I was thinking of Juan Matos, the Indian wizard from Mexico and what he said about being inaccessible, something I was trying hard to understand when I read Carlos Castaneda’s book. It was not about being secretive or living isolated, but – I think this is what he was saying – that we shouldn’t cling to everything around us – things, people – and use them until we exhaust them (or we get bored), exhausting ourselves in this process. In fact, I think I thought of this only later, trying to express what I was feeling that evening on the deserted beach on the Lipari island. Because in that moment, I wasn’t thinking of anything, I am sure of that. And that rarely happens.
It was in 2010 and it was the first time traveling by myself. Well, a few years ago I went to Italy or Czech Republic by myself, following a random decision, without knowing anybody there, or the city, but at least I had some reference points: the university, the office, the student advisers. But I had never left by myself for one week on holiday. It seemed such a long time, stretching before me, unknown. I know, I know, it’s not a big deal. I have girlfriends who are are so brave, they were traveling for months in Asia or South America and I admire them (not only for that). And in my travels I met so many backpackers who were on a world tour by themselves, as a passing ritual after graduation…and they were ten years younger than me 🙂 . I keep saying to myself I would do that someday too. Some day. Aaarrghh!! But no, I really want to do this, not in order to obtain enlightenment, happiness or Prince Charming, as it happened in Eat Pray Love, but because for me it’s an important point on my bucket list, together with paragliding, scuba diving, living abroad and being able to speak in public (the last one is the hardest, I am still working on it. Luckily I still have some time left to succeed…hopefully 🙂
Hmm, you know, sometimes when I’m having a beer with my friends in the city where I was born and raised and everything around me and inside me is so calm and familiar, I am wondering what the hell is this thing in us, like a fundamental restlessness, a howling, an undefined lust (some people call it wanderlust, but I think it’s more than that), which pushes us to leave everything behind, to throw ourselves into the world like in an unknown ocean, like Ulysses did, in the hope that we will eventually reach…”home”.
I must confess that before leaving on this trip, so many obsessive thoughts, fantasies and fears passed through my mind, such as: I will get bored/depressed by myself; I will not be able to talk to anybody I will meet there, like all the relaxed and cool people I met on my travels were doing so easily; I will be on the news: raped, body not found; I will have an affair (or more?) with a local fisherman, very suntanned and with blue eyes (yea, this is what they are pouring into our heads with all those romantic movies); I will meet the love of my life, but we will not exchange phone numbers or emails and we will spend the next ten years looking for each other in real life and on facebook (hint: I am a big fan of the movies Before Sunrise and Before Sunset…and of Ethan Hawke 🙂 ) .
So on that day when I had to wake up and 3 am to take the bus to the airport (and I knew that I had to figure out train, ships and buses in three cities in order to get to the camping in the Aeolian Islands, I felt like switching off the alarm, go back to sleep and drop the whole idea of this trip.
But two days after I got there without any problem whatsoever, on that evening I started to talk about, I wasn’t thinking of anything, in my mind there was silence and peace, no trace of all the fears I had at home (which proves once again, that the things we are afraid of are just in our head. But hey, don’t imagine that the next time I will ne more relaxed. Naah… there’s a long way to enlightenment).
I didn’t long to be anywhere else, I wasn’t making any plans, I wasn’t hungry nor thirsty, I wasn’t cold nor hot, I didn’t need to buy anything, to see anything, to go somewhere, to meet somebody or talk to somebody. I just existed. I told you , this rarely happens to me. I was staying on the beach with black pebbles, which left hundreds of round marks on my back, but I didn’t feel them at the time. I could hear the sound of the sea, sighing a few meters away from my feet. On the beach there was nobody, just the colorful fishermen boats pulled ashore. The bay was surrounded by dark barren mountains, over which the moon was rising. Sometimes a scooter was leaving a bright meandering trail in the darkness on the roads that were going up and down through the villages on the mountain. Far away, on the horizon, I could see the shadow of the Stromboli volcano with a grey cloud of smoke on top.
on the beach towel there were laying the remains of my dinner: a foccacia with olives and dried tomatoes, which smelled like heaven, sweet black grapes and two juicy peaches. There was also the book by Isabel Allende, that enchanted me with her Latin-American stories of love, death, fantasy mixed with real life, tragic destinies, told in a simple, soft and sad voice – her unmistakable style (I think you guessed by now that she is my all time favorite story teller). But the book was lying down now, as it was too dark to read. The air was cool and soft, like a caress on my skin that got burned during the day, on the boat that I took to visit another island in the archipelago.
And maybe that’s why – trying to figure out how to tell you about that evening on the beach in the Aeolian Islands, I thought of Carlos Castaneda’s book (yea, when I grow up I will say it in my own words 🙂 .
I think this is the state he was taking about, when you take a distance from the world, so that you don’t exhaust it, or yourself, or the people you love. Does it make sense? I believe that in moments like this we recharge, we reconnect to our selves, so that afterwards we can come back to our world with renewed energy, having something to give. Or well, at least this is how I felt. Like the ebb and flow of tide.
I think by now you realized I only lured you with this title about the Aeolian Islands. I haven’t said a word about great adventures, exotic islands
scuba-diving, flirting Italians :D, active volcanoes, cliffs, bays, sea food, archaeology, deep blue sea, white terraces, oleanders, the God Eolus (where the name of the islands comes from)…but I hope the photos will speak for themselves. And of course, it leaves room for future stories. And as a teaser, I just want to mention that I will soon present you my little personal photo project that I did in the Aeolian Islands about number plates on the houses.
See you soon.
If you liked it, tell your friends too 🙂 Thanks.
For the Romanian version of this article go here