chapter lx

Posts Tagged ‘Joan

We are sitting in a cafe on the waterfront waiting for our ferry to take us away from this paradise. It has been a wonderful few days, relaxing and just hanging out. It doesn’t rain here until winter, just one sunny day after another. We have decided that floating in the Aegean is one of the favourite things that we have done here. The water is the most incredible blue, and so clear you can see to the bottom even far out. There were two beaches we went to, a white sandy beach, and a pebble beach. I think my favourite was the sandy beach, shallow way out, warm water and just lovely. When you go to the beach here, there are lounge chairs and umbrellas – the sun is way too intense not to have umbrellas. Our other favourite thing was having breakfast on the table outside. Always fresh, yoghurt, plums, feta, tomatoes, bread, honey, juice. We have eaten so well here, simple food but tasty and fresh.

We met the mother-in-law of the woman who owns the house, and she suggested that we would like to take a tour of the island, so we did. It has been inhabited for thousands of years, there are ruins from second century B.C. There is also an old monastery that was built six hundred years ago, set way up on a hill.

The whole geography is hilly and brown, very dry. There is no source of water on Chalki, it is either collected in cisterns or brought in by boat. There are roosters always crowing, and goats tied up here and there. Mourning doves are the most common bird one sees, also crows. There is another small bird that I don’t recognize.

Our days were slow and easy. Now another day of travel to get back to Istanbul. Overnight in Rhodes, ferry to Marmaris first thing in the morning, bus to Dalaman airport – as far as I can tell, there are only a couple a day, then a short flight to Istanbul. I do have reservations at a hotel when I arrive, so hopefully it is pleasant and I will stay there the whole time. I am sorry to be leaving Chalki, and Joan and Amina, but excited to explore Istanbul. From idyllic Greek island to one of the largest cities in the world.

A few days in transit and away from wi-fi, but back again. Got to Rhodes on a ferry from Marmaris on Friday. Was it Lawrence Durell who said that arriving in Rhodes by ferry is one of life’s treats? Or maybe Henry Miller. In any case, it is a lovely sight, you can just see the knights gathered. Finally met up with Joan and Amina and we stayed at a lovely small hotel, the Hotel Africa just across the street from a beach, so spent most of the day on the beach, then walked into Old Town for dinner.
Lots of old,old buildings and too many tourist stores, but a nice town to walk around. The next morning had time to walk around a little more, and then a long bus ride to get the ferry to Chalki. The ferry was another hour or so. We arrived in Chalki late afternoon. It was like coming onto a movie set, beautiful old seaside town, red roofs, fishing boats tied up around the harbour, church towers and colourful houses ranked up the hills. No one quite knew where the house is that Joan has rented, although the owner had left the keys at a cafe on the harbour. Finally a young man arrived who took my bag and we followed him up narrow paths between buildings until we arrived at a white house with blue shutters. The keys worked, so we knew we were in the right place. However, there was no kitchen! Joan phoned the owner, and we discovered that it is upstairs and downstairs.
Two large rooms, a kitchen, bathroom, washer, and windows that open wide. We moved the table and chairs outside, so we can eat out there and play games. The views are beautiful over the harbour and town. Last night was a full moon and just stunning. We have been to two beaches and the water is so clear and warm. Walking down to town is a treat, having a snack or drink, strolling along the waterfront. The waterfront is lively all the time, lots of summer people and many cafes and tavernas. The food is fairly cheap and fresh. I am looking forward to staying here for a few more days, relaxing and enjoying Greek hospitality.

Well, this should now be Chapter lxiv as another birthday has passed. Everyone still loves me! I had an open house, and so enjoyed everyone who came by, and hope to catch up with all those who couldn’t make it. Life is good, and I am sitting in a small hotel in Istanbul right now, waiting for a bus to take me to yet another airport where I will fly to Dalaman, take a ferry to Rhodes and meet Joan and Amina for six days on the island of Chalki. The airline lost my bag on the way over, but it is waiting for me at Dalaman airport, good news.

Istanbul. Arrived late yesterday afternoon after a grueling thirty hours of travel, tired but best to stay up until bedtime and get on new time schedule. So I went out walking to find some clean clothes to put on today. A man at a little shop invited me in for tea, and took me upstairs to a balcony where we could look out over the city, the Bosphorous, the Blue Mosque. Very beautiful view. Had my tea and decided that it was unwise to stay longer so went on my way. Busy streets, many little tourist shops, mild evening nice for walking. Got lost trying to find my hotel again, winding narrow old streets. Found a public toilet and paid .75 Tl to pee! This morning met two Japanese students, who were robbed last night at a night club, and now have very little money to continue their trip. one of them gave me a t-shirt because my bagage was lost. Japanese Mickey Mouse. Very cute. Walked around the Grand Bazaar this morning and saw some really stunning contemporary Turkish art, traditional designs updated and re-interrupted. Can’t wait to come back and do more exploring in this large and vibrant city.

Still in Greenbelt. Spent the past few days in DC at galleries and museums. Thursday, the National Gallery where I saw an exhibit of Robert Frank’s America, a book of photographs he published 50 years ago after spending a couple years traveling the US on a grant to capture the American spirit at the time. Some of them were quite moving, and most were very good at telling a story. Also an exhibit of illuminated manuscripts. I love them, they are such small gems. This collection covered about five countries and two hundred or so years. Beautiful. Then took one of the guided one-hour quick look at the American painting collection up to the twentieth century. It was worthwhile, letting someone point out the highlights and give context.

Friday, back to the city and the Renwick Gallery, which had an exhibit of the work of Greene & Greene, architect brothers who were designing homes in California the early years of the twentieth century and were very influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, Morris’s philosophy of beauty and utility. They not only designed the homes, but the gardens and furniture. It was well presented, and very beautiful. That gallery also has an entire room of paintings by someone (I’ve forgotten his name already, maybe Calen) who traveled the US during the 1830’s to 50’s painting native Americans, their dress, their customs and ceremonies and wrote a little about each tribe, how they lived, how many were left, etc. He knew that it was important to record those things, and it was very impressive, the thoroughness that he brought to the project. There were probably 200 paintings on the walls, from eye level to ceiling, and the variety that he captured was wonderful. Then down to the Smithsonian American History Museum, which was entertaining and interesting – spent a lot of time in the inventions and inventors section.

Coming home, my cell phone died – when am I going to remember to keep that thing charged, I think it’s time for a new phone – and I got on the wrong bus to get back to Joan and Stephen’s. They began to worry when I wasn’t back by 7:30 and I had been traveling the wrong direction for about an hour.
We went to the Zoo today and saw many wonderful things.

Magnolia in DC

Magnolia in DC

In the inventions hall

In the inventions hall

Stephen, Joan and Amina

Stephen, Joan and Amina

At the zoo

At the zoo

More zoo

More zoo

Underwater

Underwater

So beautiful

So beautiful

Greenbelt. Turned into a beautiful sunny day here, early spring, bulbs just beginning to poke through the leaves, little chill in the air but sunny. I finally got out the paints, and dressed Bella up, and Amina did her some too. Too bad I didn’t think earlier to just do it, and have everyone I have been to see add a little of their art. I hope that Joan and Stephen paint something. So here are photos, outside and in. You can see that the packing job is expert – no shifting around, the things I need at hand; picnic basket full of good snacks, nuts and dried fruit, crackers, and a small cooler for juice and cheese and fresh fruit. There is a larger bag that fits beteen the seats that hold books and maps and computer and chargers and makeup and I don’t know what else.

Bella

Bella

Duvet and Raphael's Madonna on top

Duvet and Raphael's Madonna on top

Like a Bedouin - pillows and blankets and rugs

Like a Bedouin - pillows and blankets and rugs

The most comfortable driving seat I've ever had

The most comfortable driving seat I've ever had

Greenbelt, Maryland, mile 4040. Holy cow, eighteen days and 4000 miles. I feel so lucky on so many counts; that I have time to do this, that I have so little, and so little to worry about, that I have so many friends and family, that this is a beautiful world, that life is good. I am filled with contentment and gratitude and look forward to what’s coming next.

It was a beautiful day, rain finally stopped and although it is chilly and was overcast most the day, it was a wonderful drive. I avoided the Interstate practically all the way – a little to Durham, and then coming into the DC area – at rush hour! I have done most of this without a map – some places I knew how to get there, and some times it is just asking locals how they get from here to there. This morning I asked the desk clerk about US 29 or US 501 and he suggested 501 but didn’t know much about it in Virginia, so when I got to Virginia, asked how they would get to DC and several people in the little store had suggestions, so I found 29 again, and both roads were easy, no traffic, very few TRUCKS and pleasant to drive. That whole area – North Carolina, Virginia is rolling and winding, the bottom of the Smokies. One of my favorite places in the states. I also love Kentucky but probably won’t see Kentucky this trip. Finally drove out of the allergy zone yesterday, as not much is blooming here yet, but as I came around a curve in Virginia this afternoon, there on a hillside in front of me was a whole pink tree, standing against the grey hill and surrounded by all the other stark naked trees. It was breathtaking. I am sorry that I never got a photo of a redbud.

Tomorrow is the day I dress up Bella. I stopped at a custom car shop today that does decals on cars – it occurred to me that a decal might be what I’m looking for, but it would take a couple days. This was by the side of a road, gravel drive and inside two people huddled around a small woodstove and a stock car with decals all over it. All day I’ve been thinking of how to do it myself, and picturing what I want besides “Bella” on the hood. I will post when it’s finished. Last night when I went to dinner, there was a twin parked in the lot, except the other one was a little less battered. I asked the men at the next table if it was theirs, as they were the only other people in the restaurant besides a large noisy family but they had already left. It wasn’t, and then I realized that it probably is not the kind of van they would be driving – hunters, fishermen, they probably have a Ford pickup or some gallumping SUV.

The mountains in the East are so different from the mountains in the West. They are lower, softer, not so jagged and treed. There was the most incredible huge red sunset tonight. I am at Joan’s and they have the largest magnolia in the front yard that I have ever seen. Too bad I won’t be here when it blooms. I will stay here through the weekend – time to do laundry, see some of the Capitol and enjoy being with more loved ones.

Hills in Virginia

Hills in Virginia