09 October 2011

A little travelogue

From Malta to Molivos, September and early October 2011
I’m learning how to really enjoy this “medi” life. Since arriving in Malta’s airport in the city of Valetta, I’ve met a lot of folk, ate a lot of food, and drank a lot of good things.


Malta is hot, and even when it’s windy in mid-September, very humid. I could have worn my bathing suit all day and been pretty happy. But, on the flipside, Malta’s still pretty conservative and Christian. I brought a scarf for all the churches even though I would have liked to been naked.

I went with a pilgrimage of almost 40 women, mostly over 50 years of age, and we stayed in the ritzy part of Malta: St. Julian’s. Being with women my mother’s and grandmother’s age isn’t all that bad. It’s a pretty luxurious journey with healthy food in vast quantities and bus rides as close as we can get to the ancient ruins and a relaxed daily schedule that includes rest time, or naps.

I also had the benefit of feeling very young, pretty, exotic (all the women were far fairer skinned than I), and adventurous. Lucky for me, I have my tanned color from working on the farms and sunning at the beaches of So Cal. My dark color and anglo nose perhaps allow me to so fluidly switch cultures. The Maltese might of thought I was Maltese, the Italians, Italian, and the Greeks, Greek. At the same time, if they don’t realize I am from the U.S., they tend to hold me to the social codes of their country (more conservative ones perhaps) and when I don’t follow them (like wearing sleeveless dresses or dancing in the streets with the older white women of the pilgrimage), I sometimes get harsher looks than if I was white skinned. On the other side, I can often feel accepted as family, just because of my darker complexion. I don’t know why I can write so at length about this subject right now except that I think it is because I am exceptionally dark at this point in my life, and I like it.

And, I think my dark color works in my favor in the end because I want to be family wherever I go, especially outside the U.S. and predominately white culture. On the whole, I feel I’ve spent too much energy hiding my skin color in order to pass for white(r) in the world that privileges whiteness. Sadly, for too long I have also felt that I don’t pass in the family of (mixed) color. But, I am a person of mixed color, and I don’t want to be as much smart and in control of myself (emotions, body)— like I believe I was taught in the white man’s world – as I want to be passionate and embodied (dancing, healing, sensing) – like I believe is valued in the world of “color.” Therefore, like Anzaldua and many other mestizas before me, I stand here with a foot in many worlds because my ancestors come from multiple cultures, and I celebrate my mixedness, my liminality.

So, Malta. We visited “all” the temples devoted to a sacred feminine figure. These temples are the oldest structures of the world, predating Stonehenge, the stones in the Gallapogoes. Do you hear that? The oldest. I had to say it aloud when we were at one of the structures preparing for our ritual. I said to my fellow pilgrim, Grouse, “So we are at one of the oldest structures in the world, and it is in the shape of and dedicated to a Divine Feminine, to a Goddess.” That still blows my mind. From the Hypogeum to Mnjdra, we traversed the Island of Malta and Gozo to pay our respects to these ancient stones, ancestors, and Mother. Along the way, I wrote a song and shared it with everyone, singing:

Ancient Stones, Ancient Stones in the Earth

With Water on Your hips,

Fire on Your lips,

Wind upon Your cliffs,

And Your Spirit I feel on my finger tips

When I touch you.

Ancient Love, Ancient Love that is now

With Your breath upon my face

Your voice fills this place

Your body is the space

And Your arms I feel like a Mother’s embrace

When You hold me.

As I shared before, one of the most breathtaking moments for me was when we were visiting the Sleeping Lady in the Archaeological Museum in Valetta, and I heard one women whisper to another, “She looks like us.” I too felt this when I saw her and more and more when I saw the Black Madonna in Gozo. Yes, the cliffs of Gozo were impressive and swimming in the Mediterranean on the limestone of Malta was enjoyable. And, the Maltese and Gozo honey and wine were delightful. But, if you go to Malta and miss connecting with the Ancient Stones and Goddess there, I frankly think you’ve missed something miraculous.

The Greek Islands:

Flying from Malta to Athens was a bit traumatic. For one, Air Malta has a monopoly on this flight, and not only did we have to pay about 150 euro, we also had to leave the beautiful hotel in Valetta at (freakin like) 3 am in the morning. Ridiculous. And then Athens itself is such a city, and I’m really not into cities these days. We chanced upon a lovely little community of like minded folk with a woman, Maria, as their matriarch. We also did happen to arrive on a day that the new Acropolis Museum was free and then the Acropolis itself happened to be free the next two days (awesome!). However, after a day, we were ready to leave and flee to Crete, the Greek Island of the south.

The two of us landed in Heraklion after taking the overnight ferry. It was a sobering night for sure. With people strewn about everywhere and us in our eye covers and blankets trying to ignore Beverly Hill Billies and then the Greek news, the boat almost spit us out in Crete. After talking with one of the ferry workers, we headed to his friend Konstas, who lent us a car for the week. We were in a bind really. My traveling companion does not drive manual (the only car to rent in Europe it seems) and I had not brought my driver’s license. No problem, said Kostas, and a half hour later, we had our car, which we named Rebirthing Athena. That day we went to visit Knossos Palace and the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion to see the Snake Goddess (among other beauties). We slept at the home of new couchsurfing friends (wait for the very Greek names of): Yannis, Thodoros, and Odysseus.

Next day, we headed down south to Hippie town Matala. It is in this beautiful region’s caves (Neolithic, later used as Roman graves and later) where the likes of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell played music. We went (yes yes yes! Topless!) swimming in the cove and later wandered to a bar called Hakuna Matata for local beer and food. It is there that we met Dimitrius who gave us a stunning room for the night, overlooking all of Matala. I was able to work on all that PhD work I have for this semester, and I really can’t imagine a better writing spot.

Both my traveling companion and I could have stayed a summer in Matala, but the next day we left to see Preveli, where the sea parallels and then meets the river. We left the magic of Preveli for the seaside city of Chania where we met Kalli (no not the Hindu Goddess), the amazing leo of Greece! We shared a delicious Greek meal including Squash Blossoms and Raki before heading out back through the “R town” as we call it to Heraklion. It was a homecoming to our Heraklion men for sure.

Next day, we drove out to the Skotino cave. And that I will have to write about a bit later. Ciao!

On a side note, I’ve met a lot of men, and none of it has been a great experience. Some, good. Some, bad. But none great. In Barcelona I met the Argentinian who demanded that I only dance with him. I later blocked him from my facebook account. In Milan, I met Michelle, who I couchsurfed with. He was not a romantic interest, just a place to stay with a friend, but he told me in the morning that it was hard for him to keep his hands off me. Like I needed to hear that. In Bologna, there was the guy who kept staring at me even though his girlfriend was right there beside him. In Athens, the man that would not stop staring even when we stared him down or the French man who won’t stop calling even though I told him my phone doesn’t work here or the man who took off his shirt at a party. In Crete, the man from Lesvos who kissed way too hard. See, pretty slim pickings.

The best men moments were at Delphi with the cute 70 year old guy and in Milano, when I briefly sat next to a guy who seemed worth pursuing. I’m in contact with both; we’ll see how that goes. Altogether, there’s been two men with the same birthday and a lot of men that I just find ….repulsive. And, then there’s the fact that I’m not even really here looking for men at all. They seem, looking back, like obstacles in my way. Well, Ganesha, obstacle remover, please help me by removing the disgusting men from my path or helping me choose new paths.

No comments: