Exiting Europe

April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

My favorite statue in Ciutadella (Menorca has fabulous horses)

The Pyrenees, sharp and thick with snow, buckle up beneath me; they’re vast, taking many minutes to pass over. I left Menorca last night and Mallorca this morning, and am en route to Dusseldorf, Germany on Air Berlin. A short layover there, and then on to New York City and the fun of trying to find my hostess in Manhattan,  conflicting directions notwithstanding…

Stayed overnight with a friend’s friend in Palma, and took a lovely stroll around midnight with him and his dog through the old city, my last tango with the narrow stone streets of Europe. Floodlit castle on the hill, Moorish fortress walls golden and rising out of the sidewalk, harbor full of sailboats, sidewalk cafés half busy – a quiet Sunday night. Peeking into house’s inner courtyards if their huge doors are open: cool potted-plant refuges for when the summer heat becomes oppressive.  The moon, barely short of full, shining clear in the Mediterranean night.

My last days in Menorca were just magical. Lots of time at the villa, “Ca Na Sally” (every house has a name), writing emails, playing music, cleaning, packing, meditating, lying around, eating. A last sweet Contact Improv jam at the studio, a last few massages given to my housing angel, Sally. Two days of rain freshened things beautifully, and the wildflowers went nuts. I invited all my friends to a farewell party for Friday night, and the rain stopped just in time – the house filled with great food, sweet people, music, slideshow of my pics, and taking lots more pics. On Saturday, cleaned and closed up the villa, spent the day with Natalia, my original contact here, and in the evening went to Fornells with she and Lita to hear Nat’s husband Simon playing percussion with a band (Diego something), incredibly great “Flamenco Fusion“. No room to dance, and lots of smoke, unfortunately!!

And Sunday, with my couchsurf buddy Lita again, we had a leisurely terrace breakfast, then with Fanny joining us, went to a new beach near Es Mitjorn Gran. Beautiful, almost hot day, lots of people but not too much, and manifesting my dream of swimming in the Sea on my last day! A little hike up the barranca, picking wild asparagus, and then home to Fanny’s for a beautiful lunch with Lambrusco, sunshine and talk of “la proxima vez”, the next time we meet. Of course, everyone is invited to my home in Oregon, and I hope they come!

And now, boarding for NYC. I hope to do a little sightseeing nearby my hostess’s at The Cloisters in the morning, but otherwise I am not interested in trying to see any more of NYC. Never have been a city girl, and have certainly had my fill on this trip. Home, my beloved daughters, and my friends, fill my vision now. As for my soul’s harvests from this odessey, I expect they’re already here, and my awareness of them will pop up in small bursts, for the rest of my life. I am so happy to have had this experience, and I hope you have gained something from sharing it with me, as I have from sharing it with you. Namaste’.

Wow! Muchos amigos fantasticos!!

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Mentos y Momentos Minorcan

April 20, 2010

Lithica stone quarry: the maze

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I love Menorca. It’s a beautiful little island, only 35 miles long by 10 miles wide, with about 90,000 people. About the size and population of Corvallis plus Albany, our piece of the Valley. It was a silly surprise to me that they don’t all know each other, or aren’t all related, or that there’s one square inch of the island they each haven’t seen; of course they don’t, they aren’t, they haven’t. A real eye-opener about how much space we really need, or can encompass. As well as the stewardship of it all: a mini-planet here, with all the same issues. And I like that. Like my thoughts about community, or arranged marriages: I am curious about what the lack of choice can do to, and with, one’s reality. Of course, there’s plenty of that in my life, too: I can’t choose to be taller, or male, or African. Maybe awareness of limits do make for more intentional living, more value placed on what there is, and less tendency to just dispose of places, people, or stuff when we’ve screwed things up too much. Maybe, maybe…

I love practicing my Spanish (every now and then, especially when I first arrived from Rome, I think I hear an Italian accent coming out of me in it, though!!) I’ve become much more fluent, just as I’d hoped, and plan to keep practicing with friends at home. It’s almost an obsession; I lie awake at night, translating and rehearsing the day‘s chatter. Feels like a part of my brain that’s loving the exercise!

My little villa is wonderful. The rocky-coasted sea is just across the road, the tourists are mostly not here yet, the lighthouse pulses all night, it’s lovely and quiet. Today I hitch-hiked the 5 miles up the road to the store for some supplies: very easy and fun! I’m trying to use this time to write for my work, but it’s hard to concentrate. I mostly want to lie in the sun on the roof, try out all the different chocolates, ride my bike around in the moonlight by the sea, and play the guitar someone loaned me. I did write a new song, though, half English, half Spanish, so that’s made me happy — first song-writing in 3 years! It feels encouraging to feel my creativity coming back. Also have done a little performing here, singing and playing, and that’s been fun. Except the bars are unbelievably smoky, yuk.

Decided to stay here ’till the end, after all. The relaxation, and the daily living Spanish-style, more precious than adding to my adventures, at least for now. And next time, I think intensive adventuring for 3 months, not 5, will be perfect. I have one more week here, and then a 3-day journey to the west: first to Mallorca, then to New York, then to Portland, Oregon. My kiddos will be there to pick me up, my friend will have my bed all ready, and this small epic of mine will come to a close. I have very mixed feelings about going home: some fear, some joy, some of everything. But I go!

Langosto. It has legs. Lots. I do what??

La Danza Solo

April 8, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Villa Sunset

I have a villa in Menorca, an island in Spain, on the rocky edge of the sea. Last night the full moon slowly grazed across the starry sky, and then sank into the early morning silhouette of Mallorca, the next island to the west, straight out my bedroom window. Today, the sky is a clear, cornflower blue, but the wind brings the waves to a wild pitch, spray jumping high and wafting over to sprinkle me here on the patio. Slowly, as the heat builds, the sea is calming a little. I love it when the cooling shadows of seagulls glide across my skin.

Solo sojourning again, the first since leaving Paphos on Cyprus, on February 15. Another 6 weeks of intensive traveling behind me, full of new people, new places, new experiences. And now, as requested, the Universe has served up some solitude. I am slow, I want time to digest; and I am sensitive, I want stillness to rest into.

It is interesting, this glacial-speed unearthing of my own faint rhythms, small pulses of preference, tiny I-identifications. This trip has been about many things, but perhaps an overall theme could be named Awareness; perhaps even Self-Awareness, although my duality-denying mysticness has me always tripping over the words “I”, “me”, “my”, or “self“. Ever the consciousness junkie, I intended / hoped for / tried to invite, the muses of Presence and Wisdom to teach me, to dance with me on this trip. And I can’t tell whether they have, or not. Did I need to go on this trip, to have whatever I’ve acquired along the way? Probably not, but it’s been a fun way to spend the time…

So now I have the final chapter at hand, or nearly. I met Sally in my hostess’s sculpture class, and this is her extra house, a rental in the coming holiday season. I said I wanted a quiet place to think and write. She’ll trade me for a little money, some cleaning and some massage. I have no internet, no phone, no car or bike, and I’m about 6 miles from Ciutadella, the city. I’ll rent a bike, see if the buses are running, trust in Providence. I have the sea, the wind, the sun, the rocks, and a black-and-white lighthouse just to my left.

I don’t have a ticket across the Atlantic yet. There’s exactly four weeks left before my flight home from New York on the 27th, and there’s still a little squiggle of doubt about spending all of that here. There’s my work to do: scripts to write, classes to promote, workshop advertising ad nauseum to send out (and lots of that requires internet). But  then there’s the rest of Spain, more couchsurfing, more adventures beckoning! I would LOVE to cross on a ship, for instance, instead of fly! But, sadly, the cruises are going the other way mostly, as it’s Spring…

So, we’ll see. This and here feel very good right now. I am snacking on famous Menorcan cheese, drinking cheap Menorcan wine, watching the waves, and reading silly romance novels that were left here. I do feel the Mediterranean has taught me more about sitting back and relaxing. Good thing, since I profess to be an expert on the subject!

Wild Sunset over Mallorca

Menorca Magic

March 26, 2010

Actual Color

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sitting in the sand on a seaweedy beach on the south edge of Menorca, Spain. I am the only one here. The Mediterranean Sea is not an ocean (who knew??), and the waves are just that: soft, gentle, only energetic enough to make a sweet pushing sound, massaging my ears. The sky has gone a bit cloudy, and I am tucked into a little rock cove, out of the wind.

I am here for the day, having seen three friends off in their kayaks this morning (and am hoping for a chance to kayak, myself, soon). A day to myself after the intensive dance workshop weekend with about a dozen others. All in Spanish, with occasional spurts of translation offered up by the so-compassionate others. But, as I expected, the material (contact improv) was familiar enough that I could just dance along and guess what all the discussions were about. It was SO wonderful to dance!! I am totally out of shape, and fatter than ever, but it felt great to move, be moved, and above all, be with sweet, sweet people who were so very open, generous, and fun. And the fact that many of us lived together for the whole weekend, was a delicious taste of community (and oh!! Natalia‘s cooking!!!).

Menorca is so beautiful. Low rock walls crisscrossing everywhere, lining all the roads and fields; Spring flowers just starting up; the colors in the sea along the shore all beautiful brilliant turquoises and jades. So I think this might be why I don’t have any plans from here – maybe I’ll just stay. I have offers of housing, there’s dance and music, the sun’s coming out, the people I’ve met are fantastic, and I can practice Spanish!

And maybe I’m done for now, with the intensive traveling. Morocco, Tunisia, and the Alhambra beckon, but there’s some “shoulds” in there, and that’s worth noticing. My desire is to slow down, stop, and digest, before heading home and the freight train of my life hits me. I want to just revel in being alive, in a simple, simple way;  I suspect that what I’ve found in Menorca here, is a perfect place to do that. “Wow!” and “vale”, as they say here ~

Natalia's Table O'Contactadores

Italian Accents

March 18, 2010

Vaticania

Wednesday,  March 17, 2010

So, it’s been quite a no-blogging while; my apologies to you, Dear Readers. All of Italy since my last entry, as I left Roma this morning and am now in the Barcelona airport, awaiting my next flight in a few hours; tonight I will sleep in Menorca!  Menorca is one of the Balearic Islands, not far off the coast from here, and I am headed for a Contact Improvisation Dance weekend workshop and an end, hopefully, to my time in Big European Cities. I am ready for sunshine, countryside, smaller places and slower paces!

Venice: a liquid, baroque experience; I loved it. Water everywhere, and the lovely moldy elegance rising, curling up out of it… Architecture that never palls, the wavy dancing ground that carries the spirit along, the ubiquitous presence of Carnival masks and mannequins. Sparkling Murano glass chandeliers and necklaces, marble angels and saints soaring into the sky’s edges, gold-tricked black-lacquered gondolas bobbing about, their red velvet seats beckoning. Oh, goodness, it is lovely!! And busy with tourists, even on grey March days…I can’t imagine the crush of summer being any fun.

Mirano: a quiet little burg, where I landed for a few days to be Klaus’ first couch surfer. And as with almost all these road angels, I fall a little in love, have a great, great time, and move on with a new, deep connection in my life collection. People are mostly amazing, wonderful, generous and fascinating, and this CSing lets us practice being our best. (If you’d like to read about my CS adventure and friends, see me, YogaTina, on www.couchsurfing.com) .

Florence: An odd experience. So famous for art, and yet it felt so closed down to me. High, 5 and 6-story walls, narrow stone streets, huge heavy doors on everything, and all of them shut. But – the Basilica is gorgeous, a festival of pink, green and white marble, so so ornate. And the Loggia, an outdoor shelter holding about a dozen amazing statues from all over; and a copy of Michelangelo’s famous David nearby. (I find his head, hands and feet too large, but what do I know??) My lovely friend Riccardo toured me all around Firenze (Florence), San Gimignano and Volterra, spouting endless streams of historical info, bringing it all to life; his Italian accent will echo around my photos forever! And staying with lovely Carla and her little doxie Kenia was a delight; lemon marmalade memories!

Borgo San Lorenzo: Another small burg, north of Firenze, again a CS-inspired move. Mariangela, an Earth angel; visiting her English class with her, a guitar-and-song  fantastic dinner with friends Paolo and Marta, and a trip out to the picture-book old family country house, fodder for fantasies of future yoga retreats amongst the olive trees.

And finally, Roma, The Eternal City: Blessed Riccardo taking time to accompany me there, we spent Sunday on the slow (cheap!) train, and then a whirlwind walking tour of the biggies: Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Forum, Pantheon, the new huge thing I can’t remember the name of, and lots of churches, statues and pillars along the way. Long philosophical talks, grazing on picnic food, and even sunshine — almost felt like Katherine (Audrey??) Hepburn, but my Cary Grant was PlatoNick…

On my own the next day, I left the hostel, having chugged my (included) cappuccino and chocolate croissant, and advanced on the Vatican. Waited in line at the Museum for almost an hour, then immediately got lost inside. Eventually found a herd to join, and was swept along the galleries, the “Sistina C. >“ signs occasionally sparking hope anew. Finally reaching the sanctum, scored a seat, sat and stared around for a good, long time. My god (!), what a lot of work has been devoted to devotion. Churches, painting, sculpture, music, pilgrimages, crusades, quests — maybe even as much as war. Gods and enemies, love and hatred, duality’s endless dance, creation being destruction. And somewhere in our spare time, we have developed these skills that we apply to these two causes – the arts and sciences, some of them truly exquisite. I wonder where we’d be by now if we hadn’t had religion and warfare, if we’d had different values and motivations.

Anyway, time to catch a plane. I have Monument Fatigue, and so Menorca is arriving on my path at the perfect moment. Ciao, Italia, y Bienvenidos, Espana!

The Innards Of Angels

Adriatic Everywhere

March 2, 2010

Lifeboats, and knowing where they are...

Monday, March 1, 2010

It’s the realization of a longtime dream: to be on a big (safe-feeling!) boat in an ocean, so far out that I can’t see any land, anywhere, in any direction. Just me and the rolling blue, and finding out how I feel about that. And it is rolling, and it is blue (sun came out!), and I love it! I don’t know how long I’d love it for, yet ~ that experiment still lies ahead somewhere in my life. Probably depends quite a lot on who I’m with…

I’m between Italy and Croatia, in theory, it being afternoon. Left Patra, Greece, last night under the full midnight moon, luxuriating in the fact that my on-sale super-cheapo 4-bed dorm had only me in it (and a private bathroom, with towels, linens and a hot shower!!!), and that it’s so early in the season, the ship has a very low population. Right now I have the whole café to myself, lovely Greek music piping in. I keep chortling to myself about paying only $75 for a 2-night cruise in a private stateroom!! Especially when I see the $35-deck passengers, camped out on the floor and couches, like I have always done before — I allowed myself some luxury, and I’m proud of it!

So Venice lies ahead! Landfall at 0800 tomorrow; I’ll wander around a long time trying to find the hostel, I expect, and then settle in, saddle up and go see some sights. The next day I’ll see some more, and then get a bus to a couchsurf over on the mainland, coming into Venice from there for a few more days, probably.  More watery ways, yumm…I hear the evening vaporetto goes slowly down the Grand Canal…slow is my favorite speed…

My $75 stateroom, aboard the Lefka Ori

A Cautionary Tale

March 2, 2010

His n' Hers Tombstones, Istanbul

I’ve always been rather insufficiently paranoid, in many ways, so it came as only somewhat of a surprise to me that I was robbed. I had just arrived in Athens, took the metro from the airport into the city and my friend Eleni’s house, and on my walk from the station to her door, stopped and bought her a sweet bouquet. I was so happy to be back in Greece, feeling full of affection for my new country-love. I thought it was odd, taking my backpack off, that the zipper was open, but just figured it was my usual spaciness, closed it, and paid for the flowers with money I had in my pocket. That was just after noon.

About seven that night, a Thursday, I finally realized my wallet was missing; passport, credit cards, driver’s license, phone SIM cards, and about 23 euros in cash. Damn. OK, swinging into action. Got both credit cards cancelled, still had one business day left to get to the embassy, and prayed hard I could keep my plan on track for leaving the country on Sunday.

Things I did right: (we already know what I did wrong!!): First, I had Eleni on my team! A native speaker, took me to the police station and translated until we got the right paper from the right person to take to the embassy. Second, I had had a moment of obedience at some point and had followed advice to have a one-page photocopy of my docs, stashed in my luggage: passport, DL, credit cards, bank acct numbers. That was HUGELY helpful. Third, I had also stashed away another credit card, which now I could use for cash withdrawals for the rest of my trip; trying to get a new one  in the mail apparently isn’t easy, despite all the “overnight” promises every service boasts. Fourth, I didn’t get upset; no point. (I did get irritated when my PIN didn’t work and my bank couldn’t tell me what it was — will record those from now on, too). Fifth: I had uploaded my home bills management documents to Google Docs, so could access them online, knew exactly which auto-pay creditors I had to contact about changing credit cards, and had their phone numbers. Sixth: had Skype all set up already, and could make all those calls for free. Seventh: had my home phone on vacation hold, so the thief couldn’t make calls on my account. There you have it: “Seven Strategies for Stress-Free Suckering” — hope you’re taking notes!

And, I was lucky. The US Embassy in Athens wasn’t too too busy, they heard my need for speed, and they delivered, with grace and style. I had a new, temporary passport by noon on Friday!! (Tip: don’t get your photos done elsewhere; they have the service there, and the photos will be the right size.) I could even just enjoy my last few days in Athens, which I did; knowing I’m an ancient-sites junkie, Eleni treated me to a Saturday trip up to the St. George Church on Mt. Lycabettus, and Sunday morning at the Agora. Then the long train ride across the Peleponnesus, and onto  this Dreamboat.

To All My Kind Commentors

March 1, 2010

Gypsy Flowersellers, Uskadar Mosque, Istanbul

First, thank you all so much for letting me know you were out there! And second, I just recently learned that all the answers I sent you did not actually get emailed to you, but only posted here — so you have to look for them! Sorry about that, there’s just no end to this IT learning curve for me….

Asia Mine

February 21, 2010

Dervish, by Tuncay Shevketoglu, Istanbul

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sitting on the early morning banks of the Bosphorus, waiting for the Beylerbeyi Palace museum gates to open; it was built in the 1860s for Sultan Abdul Aziz, and apparently still serves a good breakfast, which I’m looking forward to!

A huge Turkish flag, red with a white crescent and star, is flying overhead; the sky is grey again, unlike sunny yesterday. The Golden Gate-ish Bosphorus Bridge sails over the palace from this side, Asia, to that side, Europe. My hostess, Neshe, says she is “Asian inside, European outside”, and that’s how Istanbul feels to me. (And hey, I’m in Asia!!! New continent for me, yay!!)

I spent my first day in Istanbul going to work with Neshe. She teaches English at a Muslim parochial high school. Mostly all-girls classes, but we “guest-taught” in a boy’s class once, too, at my request. Most of the girls in headscarves, everyone in uniforms, entire bodies covered; no makeup, little jewelery. An odd mix of rowdy and respectful, standing for the teacher at start of class, yet shouting and chattering often. Extremely excited to practice their English with me, to ask me the questions they’d prepared, and for me to enjoy the feast they’d all made and brought from home, a surprise treat! And they performed for me: two girls on reed flute, one on a frame drum, and a very sweet young man, Mohammed, singing with beautiful skill and a quiet passion. My big gift to them: I taught them some American dance! A few contra moves, some waltz, some swing! They loved it, and now are calling me “Auntie Tina”, and writing me on Facebook, friends for life.

That night Neshe took me to her “whirling” class, the Sufi dervish dance practice. Four women and the assistant teacher, a man who marked the beat with a stick on the floor. We wore smooth leather booties, crossed our arms, and turned, very precisely, counter-clockwise. It looks so simple, but it was hard!

Yesterday I met Neshe after work and we went to the hamam, the Turkish bath. Bliss!! A great sauna, cold water and hot to dip and pour over, and an attendant gave me a scrub and a business-like massage. Lying around on the big, warm slab of marble for hours, chatting, looking up at darkening sky through air holes in the ancient dome. Feeling light and wonderful, we walked home under the moonlight, had a quick dinner, and then hurried off to a free concert of Turkish traditional music, a 4-piece ensemble that was wonderful.

And now I’m at breakfast in the palace cafe: enjoying my tiny cup of Turkish coffee, the stained-glass windows, marble walls, a display of the Sultan’s service ware. Later today I’ll ferry over to the European side and play tourist; tonight, meet friends of Neshe’s and her marbling teacher, whom she considers almost a guru.

I love this couchsurfing: so, so much better than touristing, especially as a solo. Instantly absorbed into the culture, companioned, and sharing so much more of myself than just my money. So I’m back on the road again, my restful Cyprus soliloquy over. The next month holds Athens, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Menorca!

If You’re Reading This Blog, Please Raise Your Hand! Higher!! Higher!!

February 6, 2010

"Hands? Wait - Tiffany, can I use yours?"

Great, thank you, very good!!  And now put it, finger pointing down, on the “Comment” button, and let me know! Is there anybody out there? Anybody at all?? (Besides the wonderful folks who have done so already ~ thanks, Dad!)