll see in Mytilini what to do. I give a last goodbye hug to my cousin and her beautiful little child and set off to the airport. I almost miss the bus station where I have to change for the metro: as the doors of the bus open, I ask “Metro?” to a guy with a big luggage near me (he must know!). He replies in English he does not know and another person going down says “Yes, yes, here, metro!”. I go down and after a few moments I hear behind me the guy with the big luggage: “Hello! Actually, I have to thank you: I was, me too, going to the metro, but did not know I have to go down there”. I find out he is French, back-packing for one month in Greece, going to Penepolis by train. We say goodbye at the metro and each go our own way.

I take the metro and, when almost to the airport, I get a telephone call from a Greek number and a voice says “Hi” in Romanian. I am confused at the beginning, but I finally understand it is the Romanian friend who is also working in Afroz for the summer. She tells me that Tameer, the person running the center of whom I have a wonderful warm memory from last year, is going to Mytilini by car to do some shopping for the center and that he could pick me up from the airport. I would just have to wait two hours or so. I take the number, I say many thank you-s and a very happy “See you soon!”. I close the telephone and I cannot help smiling, with my lips, with my eyes, with all my being. The old man in front of me must think I am crazy! I look at the window and smile, I look around me and I cannot seem to put my lips in a “normal” position. Not that I try very hard. I feel I am happy. And that the air around me is happy and vibrating with joy and gratefulness! Because it is sunny and warm, because I am going to a Greek island, because life has a way of solving everything (if you let it), because friends are waiting for me, because I feel protected and loved and taken care of. Because I love.. Not exactly sure what, but I do! :)

I finish writing this post in a taverna right next to the Mytilini airport, where I wait for Tameer. I see the sea across the street, olive trees and flowers, I look at the cats moving around me and the two children who are playing digging their hands in the grass and dirt in front of the restaurant.

I will close with some words I read in the airplane this morning and which, today maybe more than in any other day, speak to me:

“Live this moment, live this moment as totally as possible, and suddenly you will come to realize if you live it totally, it is solved. There is no need to solve it. Life is not a problem, it is a mystery to be lived. If you live it totally it is solved, and you come out of it beautiful, enriched, with new treasures of your being opened, but nothing hanging around you. Then you move in another moment with that freshness, with this totalness, intensity, so that another moment is lived – and solved.” Osho – Intimacy

Life is not a problem, it is a mystery to be lived…

Discovering Athens

Bits and pieces of Athens… One Sunday afternoon walk into the center of the city, the Parthenon unexpectedly appearing, again and again, at a street corner or when looking up, a saxophone playing for two lovers on a quiet alley, a drink in the favorite café of my cousin Carmen, celebrating my newly-bought pink slippers :) Thank you, Carmen and Taxiarchis, for welcoming me into your home and into your life!

A taste of Germany

You may guess my surprise when, leaving a cloudy and rainy France, I find in Germany not only the home of my friend Iulia, but also white summer clouds, blue skies and warm weather!

Iulia and I, we’ve known each other ever since the first days of our 5th grade (which is, if I come to think about it, almost 20 years ago!… ). Throughout the school years, we used to walk together every day to school, but ever since she moved to Germany for her studies and later started working there as a doctor, we saw less of each other. But we always stayed in contact: telephone, emails, visits when possible – and I still have home the letters we used to send each other when we were in college.

So the idea of visiting her and her husband Hermann, and meeting their new-born baby, without having to worry about the number of days I can take off from work, has been one of the first things that came into my mind when I thought about leaving Romania for one year. Well, here I am, arriving to Iulia’s home, in the small city of Parsberg, a typical Bavarian town. Her mother is also visiting and, to my delight, Oana, our common friend from high school, who had recently moved to Germany as well, joined us for a few days. So, after Iulia’s husband was leaving to work, the house and the little city of Parsberg was left to us, four women and one very little boy, having long breakfasts in the little garden behind the house, taking walks around the city, discussing everything (from the parks and flowers that grow in Germany to news about our common friends), enjoying the sun… Ah, and cooking! Every day, a different cake – it seemed to be some kind of a motto during my stay there. On my last evening with them, thought, we included Hermann in our circle, for a little ice cream treat.

My German experience was prolonged with an evening in Munich, at the home of Oana and her husband Iulian. The last rays of sun were lighting the silhouette of their daughter Stefania surrounding her with a golden hallow. A little bit upset because she had a cold, she was up on the father’s shoulders, holding a bagel over his head, giving him another kind of hallow.

Munich is to be my trampoline for arriving in Greece: with a first stop of a few days in Athens, I will soon be landing on the isle of Lesbos, home for my summer months.