On a Square in Athens

We had just checked into our hotel in Athens. Apparently, it was in a dangerous / bohemian / anarchistic neighborhood. Walking around, more than anything, it had character.

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It was Friday night, and the atmosphere pre-party lively. The hilly streets were full of picturesque bars and cafes, bustling with students and after-work beer drinkers.

Our very first experience at one of these bars was mostly wet. The waitress, in one of the most athletic falls I have ever seen, managed to spill to bottles of beer, break two glasses and scatter a bowl of peanuts – over me. Frantically apologizing, I was dragged into the bathroom and before I could stop her, she had started spraying water over my wet jeans and t-shirt. Now I was soaked. It was warm, I didn’t really care, but for the rest of the evening, she never stopped apologizing and insisted we didn’t have to pay our bill. No protests there. This neighborhood so far seemed very promising.

Wandering about and following the young crowd, we ended up on a big square. People were talking, laughing, and seemed to have a general attitude of “anything can happen tonight”. While we settled down to observe the scene, an older gentleman arrived. With his white hair, his guitar case and clearly non-Greek looks, he stood out. Apparently, so did we, as he walked right up to us and asked if we spoke English.

Meet Terry. 50-60 something, singer, songwriter, women lover and hobo live leader. Originally from England, he had been living in Hamburg for the past years (and somehow aquired a very German accent in the process). He had just come to Athens from Hamburg, following a woman, of course. Now he was playing happy songs on a square in Athens. “I don’t have a strong voice, so if I sing a ballad, nobody can hear me.” To be quite frank, it was very hard to hear the happy songs, too. Maybe this was because after every line he interrupted his performance to take a sip out of his beer bottle: “This is what I like to do. Play a little, sing a little, drink a little.” More precisely, he was playing a little, singing a little, and drinking a little more.

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Slowly, through his songs, Terry became one with the crowd. His erratic voice merged with the laughter and chatter, his awkward presence blended in with everybody else’s.

Somehow, a little bit of magic happened that night on a square in Athens.

Just one of these days

Yesterday was the day where I left my wallet at a hotel, and had to drive an extra 4 hours just to get it back. Yesterday was also they day where somebody pulled a hit and run on my rental car, and left a big fat bump – which I will probably have to pay. And yesterday was also the day where I had to explain to my boss that because I forgot my wallet and had a “car accident”, I had to miss our business call that night. Yesterday was the day where I felt that the whole world was playing a prank on me.

Today was the day where I had my morning coffee on a sunny terrace, watching the beautiful mountains of Crete.

IMG_2651Today was the day where I, by chance, saw a sign for a cave and ended up in a beautiful world full of stalactites and stalagmites.

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Today was also the day where I had an interesting encounter with a curious goat, and an even more interesting encounter on the top of a snowy mountain with two Cretans that didn’t speak a word of English. Today the radio played a Bob Dylan song that went something like “don’t go mistaking Paradise for that home across the road.” I have to ask though, Bob, why not? Why not look in the small things for the divine? And after a day like today, I believe that that’s exactly where we might find a piece of Paradise!

The Deal With the Jeans

Once upon a time, my boyfriend traveled to Colombia with his best friend. They met a magician with a good heart and, bewitched by his charm, ended up staying in Medellín for a loooong time. One day, their magician friend came to them with a business idea: He had “found” thousands of jeans, which he wanted to take to the coast to sell for a lot of money, and they would all be rich. All he needed was some money to buy all the jeans. The best friend thought it was a great investment and helped him to buy all the jeans. He spent all of his savings on it, and they all went to the coast together. While my boyfriend had to guard the merchandise in a hot, stuffy hotel room with no food and no fan, the best friend had to leave with the magician every day with a giant backpack full of jeans on his back, trying to sell the jeans. After many hot and unsuccessful days, they finally managed to scrap together enough money to return to Medellín, exhausted and completely broke.

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So imagine my expression, when, many years later, back in Medellín, one day, my boyfriend says: “I have helped out the magician with a business idea. He “found” a bunch of jeans that he will sell for a lot of money. I payed for the jeans, but he promised he’ll double my investment.” Some people learn from their mistakes, my boyfriend clearly still believes in magic. I just raised my eyebrows and asked how much he actually invested. “About 40 dollars,” he said, “and he also promised to get you a pair of jeans, too!” Thank God! We wouldn’t be stuck without money in Colombia! Needless to say, that about one week after the business deal, tragedy struck the magician friend. He got kicked out of his apartment and had to start to sell jeans for bus tickets, food and a hotel room. The weeks went by, the jeans were sold, but my boyfriend never saw any money, and I never saw the promised jeans. BUT, the magician must have felt guilty, as each time he met up with my boyfriend, he came back with a little gift for me and the promise that the jeans would still be delivered. 

On our last day in Medellín my boyfriend met up one last time with the magician: He sent many apologies and more gifts.

And the moral of the story is: Only give money to magicians if you want them to turn $ 40 into a pair of sunglasses, a backpack, a wallet and 3 shirts.