Saturday, April 12, 2008

To Honor The Gods

THE DREAM is taking me backwards, away from my destination of circling the globe. Instead, I am now circling the Mediterranean Sea. How could I be so near to Greece and not visit? The journey brought me to Athens, and now I am on the island of Corfu, off the northwest mainland. Athens felt cramped, with block after block of plain building facades. The National Garden, downtown, needs some serious pruning and tender, loving care. Underwhelming until my walking brought me to the foot of a hill overlooking the city and sea. On top stands the Acropolis. My tired legs pushed on and healed quickly as I stood next to the marble columns of the Parthenon (begun in 447 BC, and the building was substantially completed by 432). Even with the crowds, and restoration work underway, something told me I was having a peak life experience. It was the same feeling I had when I saw Michelangelo’s sculpture of David in Florence. Awe. How could it have been humanly possible to create? The site is dramatic, and impossibly difficult for the fantastic, grand and beautiful buildings that were erected by hand. It was all done to honor the gods, and the gods must have helped because man alone could not have accomplished it.
Now I am in Corfu, away from big city noise. I hear birds outside my window, and footsteps on ancient stone streets. The six-month tourist season is barely beginning. Shops are sleepy, yawning toward the full awakening of the high season. I flew in from Athens, and learned from the taxi driver that the island practically shuts down for six months; the airport closes during the off-season.
Some loneliness comes and goes. Mostly, it is from being rootless, changing places often, and not having the easy pleasure of conversation and association. The last four countries have spoken Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish and Greek. Anyway, I am experiencing so much . . . and only begun! I have my ticket for a boat that sails all day and overnight from Corfu on the 19th of April to Venice, Italy, where I have a good friend, Cristiana who is waiting for me. And she speaks English!

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