Needles and so much water


(Photo credit: Mathew Knott)

Down to the coast, and somewhere over a ridge the landscape changed from arboreal, the colours of autumn, to the rocky, brilliant seacoast. The first day took a walking tour. The guide said that the first Roman emperor to retire, retired there, and years later wouldn’t return to the job because he couldn’t bear to leave his cabbages. The guide said the culture is to work hard but also to live well, eat moderately (when not at Roman feast), relax, philosophise.

The night before I’d eaten grilled sea bass and steamed spinach, potato, zucchini. A man talked to me on the waterfront and said having been hurt is beautiful, when he made himself happier he became a better person and friend, and when you let people in you are both happier and sadder, you do get hurt.

Late one afternoon, bone-white day. Air pine-scented. Almost left for the sensible supermarket but turned back and swam in my shorts, from steps off the sea wall into deeper water. A line of buoys keep boats from swimmers. On shallow mudflats mostly men play a ball game where they use their hands as paddles.

Then took ferry to H—, got lost, reconnoitered at the top of a hill by some rosemary.

The next morning walked uphill to the fort, cooked at my hostel, laced my hiking boots to walk along the shore out of town. After a small beachside restaurant at a pebbly cove, the trail became a goat-path over stones, waymarked by spray painted symbols, winding around the coastline. The smell of pines beside the sea.

Passed nudist beach and a remote house, dogs barking and a man emerging from the water. I had passed no other hikers, until a pair jogging, a surly man in a shirt, and a young trio.

Toward the next town, the trail went up through an olive grove/vineyard with fig and pomegranate. The man at the shop said it was the last day of the season for them, and wished me to have a good life and Come back to home safe, which I was touched by.

The swimmer was fishing when I passed back. When I returned, walking at a clip to beat the sunset, the light had almost disappeared. Swam from the little cove in town out to the buoys and back. Walking was very good for me, altogether softer.

There was rain overnight and torrential rain in the morning. I sheltered in a cafe with other young ones for an awkward but interesting two hours. The sky fined up then. A man was bellowing from the water in the middle of the bay, was picked up by a kayaker, then a speed boat.

A night ferry to K—. A night watching old rock and roll videos and drinking homemade wine with my host. Hot lunch. In the morning from my window, smoke coming off the blue harbour where the sun was shining.

Early bus to D—. The moon is almost full.


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