Gavdos Day 6
I sit beneath my tree and watch the ferry cross the calm blue between my present and future. Soon I will be pulled from Paradise and tossed into the unknown. I’m not sure if I am ready. This island has seduced me with her harsh beauty and eroded any sense of responsibility. The cliffs care only for the wind that shapes their grandeur. The trees will continue to face the sun and spread shade onto the ground. I am smaller than a grain of sand but I know that the Goddess has smiled on me.
I don’t pay a visit to the Acropolis. Instead, I prowl the streets below this icon of Greek civilisation like a stay cat. The living city is pounding in my ears. This isn’t a tourist trip, this is a mission of the heart. I am ready to meet myself : fears, hopes, dreams and cast them into the mass of anarchy at the foot of the Parthenon. It is appropriate, for this temple was dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the patron goddess of the city of Athens and goddess of wisdom.
The heat-soaked city is full of tourists. I have a hand-drawn map in my pocket with a penciled heart in the corner. A fellow traveller from Gavdos sent me softly and sure-footedly on my way from the paradise island. I also carry a scrap of paper with the words παράδεισος, ἀγάπη, αστέρια, βουνά, θεός / θεά, γάτα. I am here to search for the meaning behind the mystery.
Several days later, on the midnight train to the Alexandroupolis. I expect to sleep but an elderly man, with the ability to sleep at the first jolt of the carriage, snores incessantly. With every rise of his large belly, he exhales the dragon’s breath of a chain-smoker. I am trapped between my travel-weary desperation for REM-time and an over-stimulated brain. So I dissect the past few days.
Even though it was our first meeting in this universe, I recognised you in an instant. Slightly taller than me, long tresses, wearing ocean blue and pale ochre. Perhaps you were thinner than I imagined but I had yet to understand how the economic crisis had infiltrated into every part of life here. Your blue eyes held me like a long-lost friend. Your smile made me forget what I had feared. We wandered through the streets of your past-life in this present moment, sharing stories, souls, silence. I knew that I could hold this moment and continue my journey. Thank you. Next stop Samothraki island.
Gavdos Island Day 5
At first glance there is nothing but burning sand. Then ants appear as if by magic. Small black ones cruise the spot where I’ve left a trace of oily sardine. Miniscule amber ones work feverishly on another remnant of lunch. It takes languid dedication to watch these tiny creatures. Meditation within nature. Om to the fish that brought us together.
It is my 4th day on Gavdos, a tiny speck in the Libyan sea halfway between Crete and Africa. I’m exhausted and burnt and have barely moved from my tree! A cold winter in Australia followed by some conflicted French weather has left my Anglo skin totally unprepared for this heat.
My housemates encouraged me to go. Jewelpunk gave me the lowdown on getting some sleep on the longhaul, El Eco teased me with ‘so what else are you going to do in Canberra winter? Go, you know you’ll love it!’ The Tron winked ‘you have to meet the Greek God’. They knew I needed a dose of the Otherlands. Minus seven in Canberra just wasn’t cutting it.
Of course they were right. No matter how many times I counted the less than adequate numbers in my bank account or worried about leaving ageing parents, I was already looking at maps and dreaming of paradise. Now I am here in this unbearable heat… I am here! I am grateful for the cool wind, the expanse of dazzling blue inviting me to take the afternoon by the throat and dive in and I’m excited by the prospect of time to myself to think and dream.
Photos © Jeni McMillan
Day 2 in Paradise
I am perfect here on this island
The colour of sand
The strength of the wind
Time has been stolen
And dropped into the restless sea
Photos © Jeni McMillan
The first mountains I see lie naked in the Cretan sun. I am shocked, not by their audacity but by their weather-beaten skin. Like plump grandmothers with hard-working hands, these Goddesses call the Crone. You are one of us, croon the ragged rocks. Don’t be mistaken, your youth has flown. I acknowledge my silver threads but the grandmothers laugh. It is wisdom we speak of. Now go ahead and follow your path.
Photography © Jeni McMillan
The grass is wet.
A forest home for ants and spiders scurrying between long wet blades.
Look! A butterfly lands on my shoulder, ever so lightly.
The pigeon calls on repeat from the first light until the sun slips into the antipodean sky.
Vapour trails slice the blue into diamonds and darts, piercing through the space above.
I am sending a message to you : each naked foot is sure on this ground.
The ants cluster on my toe. I am a mountain to conquer.
Here come the flies..
They own my legs but my thighs are for you.
Photo © Jeni McMillan