Friday, October 05, 2007

Day 5: Plans, Mice, Men, Best Laid

Plan was to get up early. Plan didn’t work.

Ah, plans of mice and men and all that…

I had to go into town though, finally, to find an Internet café – some things just had to be done, emails, bank, stuff like that. So I set off down the hill… down, down, down. You would think going down would be ok at least but as I discovered coming down the only mountain I have ever climbed, Mitsikeli opposite the town of Ioannina where I may have mentioned that I once lived, coming down can be worse than going up. It is something to do with gravity, mechanics, angles of momentum and all that. Of course it is not helped here by the fact that the road surface consists of flat, shiny, marble-like stones and that the Greeks have a habit in the morning of sluicing their front steps and immediate part of the street with water to clean then and keep the dust down.

That makes these streets really slippery and makes walking down even more of a chore as you have to keep testing the ground to make sure your foot doesn’t slip and you don’t end up with a clatter on your back!

I got down as far as the second parallel, Kassandrou, when I realised I had forgotten my list of secret numbers which I needed for bank transactions…

Skata, gamo to, re malaka…

I stood there frozen for about 5 minutes trying to think if there was any way I could do this without having to go back up the hill for these bloody numbers.

There wasn’t…

So having just thought, “well, that’s the worst bit over with…”, I had to turn round and go back up the worst bit, up, up, up, and then come back down, down, down the worst bit again.

So, some time later I got down to Demetriou and walked along it to the east into the rising sun. Very different to the Monday evening bustle, it was pleasant, sunny but fresh. There is this adjective in Greek, droseros, which describes that kind of cool-but-going-to-be-warm-later-ness that you get on days in May or sometimes, if you’re lucky, in October and this was a morning for that adjective. It was great, walking along this typically Greek street on a Friday morning in that wonderful slightly hazy light and feeling relaxed - just enjoying it.

I turned down whatever street it was I had to turn down and caught a glimpse of the Rotonda. When I got there the high, narrow street miraculously broadened out into a huge square at the other end of which are the remains of the Arch of Galerius. I think without realising it, this was what I had been looking for – a square, a space, a centre. A place where I wasn’t just on a road to somewhere else, a real terminus where I could sit down and cogitate.

The Rotunda is a brick building from late Roman times. It was built by the Emperor Galerius, same bloke whose triumphal arch is at the other end of the square, and he intended it as his mausoleum. Perhaps the thought of that comforted him as he died his grisly death which Eusebius (the Roman historian not the Portuguese footballer) lovingly describes thus:

Suddenly a deep-seated fistular ulcer appeared in his private parts and ate its way into his very entrails. Hence there sprang a multitude of worms and an intolerable stench, since his members had changed, through gluttony, into an excess of soft fat which became putrid and swollen past all hope of recovery.

Well, despite all that, he never made it into his mausoleum because the Emperor Constantine came along and decided that the Rotonda should be turned into a Christian church.

Mice and Men, Plans of…

I found an internet café just around the corner and did my e-business. Then I had a little chat with the proprietor.

Hey, I could speak!! Suddenly words were there when I wanted them. Slowly but surely it was coming back.

As I was strolling back to the flat, I finally felt as if I had arrived.

Treated myself to lunch at the Blachou round the corner and went back up to the flat where I promptly came down with the flu…!!


Anji said...


Neutron said...

Yep, flu!