Bits of Afroz – saying goodbye

Time has come for me to leave Afroz, to leave the island of Lesbos – my summer home, the place where I worked, the place where I had my holidays, the place where I re-met dear friends and where I met some new wonderful people, the place where I loved, and laughed, and cried, the place where I’ve been truly happy – for no reason at all, a place of understanding others and understanding myself. A place which left in my heart a mark, a distinctive trace, as if it were a person. Because, for me, Afroz it is not just the sum of all the people that live in it, or the enumeration of all its buildings, or a list of all the events that took place there over the summer. It is more than that – it feels like it is a living being, a living entity, having its own will, having its own path into existence, having even its own body that you can sometimes feel (in the evening, after the sun has set and the evening meditation is over or when walking around, on the dusty pathways, under the sun at midday), but above all, having a deep wisdom of life and immense reservoirs of acceptance and unconditional love.

Before ending my Afrozian summer, I want to share with you some photos of little moments which happened in Afroz and did not find their way into my blog. Like the mess in my luggage just after arriving, or the first storm of the summer, in June, with dinner by the fire, like the lunch with the girls in Skala (“Let’s do it now, before you guys start Primal!”), the bar, the Buddha Groove, an afternoon of wonderful playing and dancing which happened spontaneously one day, after lunch, the new Osho Afroz sign, old and new friends gathered in Zorba the Buddha on our last night there, Mytilini in the light of the rising sun, just before leaving the island.

“The best things in life just happen” read the sign in a bar in Mytilini where I bought my last coffee. I would just add: All we have to do is to let them happen. Thank you, Afroz, for teaching me what it means to “let things happen”!

Holiday mood

My (extended) Afroz summer gained a more holiday-ish spirit when I received the visit of my friend from Bucharest, Irina (the same Irina I met in Nice, maybe you remember), who came together with her husband and with my brother, Alexandru. Having people from my Romanian life, people that are so dear and important to me, joining into my experience of Afroz and of this island felt like an unexpected blessing.

One of these holiday-days, Irina and I decided it was the right moment for a “girls’ morning”. So we drove up to the village of Eressos and there we found the perfect place for our morning coffee: a little wooden bench under the big oak tree in the village square. Here, we enjoyed our coffee and the view of people coming and going out of the square, we listened to each other’s words, and hearts, we welcomed a stray cat that jumped out of nowhere besides us, on the bench. And, at length, we stood up and waked slowly the streets of the little village.

In the evening, now in the complete formula of four, we chose one of the restaurants over at the seaside to have dinner and to look at the sunset. And here it is another surprise that September brought into my life in Lesbos: the sun is no longer setting behind the hills, unseen, unnoticed, but into the sea, capturing the eye and the attention of all. Having been raised in a country where the sea faces east, this has been the first time in my life when I could watch, over and over again, the sunset on the sea. And sometimes I would just lock my eyes into the setting light, welcoming it inside me, wondering where the sun was going, what people and places would receive its light, now, that we could not see it anymore…

Looking for food, finding heaven

One hot afternoon, close to Mytilini, on the other side of the island, we were looking for a place to eat. At some point we stopped, where it seemed to me to be nothing but trees and bushes of flowers hiding the shores of the gulf of Mytilini. To my surprise, behind those bushes, and suspended on the edge of the shore, we found a few tables crammed together, some wooden benches, two or three cats wandering around and the most wonderful place where I have ever eaten. The sea was breaking into small waves at our feet, the sun was filtered through the leaves of the trees above, the laughter and cries of joy of a woman playing with her children in the sea were reaching us, mixed together with the sounds of the sea. In the meantime, the owners of the place kept on bringing delicious food, Greek salad, sardines and other fish, dishes with aubergine and zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes. Everything accompanied, of course, by local raki!

Scaring and partying – Afroz style

September time in Afroz. Life is quiet and the winter seems to be silently creeping in. To scare it away, we had, on Friday, the 13th, a loud and noisy “Scary Party”! On the soundtrack of the movie “Rosemary’s Baby”, most adequately provided by our vampire DJ Kaifi, we dressed up in Margarita’s hand-made clothes, put glitter on our cheeks and make-up on our faces, and we partied away, barefooted under the stars! Perhaps, for the last time this season…

PS:Some of the pictures have little comments under them.

Friends and smiles. In the September sun

A sweet first of September spent in and around the little town of Antissa, saying goodbye to our redhead Turkish friend who will be leaving soon. Incredibly delicious food (that disappeared before I could take any pictures – but trust me, we had the best octopus I ever tried!), laughter, all kinds of stories from all kinds of countries, home-made waffles and kaimaki icecream, listening to the waves crushing on the shore. And above all this, the autumn sun sending its light over us.

September is here and I feel the air already changing. The light is more mellow, the leaves loose a little bit their color, the mornings and the nights are getting chilly and there is a sweetness and a quiet coziness in the air. After the rush of the festival period, the center is getting more and more quiet, with new people saying goodbye every day. I will be saying goodbye as well, some day this month… But for now, I am still here, tasting the flavor of the island in the autumn. And I was surprised to feel already, on this first of September, so different from the exuberant, full-on energy of the summer months. September brings a calmness, a sweet melancholy, that I feel in my body and my heart. I feel good, happy, but in a different way than before, in a more quiet, mellow, going-inside-myself kind of way. A feeling that has a little taste of sadness in it. And I let it be and enjoy it. As much as I enjoy the light of the September sun.

Bits and pieces of Afroz festival

End of August, Afroz opens up for its annual festival. Many people, all kinds of workshops – from nutrition and music therapy to 5 rhythms dance, meditations and events with live music and… our very own “Meditators got talent”! I.e. (which stands for “id est” meaning “that is” – my lawyer memories kick in!), a show organized “in house”, in which any of us who felt inspired to share their artistic talent were welcomed to do so.

Here you have a selection of the pictures I took during the 5 days of the festival. They are quite a few, but I hope you enjoy them!

This is the story of a dress

Ever since I arrived to Afroz, I’ve been toying with the idea of having a white dress for one of the evening meditations, where many people like to wear white. The idea that I could make it myself came to me when Siddha, a wonderful Japanese woman, showed us dresses she had made out of pareos (which is, for all of you men reading this blog, a large scarf). Siddha left before I had the chance to learn her technique, but one afternoon I decided to try to do it by myself: how hard could it be? The result was different from my model, but I can say I am quite happy about it!

So, here you have my little white dress.
Many thanks to my friend Masta for taking the pictures :)

More about Afroz

Life follows its course peacefully here, in Afroz. There are many little moments, many flavors, sounds, smells and sites that I would like to make you part of… And I am not only speaking of the “beautiful” moments, of the wonderful afternoon sun that surrounds the whole camp even now, as I am writing to you, or sitting in silence, out in the open air, feeling the wind on your skin, or dancing in the bar looking at the stars. I am also speaking about the dust that is everywhere (even in my bed), about the ants, bugs, bees, wasps, grasshoppers, crickets, frogs and other little animals that you see all around, sometimes even in the bathroom sink or in your hut (one night I hosted in my tent a girl that had a big spider in her hut and could not get it out – or sleep with it). Or about the most horrible feet I ever had in my life, despite all the scrubbing and creaming… I show you here only the pictures, it is your job to put in the sounds and the smells, and the feeling of it. And it feels just like life, real, complete, beautiful, difficult. It is the life that each of us lives, but just sometimes forgets to step back and see the beauty of. Well, these pictures help me, maybe even you, see the little beauties that surround us and that sometimes, we just pass by. It is true, I chose for practicing this a place where maybe it is easier to do: Afroz and Lesbos do really look like a paradise and sometimes even feel like one. If I cannot see and feel the happiness here, where else?…

Maybe you’re asking yourselves what Afroz is. Well, Afroz is a meditation center focused mainly on the work of Osho, an Indian mystic who died in the ’90s. You can find on youtube parts of Osho’s speeches, his books were translated into Romanian and other languages, if you are interested. Also, you can find here more “official” data about Afroz.

But I am not going to give you “information” about Afroz. For me, besides and beyond all the words that can be said about it, Afroz is an experience. An experience that must be lived in order to be understood. So here you will only see MY Afroz… Maybe you’ll like it too :)

One of the main meeting points is the dinning area, where people gather to enjoy our cook Margarita’s wonderful food, but also to chat away, to meet friends or the new people joining Afroz. Since my last post, my job here in Afroz changed, I am now in charge of preparing the breakfast and I also help Margarita with preparing the lunch. It is a change that was good to me, I work less as number of hours and I like the feeling of being part of a team, peeling carrots with my friend Raluca who came from Bucharest for a few weeks and talking about what is going on in our lives or sharing thoughts on a meditation or the previous evening’s event. I love helping to put the food into the oven, mixing ingredients with my own hands, having the feeling that you put a little bit of your energy into the food that will be served.

At the end of each lunch and dinner, a rotating team of Afroz workers is washing the dishes. You will see in the pictures Tameer, “il capo di tutti capi” of the Afroz administration, and Madu singing a Greek song (with printed lyrics hanged in front of them). On the other side of the window, outside, the women are lovingly and teasingly encouraging them…

(warning: some pictures have little comments under them)

Sometimes in the afternoon (and more and more so, with the Afroz festival getting closer), musicians gather in the dining area, jamming together, giving us the chance to listen and, if inspired, dance to their music. Other times, our Chinese friends organize a little tea ceremony. Other times, the place seems absolutely deserted, with only me going around taking pictures and the cat, Ginger, lazily keeping a half-closed-eye on things.

Well, this is it for now, my next post will probably bring you some photos of the Afroz festival. Look, I already got my bracelet! You, guys, when are you coming?

A photo shoot in Afroz

I was preparing a post with more pictures of Afroz, my home this summer. But before I finish taking pictures for that post, I absolutely have to show you the photos I took today!

My friend Samaya, a beautiful Israeli woman I meet last year here in Afroz, came a few weeks ago and, while catching up on what we have been doing since we last saw each other, I found out that she started designing clothes (as you can see here). She is just at the beginning and because she needed some photos with her clothes, I proposed that I would take them.

After talking about it for two weeks, today everything fell into place: a Greek woman with an angel name, Aggeliki, was to be our model. In the light of the afternoon sun, we let ourselves inspired by Samaya’s wonderful clothes, by the sun, the loving energy of Afroz, the olive trees and Aggeliki’s stunning beauty. We laughed, we told stories, we went all over Afroz, we enjoyed the sunlight, we danced to the rhythm of a drum and a trumpet that happen to be around… I loved it! And I feel blessed to have tasted the wonderful joyful synergy of women enjoying and celebrating being women…

Photos of my life in Afroz

I’ve been thinking lately of sharing with you how my days in Afroz look like. So, one morning I took my camera and kept taking pictures of people and places around me.

Well, first things first, this is what I see in the morning, looking out of my tent (and yes, I am living in a tent and I absolutely love it!… I’ll tell you more about it later).

DSC_0239That day I did not go to the 7.00 o’clock dynamic meditation and, instead, I did my own dynamic, cleaning the bar area :) My summer job in Afroz is to take care of the small open-air bar that they have in the center. And working in the bar, I discovered I love giving people coffee in the morning, calmly chatting away about little nothings. I love understanding if they would like a Greek-size-normal-espresso or an Italian-size-normal- espresso… I like moving slowly to the music of the day, while preparing a watermelon smoothie or washing dishes. I love giving and receiving smiles and putting on the bar, in the morning, a little gardenia flower which people come and smell when in need of an aromatherapy boost. On some days, we even welcome special quests at the bar – like the little poisonous snake that you’ll see in the pictures, which somebody had caught in a friend’s house.

It was a day with an unexpected present. A friend was saying DSC_0284goodbye and before leaving he gave me one of his drawings. This is Anand Sagar, a

DSC_0301Mexican young artist who impressed many of us with the subtle energy of his paintings and drawings. And up here you have the drawing I received. Thank you, Sagar, and I hope we’ll meet again!

After lunch the Afroz bar is closed, so I headed to the sea. I took my bicycle through the dirt roads of Lesbos’ countryside, until I reached Skala Eressos, a small fishermen village, with bars and restaurants crammed together along the seashore. I felt like meeting people, so I went to Zorba the Buddha, one of the favorite bars of the people in here, rather than going for the secluded Sahara beach, at the other end of the bay. One long bath and a wonderful pineapple-green-herbs-smoothie later, I decided to go back up the hills to Afroz.

I must say that after trying bicycle, scuter, motorbike and car, the bicycle is by far my favorite means of transportation from Afroz to the seaside: it is not as hot as in a car, it is not as windy as on a motorbike or a scuter, there is no noise or smell of gasoline, I can enjoy the scenery and I can really feel my body enjoying the exercise. Ah, and it is cheaper. Well, it is true, it is not as fast, but, as it is not more than 20 minutes on one way, I recommend it for any future long-term visitor of Afroz!

Back to Afroz, I passed by the dinning area and had a look at one of the many fig trees around here. The figs are not ripe yet, but I can’t wait for them to get that yellowish color, hanging down softly one close to the other, so that I can take one, make a little hole in it and just squeeze out its sweet and juicy core… hmm…

Finally, I give you my tent, my little summer home of which I fell in love! I love that at night I can feel in it, after the heat of the day, the cool wind of Lesbos and that, whenever I look up from my pillow, I can see the stars and the moon. I love that right next to it there is a small fig tree. I love that when I am inside I can lean against the trunk of the olive tree, which I can also feel in the night, surrounding and watching over me, almost like a mother.