Somewhere on the other side — Short stories written under the Aegean sun — Get your FREE COPY!

June 9, 2012
Somewhere on the other side — Short stories written under the Aegean sun — Get your FREE COPY!

Somewhere on the other side — Short stories written under the Aegean sun — Get your FREE COPY!

Il paradiso terrestre isola del vento I/III

June 17, 2017

“Il buon Dio è nei dettagli” / “The good God is in the details”

For me, my soul, entering Sardinia turned to be a bloody uphill battle eventually. I had been on the road, land and sea, practically since March and August was closing in a few days. I also was surprised while being pretty low on travelling budget. On top of this I did finally confess to myself; homesickness was engraving my innermost with wicked sharp claws. At the end of a day there was exactly two options left. Either I would boldly step on Sardinian soil, travel and finally sit to the southmost tip of it. On anticipated heaven on earth. The other option was to take the next flight from Campo Dell Oro, Ajaccio, directly to Ellinikon International Airport, Athens. With these options and need to decide I simply flipped a coin with only one consolation along the legendary words of Mr Eugene Francis Krantz “Risk is the price of progress.”

Heads or tails! One thing I know, no God or destiny decided on me. It was all happening by chance. I would not end sitting penniless on a foreign beach but fly east and catch a ferry to home. Yet sounding crazy I felt endlessly disappointed while simultaneously being joyous happy.

At that point I started executing basic “quick’s the word, and sharp’s the action” order in wish not to regret the guidance of my only material Corsican souvenir, 1762 4 soldo silver coin with mermaids, purchased from coin shop in downtown alley Bastia. The next thing after receiving boarding pass and walking trough to literally non-existent security check was exquisite Bloody Mary cocktail at the bar. The celery tasted sweet like in Corsican country soup and rich tomato juice gave the looks of blood. I let that be blood of my vicious battle solved by mere coincidence.

The flight from Ajaccio to Athens took about two hours. After few Bloody Marys I did sleep like a mummy right till the landing. I almost felt sorry for those who were hit by my massive snoring. Flight landed Athens during very early hours at 2:45 AM. The ferry, I expected to catch from Piraeus, would not leave until 19:00 PM with more than 16 hours of expected sailing ahead until finally landing at Rhodes.

I had plenty extra time and pretty little to do. After dozing some four hours at the airport terminal I took Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways, actually of the oldest metro lines in the world, to Piraeus port. At 7:00 AM I took two phone calls. I needed to collect some courage for the first one for home. It ended with no answer. The second call was addressed to Helene and Ned Andersen’s house to check if I still had the boat. Boat was there but on a cruise at the moment! Some strange square head from Germany had been urging to cruise Daphnes Lullaby for the whole month of August and was expected to be back soon. Actually, the whole season had been one incredible success so far. It seemed that the crew had booked full season after not being aware of my location or well-being. The sailing crew had been anxiously at work, less waiting for any sign of me. Running business the whole summer they had started shortly after my departure. They had collected money as it was coming in the form of good customers and asking fewer reasons for this unexpectedly good wind. This, at least, was the message how I received it from good old Ned.

It turned out to be more of money on my bank account that I even realized. I had not checked the amount of deposits after leaving Greece. All the money I had over my trip I had in cash. I needed to do some financial accounting exercise and decided to get back to Athens for overnight at least. It was necessary to visit the bank and check if this big surprise was even real. If it was, then the crew would have wealthy bonus and maybe I could actually do some shopping?

So I went back to Athens for banking but prior to that ended up in one small breakfast cafe at Syngrou Avenue. I had a cup of coffee and croissant with Greek morning sun over the parasol. I also enjoyed some yoghurt with wonderful home-made Glyko Karpouzi. The preserved watermelon rind just takes your sweet tooth away. I could not help but it also reminded me of Bob. My dear soul mate and long time friend who suffered fatal accident here in Athens not so many years ago. His remains may rest in distant bay, St Xnamya bay in between Kalymnos and Pserimos, yet his soul will always stay with me. Rest in peace, Bob.

National bank of Greece did have a surprise for me. I guess the successful overhaul of Daphnes Lullaby had made my captain and boatswain somewhat proud of the old lady and instead of fair pricing they had tripled the cost of cruising. They had also made a bold move for having the berth practically opposite to Central Port Authority of Rhodos close to church of Ekklisia Evaggelismos. This was an advantage when fighting over the day trip cruise customers. Luckily there had been many of those who wanted to spend more time cruising the Mediterranean archipelago.

After calculating all wages and good-sized bonus for seasonal work to the crew I still had the account balance in amazingly good condition. I felt my awakening business pride though sitting there in a big banking hall with my shorts and shabby T-shirt on. I might have looked more like a hobo than affluent businessman. Nevertheless, account balance looked fine and I was clearly ready to redeem yet one of my dreams before going back home.

All I needed to do was to visit nearest travel agency and I was sold. Alitalia flies from Athens to Fiumicino and further to Cagliari, Sardinia few times every day. The time to reach Sardinia is less that four hours with one stopover in Rome. I selected one week stay without accommodation and headed back to the Ellinikon International Airport. My head was hurting, I was tired and in need of good night sleep. No hope of such until on the island of my desire. I did have a few hours nap before Alitalia was departing back to west at 14:45. I had spent 12 hours in Athens, visited port of Piraeus and almost bought ticket to the ferry back to Rhodes. One phone call had reversed my target of travel back to the island I thought I would never manage to step on. I had done some shopping for new backpack and clothes, performed little inventory for my supplies and finally left my luggage to the long-term storage. I decided to travel light as it was only one more week expected. Passport, toothbrush and wallet were the necessities needed. Well, I also had a book of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, a lengthy narrative poem written by Lord Byron and my trusty Aiwa AIWA HS-PX101, some batteries and new headset. Suddenly I was quivering of eagerness and determined to meet my earthly paradise at Sardinia.

The Moon is up, and yet it is not night,—	
  Sunset divides the sky with her,—a sea	
  Of glory streams along the Alpine height	
  Of blue Friuli’s mountains; Heaven is free	
  From clouds, but of all colors seems to be -
  Melted to one vast Iris of the West,	
  Where the Day joins the past Eternity;	
  While, on the other hand, meek Dian’s crest	
Floats through the azure air,—an island of the blest!

The flight to Rome FCO went by in a jiffy. In a quite modern airport bar I browsed thru the menu. My body was in so confused state it was craving for English muffins topped with good slice of ham, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. Eggs Benedict and large coffee would have made it but I was to settle with savory cheddar pancakes topped with fried egg. That was actually just fine, light enough not to upset my stomach yet nutritious. Coffee and especially the flavored tomato juice got me finally awake even it was late afternoon.

There were not many passengers continuing to Sardinia so transition to next flight was smooth and uncomplicated. I experienced strange and mournful dream of Ho 229, the first flying wing to be powered by jet engines by Gothaer Waggonfabrik late in World War II. It’s really strange how many great inventions have emerged from brutality of killing other human beings.

We landed on almost three kilometers long runaway of Cagliari Elmas Airport early in the evening. I did expect to spend a full day entering the medieval past and Roman roots of Cacliari before going any further. Especially the exquisite Santuario e Basilica di Bonaria and Cathedral of Santa Maria. A Roman amphitheatre of Caralis, partially carved in the rock as well as the Bastione San Remy and finally the town’s medieval castle, The Castle of San Michele.

As I was travelling remarkably light I took an airport taxi but instead of following my travel agency recommendations not to Hotel Regina Margherita, a four start accommodation in the heart of Cacliari. Instead I asked the taxi for affordable one night stay near town centre. He immediately suggested, B&B on Viale Trieste. He explained like an experienced travel guide, in pleasant fluent English, all the advantages of this residence of his cousin. The place was to reside nearby Cacliari train station and not far from the harbor. Just what I thought would be good starting point. Though at first, I was to have a good night sleep to recover from all travelling back and forth to east and west.

The Sardinian weather in September was nice. Still warm days only slightly cloudier sky than during previous months. Also while in July and August the temperatures would reach all the way up to 38°C, the temperatures during September should be around 24-26°C. I did expect Sardinia to be at its best when the hordes of tourists had mostly left back to their boring offices. Furthermore, Sardinia is also known to be the windy island. This is due to the summer mistral blowing warm winds that come from the north-west making the land and vegetation eventually dry out. Other wind like the Levant generally enter during the summer from south-west. It brings winds all away from Northern Africa with good moisture from Mediterranean. Later, the Scirocco, a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara, start blowing. This wind might last anything between a half a day or even several days at a time.

Cagliari turned out to be one fascinating city with all great sightings, marina quarter and amazing beach. One of my favorite scenes opened up at Capo Bellavista lighthouse (1866), next to Torre di Calamosca, looking south all the way to Tunis beyond the horizon. It beams two white flashes every 10 seconds at height of 165 meters from sea level. The base is a 2-story house that has square cylindrical tower with lantern on top of it.

I also visited Santuario e Basilica di Bonaria, on Piazza Bonaria, It is simple looking small fourteenth-century church, originally the chapel of the fortified citadel built by the Aragonese, which today is on the left side of the actual basilica. The sanctuary has some chapels and altar with fourteenth-century wooden statue of the Madonna and Child. There are multiple objects donated in the sanctuary, often hung on the side walls. Especially one quite old item, a small ship of ivory. The legend tells that it became pilgrimage destination of the fishermen in the area. The ship was expected to show direction of currents and upcoming wind.

While standing outside the basilica facing the facade and looking the latin text engraved high above the three entrance doors it read

“DEO OM IN HONOREM B MARIA VIRE DE BONARIA DICATVM ANNO DOMIN MCMLIV”

Unfortunately Latin was never my strongest asset so practically the only thing I was able to translate was the roman numbers MCMLIV. I thought it would be year 1954.

Sardinia offers countless alternatives for exquisite beach holiday. Villasimius, for instance, offers splendid getaway practically just a round the corner to east from Cacliari. Villasimius region is a good one hour ride from the town on a peaceful day. Facilities are good, plenty of restaurants and spotless sand beaches. If you decide to follow the shoreline towards south from Cacliari, there are areas around Chia blessed with fine beaches just 55 km from Cacliari. The most famous must be Su Giudeu Beach. Crystal clear waters and wonderful soft sand is waiting for tired traveller. My target, however, was Tuaredda beach at the southernmost tip of Sardinia. Well, actually Faro Capo Spartivento is on the southernmost tip of the island. It is a lighthouse built-in 1866 located practically at the midpoint from Chia to Spiaggia di Tuerredda. It is also one of the oldest lighthouses still in operation in Sardinia. The house itself is about 19 meters in height and the signal light is over 80 meters from sea level. It is expected to be unmanned as automated during 1972.

My plan was ho rent a car, preferably a four-wheel drive. To be honest I was not looking for any Toyota but more like legendary Land Rover Series III that was built from 1971 to 1985. I could imagine me driving one across Sardinian country with dark green colour and white rooftop and wheels. I think these cars ended up being the most common Series vehicle with over 440 000 units manufactured. To be realistic, who would have such for rent these days? They were just too old already. So I quietly kind of upgraded my desired vehicle thinking it would not hurt to have one baby underwear blue Range Rover Classic either. This was a lot more comfortable 4×4 luxury car with modern technology. I recon they were manufactured somewhere between the years 1970 and 1995. It might be possible to find one though I did not imagine it would be as easy it turned out to be.

B&B of Viale Trieste turned out to be a gem among accommodation in Cacliari. Actually it was all thanks to the taxi driver’s cousin Bertu Mentura. Mr Mentura was a born businessman and tradesman. This room I had for two nights only was not the only source of income he was involved. He had several apartments, butchers shop and on top of that, you know what, car rental and service garage.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2017).

Cheerio

Towards Sardinia

January 28, 2017

“Difference in between charity and philanthropy is when a kind-hearted gives hungry person a fish then a philanthropist is teaching them how to fish.”

I have had my share of travelling on train but every now and then it is a necessity. It is around 100 km as the crow flies from Bastia to Ajaccio and another 50+ km if you travel by car. Railroad is 158 km long to be exact. The scenery was my main reason for choosing train thru town of Corte. Driving at Corsica I had experienced already and now it was time to see the views and not to worry next corner road construction surprises. I also pondered, for a short time, if I could manage to catch a plane and fly over Corsica to Ajaccio. Viewing those colossal mountains from above would certainly make a highlight of my voyage on this less than 10 000 square meter island. Sticking to original plan with train was, however, more or less stipulated by my wallet.

This Railways of Corsica (CFC) train is pale white with blue stripes and has four separate wagons. They have also red with yellow stripes but these are used on beach express tracks from Calvi. I should have actually visited Calvi town. If not anything else then just to see the ancient remains of a house wall that is claimed to be a wall of the actual house where Christopher Columbus was born. Well, this is a legend that practically none can prove. According to history books Columbus was born 1451 in the territory of the Republic of Genoa.

Missing to visit Calvi was not worth regretting since I had quite unfortunately missed too many other fascinating sites already. Yet I managed to visit one fabulous one right before stepping onboard the train. Oratoire de la Confrérie de Sainte Croix is a small chapel that lies in the heart of Terra Nova. It holds a black crucifix of Christ that was, according to the legend, found tucked in a fishing net of fishermen in 1482. This hidden treasure was suggested by the clerk at the train ticket office as I was questioning what would be the place to still visit before train was leaving in three hours. I really cannot explain the interest of visiting these chapels and churches but this definitely turned out to be one spectacular place not to miss by anyone being in Bastia town.

There is a gloomy and dark, 1422 meter long, tunnel of Torreta soon after train station. It actually starts the three and half hour journey with Chemins de Fer de la Corse, onboard train number 23 from Bastia to Ajaccio. I had certain anticipation in my heart for meeting some of the magnificent mountains, Gustave Eiffel’s steel built viaduct at Vecchio and finally almost four kilometers long tunnel at Vizzavona. It would have been great to have time to check up these by walk, well except for the tunnel, of course. At the time of leaving Bastia I did not know what was coming to me so I just relaxed and stared out the railway wagon window.

The view is sedative to eyes as green trees rush here and there occasionally opening a broader scenery to mountain tops in the distance. It is pretty and welcoming sight making me happy to explore even more. While stretching myself on the train seat, I finally realise how much better opportunity this is for a traveler to enjoy when compared to taking the same trip by rented car. I really love driving around but it’s all about keeping eye on the road and traffic and a lot less to the views. Sure one can, and always should, stop for greater examination of the landscape. That is too easy to forget as getting to the destination seems to be more important. Yet it is not about the destination but the journey, as they say.

The train wheels generated a mild screech when the train went thru slight curves. It was amazingly comfortable ride, though, when considering the age of the train. Windows were big for good view and even the seat was certainly not among the most comfortable I still was really enjoying it all. I had some apples, brocciu cheese and thin slices of prizuttu ham to go with a few thick slices of buttered Corsican loaf and bottled water. Brocciu cheese is as I know, considered as one of the national food in Corsica. One of the great features of it is that brocciu does not contain lactose. I don’t personally have any issues but for lactose intolerant persons this is a surprising delicacy which can be fully enjoyed without any unpleasant disadvantages. What an ideal lunch box after busy morning. I felt a bit hungry wondering where, how and whom with to enjoy it. There is an old African saying: “Do not let us eat alone.”

In my life I’ve met people with varying looks. Small kids so pretty as easter bunnies, gorgeous looking women leaving you speechless and men so ugly they had to shave in the dark. A few seats ahead of where I was sitting, facing towards me, I saw two young girls. One lean and brown-skinned, with boyish short sand colored straight hair. The other had lit radiant skin and dark brown long curly hair. They were excitedly looking out the window and communicating the scenery with someone who sat opposite them. For some odd reason I imagined they reminded me of two daughters of Le Patourels. This is of course a recollection from book, Green Dolphin Country. An epic story of two sisters living on the Channel Islands in the mid 1800’s, and the man they both love. Green Dolphin Country by Elizabeth Goudge was, more than 700-page monolith, book of my childhood. From there I can also recall the mother of daughters, Sophie Le Patourel, sophisticated woman, horrified by bustle and vulgarity and noise which George Stephenson’s terrible steam engine caused hurtling people to destruction at twenty-five miles an hour.

The train kept going slowly but steadily along the railroad. Our journey seemed to take longer than it actually was. Happy wobbling from side to side prepared a cradle for my sweet afternoon nap. Yet I tried to keep eyes open, having a pistachio out of my pocket every now and then. I should not fall in sleep now. I had been eagerly waiting to see one sensational landmark of Corsica. Gustave Eiffel, a French civil engineer and architect, had his engineering skills used at Corsica as well. Le Pont Eiffel is the largest viaduct built between 1890 and 1892, in fact, a rail bridge and stretching more than 170 meters over the river Vecchio. This magnificent 84 m high construction is completely built out of steel metal. It was built for a small train named le Trinichellu, a link in between Bastia and Ajaccio. Later in 1827 a road bridge was also built below Le Pont Eiffel, for all other vehicles. Le Pont Eiffel was named as a “Monument Historique” on 29th July 1976 and classified in 1992.

Then suddenly I felt the train slowing down remarkably. There it was. We were travelling over river Vecchio! What a scenery, what a construction. I was honored to feel the presence of Gustave Eiffel and his team in every bolt and each rivet. “Je vous souhaite les salutations!”

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2017).

Cheerio

Farewell to Corsica II/II

October 31, 2015

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” -Margaret Drabble

As I was already gone so far thru the land of Corsica that I definitely felt urge to view the scenery of Cap Corse from land as well. “S/Y Sunride” had carried me and the impassable hospitable family of Van Emst beyond Cap Corse, yet I wanted to encounter the vista of sea over to eternity. With rented Lambretta scooter I drove the route about 55 km from Bastia to Macinaggio and up north to Barcaggio village.

The mountainous landscape descends to the blue sea and soon I was on narrow strip of white sand beach right to east from Barcaggio center. There was a lot of boats and yacht attached to buoys on that bay. The Ile de la Giraglia erects there in distance. It is known for the lighthouse and for the Torra di Giraglia. That is a Genoese tower also among the official historical monuments of France.

There is an annual Mediterranean regatta held in June, named after the island of Giraglia, established by three men René Levainville, Franco Gavagnin and Beppe Croce. The race starts from St. Tropez, France passes the island of Giraglia, and then finally finishes off in Genoa, Italy. It has been held annually since 1953 and since 1977 it has been known as “Giraglia Rolex Cup”. This 243 nautical miles long regatta may be considered the largest offshore sailing event in the Mediterranean with over 200 sailing teams participating internationally.

There was a good-sized trailer on the beach having large speakers playing Highway to Hell out loud. AC/DC recorded legendary Highway to Hell early 1979. Now, this is a tune that really cannot be passed by without noticing. Unfortunately, as I recall, the talented singer, Bon Scott perished just about six months after the song was released. RIP.

I ended up having bowl of deep-fried small fish with lemon and spicy olives. The view was just glorious. Just like one would expect easy-going summer day by the sea-shore to be like. I decided to rent a sun chair and in the shadow of parasol I’ll took an opportunity to read few chapters of Lear’s Journal of a Landscape Painter. Farther the greatest white soul singer alive sang her first solo single. I was soon dozing in delightfully warm breeze.

Later the day I took the scooter another 15 km ride to the west cost Port de Centuri. At this place we already visited with Elms family, though I regrettably skipped going onshore. Visiting the port had haunted me since and this was an opportunity not to miss. While driving slowly across the countryside I looked any fields around in hope spotting visible crop circles in the hay. Actually I would most likely felt sheer naked fear to find out anything similar as around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire county, in southwest England. They have reported hundreds of complex figures found on fields there. This has been going on already since 1970 and later spread practically all over the globe.

Crop circle related studies has taken place since the very beginning and there are varying opinions all over investigators. Majority acknowledge them mostly as pure hoax and public environmental art. Yet not all. The subject is fascinating and I’m a sucker for more scientific studies. I did not spot anything but plain crops raising from the earth just as it is expected to happen. Should I have found something it would have messed my live anyway, so I had warm gratitude in my heart while finally reaching village of Centuri.

I have to admit that all the grey houses of this place were pretty terrible looking. They might have used little more vivid colors while whitewashing their homes. Lack of colors makes this village somewhat dull looking despite of the terrific scenery over the sea. Overall view is telling the truth about negligence and poor state of silent fishing village. When compared practically to any French or Italian small village the looks of this place is ashamed of its existence. Yet, I must admit, it’s all worthwhile of seeing. Contrast in between blue skies, sea and this rocky shore is just too overwhelming. This is pretty typical to old Corsican fishing villages, though. It was also the time of the year when nature is really drying out and getting brown and grey and it does not unfortunately help at all. There was a thought that I should have gone to the inlands where it’s more green.

One little drawback to my Corsican voyage seemed to pop my awareness more and more often. I was heavily but happily late with my, practically nonexistent, schedule and yet I was here goofing around some tiny villages on a scooter. Maybe I was not to make it to Sardinia at all but rather head straight home by taking the next plane from Aéroport de Ajaccio Campo Dell’Oro also named Ajaccio Napoleon Bonaparte Airport. Then again, what was I thinking now? Letting to go when reached so far already? Please excuse me, you wicked subconscious part of my mind. I was not to surrender voluntarily. Even it would mean that I would make sacrifices in terms of seeing it all. I finally started to realise that even a whole summer would not be sufficient for discovering all parts of Corsica the way I had dreamed. I could only comfort this hurting reality with light wishes of unknown return.

Despite of these internal struggles I made one night reservation in Le Vieux Moulin hotel that has quite exceptional views to the Centuri town harbor. After two Negroni cocktails I was ready to eat light shellfish mix with variety of tidbits and for some totally odd reason I started imaging about angels on horseback. Nice bottle of Vermentino made me eventually decide. Sardinia was calling me and I should not resist any longer. As said I could spend the rest of my life here but would never get rid of the haunting Sardinian whisper. Starting early morning I should have only one goal and that target was lying at the southmost tip of Sardinia island.

That decision finally clear in my mind I went for a long walk to the port of Centuri, Tried to pick the spot we had been moored and sucked around the serene views with my eyes hurting. Stepped on the pier constructed in the 18th century. Visited the Saint Antoine Chapel located nearby for silent moment. Being an agnostic makes me pretty neutral for prayers but there was a certain voiceless wish in my mind that I sent to all the holders of the worlds.

“Please, release me to go beyond.”

Next morning, after quite restless sleep, I woke up early. It must have been less than four AM when I packed my toothbrush and left the key to the counter of empty reception. On my way to the scooter I saw early seabirds screaming in the morning sun, picked three ripe and mellow pear-shaped citrus from the hotel garden and rushed for Bastia for the next train to Ajaccio.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2015).

Cheerio

Farewell to Corsica I/II

September 13, 2015

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi

During the following few days I went to Musée de Bastia, being originally established back more than a century ago. The Governors’ Palace was as magnificent as ever expected. While wandering around those great stone walls I inevitably ended learning some philosophical self-study.

recluse |ˈrekˌloōs; riˈkloōs; ˈrekˌloōz| noun –
a person who lives a solitary life and tends to avoid other people.

I sure can live with that definition, however, I don’t know if that is the most dominant feature of my person. I believe that it’s only one part on myself while others are being several. During a longer holiday, especially if not traveling, it is good time for some slow-down and self-examination. This time I was travelling, for a longer period already but obviously got philosophically inspired along realising the shear nullity of my existence. Inside this marvellous structure I, however, felt like losing myself in sanctuary. Fully escaped from the rushing world out there.

Being accurate and punctilious are strong values in my scale. Sometimes I wonder how did these features go out of the fashion so vaguely? When did it happen that being accurate was considered disadvantage and uselessly pedant? I find natural penchant to act and speak sincerely and in earnest, rather than in a joking or living in half-hearted manner. Disliking jibe still does not prevent myself falling into sarcasm and irony much too often, though. I sure get insulted quite easily, but only when some trusted person is to keep me as fool. I don’t practically give too much of attention to what unknown individuals think of my acts or presence.

For some of us, sounds, smells and different sensations caused strong reactions. It is believed that around 20 percent of humans are specifically sensitive people. Yet it is not diagnosed as a disease, but the nervous system feature. I’ve noted getting easily distressed and feeling strong compassion when I pick little child’s inconsolable cry. Steady or unsteady clanking noise, knocking or clicking makes nerves get to the surface quite easily. Background noise often prevents me from following the discussion on the phone. It may be the lousy mobile as well but having a slight tinnitus certainly does not help. I should have protected the hearing already far in my youth.

Having a short temper is very unfortunate but I have learned and will calm down quickly. I sometimes feel deepest remorse and the need for reconciliation. Still I don’t tend to worry too much. Trying to be perfect is unluckily incorrigible feature and can only be helped when realizing that it is most often to no purpose. Above all dream a lot. Positive, sunny and beautiful dreams. In that extent that I truly believe in sayings and lyrics like in the song “You only live twice”. Occasionally I would just wish to follow the guideline of Dr. Samuel Johnson: “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” I don’t think I could never be viciously unkind person, though.

As long I can recall I’ve been fond of beautiful objects. For example, it does not differ if a beautiful vase or a model steam engine is in question. This is inherited feature. My parents did always select pretty things around them. So I had a bit of practise already while growing up. The older I have grown the more I tend to pay attention to the subject but I sure agree that the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Every now and then I realise that I find something fascinatingly beautiful even though most people do not agree at all. Practicality is one issue for certain but you know, I can go and buy an acid proof stainless steel fixed snap shackle just for the great looks of it. I could imagine doing that even without owing a boat to hook it. Silly me.

Sometimes I have dreamed of having a bright-colored shiny new surfboard just for hanging that on the wall or purchasing brand new long board for vestibule decoration. This is obviously nut crazy idea since I never even discovered ability of skating and the only skaters in my life actually were the kids of neighbourhood long time ago. But I was thinking not to skate at all. I thought just enjoying the great craftmanship and excellent beauty. It’s the inbuilt designer in me, I believe.

The same urge goes for music. I’ve listened all kind of music and artists but I have only had one true love. Since childhood I have loved piano music. Most likely due to my mother as she often used to play piano. At least every Christmas she would go thru all note books in-house. I find it a bit odd it was never discussed if I wanted or better yet needed to have piano lessons? Viewed from the distance I might have had genome for that. On top of this I have been told that my grandfather was locally famous of his talent with violin. It must have been something in his youth since I sadly never recall him playing anything.

The weather has been the crown of this whole trip. Especially on this evening it really seemed to be very promising. It was almost dark by the time I finally departed from The Governors’ Palace and entered the warm but especially dry evening in town of Bastia. It’s amazing what one is able to spot from clear night sky. Avoiding artificial light sources and seek good places for findings in the sky is essential. The first thing I’m usually able to spot is Ursa Major. Staring at the deep blue night sky often reminds me about Arthur C. Clarke, the creator of 2001: A Space Odyssey. He was the man to popularize Herman Potočnik’s idea of geosynchronous satellites. I think Clarke was an extraordinary science fiction author and futurist. Looking at the distant stars made me also ponder several other things. Like the current stage of space elevator and research for good enough carbon nanotubes. Then again, what if Lofstrom loop would be something far more easy to achieve?

This night I was able to spot three separate satellites cruising over the firmament within half an hour. The first was going towards north, second towards northeast and the last traveled towards southeast. All these had very similar velocity. For me, it takes some time to get the eyes readjusted in the darkness as I belong to the one-third of population with slight myopia. What I have noticed is that averted vision works great with satellites when trying to follow them on their trajectory. You can also detect motion better with your peripheral vision, since it is primarily rod vision. As a matter of fact, rod cells are almost entirely responsible for night vision.

While stargazing, like often, I waited for a falling star to appear. And then it finally did! Really good and several seconds long bright meteor flared over my head from northwest towards southeast. I actually do not know why is it that people wish upon falling stars. I guess I have learned this habit from my parents. They claimed that if you wish upon a falling star and keep the wish to yourself and do not tell anybody then it might turn out to be true. Well, I did and the results remain to be seen.

Maybe even before heading onboard the train from Bastia to Ponte-Leccia junction and all the way to Ajaccio.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2015).

Cheerio

“Cherry Pie”, whoo-ah!

June 13, 2015

Arriving to Bastia is evidently happening after long night drive. With a modern vehicle this all would have been an insignificant task. Citroën 2CV, however, was much different due to old age. Yet it was just what I had ever wished since these cars really are distinctive and soulful pieces of engineering.

The road is getting somewhat crowded and I thank myself for not spending another night at any campsite. I think it’s time for small celebration and luxury at this point of traveling. The trip actually went along a lot easier than ever anticipated. The road was empty during the late hours despite of a few local drives speeding familiar routes merely like bats out of hell. The headlights helped very little and I was slowing speed even more after every road side deer warning sign. Luckily there were no encountering with animals crossing the road. I did have one break for admiring the deep blue night sky that often reminds me about Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, the co-writer of the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey movie. He was also the man to popularize Herman Potočnik‘s idea of geosynchronous satellites. These objects are located on geosynchronous orbit, also called a Clarke orbit, at altitude of approximately 35,786 km above earth sea level having an orbital period same as the Earth’s rotation period. So they practically stay in place relative to earth.

Corsica was totally magnificent and actually, just the way my doctor could have prescribed to my vagabond spirit. At night, lying under the deep blue sky of Corsica made me feel like I was visiting at the edge of the observable universe.

Entering suburbs of Bastia at early breakfast time is a relief and one of my goals on this trip. I am eager to visit the old palace of the Genoese governors, accommodating a museum of Corsican ethnography since 1952. My eyes also urge to see the fortress of Bastia and stay beside that old lighthouse just enjoying the scenery. Now being here at Bastia I probably cannot leave to Ajaccio, without taking a short side step to Cap Corse, the northernmost tip of Corsica with some exquisite palaces from 19th and 20th century. Before all that I wish to locate decent accommodation and proper serving for breakfast. Then afterwards I need to return the car. At early hours I had anticipated awarding myself with several warm cups of tea and large slices of succulent pies. Concluding the recent events of roller coaster like imagination running haywire must have been an aftermath of slight sunstroke received while hiking the hills of Solano.

I take the seaside way towards downtown. The scenery grows to be really good with calm sea and distant ships popping up among roadside palm trees. Slow cruising on streets of Bastia gives me good view of the town with varying architecture and condition. I have agreed to leave the car at the train station of Bastia and still well enough time just to drive around before Chemins de Fer de la Corse.

A single room from Hôtel Bonaparte at 45 Boulevard du Galerie Graziani should be good for two night stay. After leaving my luggage to the reception I take a drive to nearby railway station, leaving the car to my contact. I need to pay some extra for the damaged tyre and after the guy has checked everything else is in order I then pass the keys and give farewell to this ancient yet splendid companion. As I walk back to the hotel I seek for some possibility of having breakfast and there are plenty to choose from. Early in the morning it would have been just tea and some pie. Now I felt myself too hungry due it was closing to midday already and felt like being able to consume brunch as well.

While enjoying well laid brunch table servings and browsing advertisement of hikers track, Tra Mare e Monti Nord, 9 to 11 day long trail with daily distances in between waypoints varying from 8 to 20 km in length. Something quite fascinating but maybe yet not me. It takes more strength and gear than I posses. Instead of hiking I shall be anxious to go around Musée de Bastia and the Governors’ Palace before heading onboard the train from Bastia to Ponte-Leccia junction and all the way to Ajaccio.

This brunch serves cherry pie which is among the best I have ever had. Companied with green tea with honey and lemon inspires me sharing the recipe of old DIY Cherry Pie.

1 x 400g ready-made short pastry from the freezer
1 x 350g sour cherry in a glass jar
1 x 200g sour cream
1 x 50g caster sugar
2 x teaspoons of vanilla sugar
1 x fresh chicken egg

Let the oven warm up to 200 degrees Celsius. Grease the pie dish with butter and spread dough evenly all the way to the edges. Remove the juice of cherries. Combine all the rest of the ingredients separately, mix lightly. When the base is complete, add the cherries, and evenly pour over the cream mixture. Bake in the lower level of about 30-35 min.

Use loud enough timer for exact baking time. Allow to cool and solidify properly. Serve with hot coffee or favorite tea and vanilla ice cream.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2015).

Cheerio

Alien Bear Grin

February 1, 2015

Wisdom is to have dreams that are big enough not to lose sight when we pursue them! -Oscar Wilde

We leave Solaro early next morning and really force the pedal to the metal. The road continues straight as a ruler thru flat land towards north. We pass some fenced piece of land with occasional road side restaurants and hotels. The scenery is wide and restful. Mountains of inland to the left and burning sun on the right of us. Blue sky ahead is open for a sunny day. As the old beast of burden does pretty obviously not have any air conditioning we keep windows open. That is an excellent alternative since it really gives us feeling of open space and all the distinct aroma of beautiful and ever warming landscape. If our car was a normal 2CV then I could let the roof canvas down. The vehicle is, however, as previously noted, so called Fourgonnette van with hard top.

We soon leave Solaro completely behind and enter territoire de la Côtés des Nacrés by going over a bridge that crosses the dried riverbed from the mountains. This is the Travo river, a small coastal river, that takes source west of Monte Incudine, near the Bocca di Chiralba at 1743 meters above sea level and flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea between the towns of Ventiseri and Solaro. The Travo river is famous for kayaking and trekking among active tourists seeking real hand on experience on the landscape of Corsica. Village of Nacrés turns also as a delight to the eye and serves us alternative view after driving thru the countryside. The vaguely picturesque small community intrigues me and I would of course want to stop there even if for a few days. Instead we halt on the sandy open air cinema parking lot for a short overall view and then leave with a few turns around laughing while making dust. How stupid and useless but surprisingly amusing.

The National Road 198 passes the triple armor fence of air base 126 Ventiseri-Solenzara on the eastern side. Signs on the fence indicate restricted military zone with photographing prohibited. Why did they establish a high secrecy demanding airfield premises on such open area? There are two logical reasons I can imagine. The land is flat by default so building a runaway is easy. Also the service that is required in means of fuel and food and ammunition is provided by sea.

This NATO airfield runway is nearly 2650 meters in length and was established in 1960. It is currently serving as tactical training center. The garrison has about 950 persons and along them it can accommodate up to 40 fighter planes and 10 tactical transport aircrafts. Any airbase on these islands west from Italy practically reminds me of book Catch-22 and story of Captain John Yossarian serving as a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier.

Idea of visiting the airbase fascinates but then again how would we, plain tourists, be welcome without any official invitation. In addition to that we are in a rush. I cannot be without noticing the grin of an alien bear on my new co-driver’s shining green eyes. Most likely due to me being able to make those narrow 125×15 tires of old Citroën 2CV to scream occasionally. Quenza is a little green and furry teddy bear from somewhere quite far, I think. I had him picked up from the campground lost property corner since he demanded me to take him to the town of Bastia and make it fast. I did not question his reasons but without slightest hesitation grabbed him by the hand and there he is now riding shotgun as we scud thru the road of east Corsica passing roadside vineyards and all green country.

Quenza turns out to be one magnificent companion for keeping both of us in good spirits and awake on such a peaceful road trip. He is telling stories about a sound man of Grateful Death, Augustus Owsley Stanley the third, also known as Bear. I guess all extraordinary bears know each other by default. He lists the islands in the Mediterranean by heart and finally explains me the principles of Maxwell’s demon, all about violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics. When I think nothing could surprise me any more, Quenza clearly enjoys himself by describing the life of French leader of the UFO religion known as Raëlism, Claude Maurice Marcel Vorilhon. We then discuss vaguely about ancient astronauts, book of Ezekiel and end up to Greek dark ages by lunch time.

After tasty Pasta Norma and several glasses of cold water we are ready and eager to pick up where we left in driving and especially in conversation. We share our views of Pale Blue Dot, a picture snapped by Voyager 1 space probe, without forgetting astronomer and author Carl Sagan. We also discover and share the opinion that a voyage to planet Mars is something the human kind is nowadays anticipating with the same urge that made sailors from ancient Africa accidentally reach the shores of America and like people from South America that settled Polynesia. For them these voyages were meant to be one way only and even our bold technology keeps evolving the Martian explorers of future probably need to accept exactly same destiny still for quite long time.

We then come inspired to recite poems and I start by letting out loud one of my own.

“Further away of the sun-shade
on the yellow sand
turquoise surf waves hug and fade

Close behind the dark glasses
from the sunburnt hand
rosy dreams flow between the fingers

A candle turns weak in watch tower
with a sideswiped wand
the wind is free for a sea bird’s hover
– The victim in bed 7 is a gonner.”

Then Quenza replies improvising out of the moment.

“I hear light steps on my tomb
asking you to dance beside me
bringing joy of flowers to my day
and a blue prayer for the night”

The speed and extra strain probably affected to the next episode as we quickly learned to know how it feels to ride a 2VC with exploded front tire. Luckily it broke on shotgun side and did not force us in the oncoming lane but leaning heavily towards the wild bushes of roadside. After smoking breaks and branches striking the windshield it become very quiet for a little moment. While grasping my breath Quenza yells tears in his terrified eyes “Throttle Up! Feel that mother go!” I’m unable to comment anything more but “Now, let us pray for Shackleton.”

One flatbed truck slowed soon down ahead of us. The driver did not resemble my memory of Sir Ernest but he still offered for assistance. Feeling comfortable enough I shaked head to Quenza and he promptly replied with amazingly manly voice “Ne vous inquiétez pas, nous gérons bien. Merci!” from the shadow of our tiny vehicle. I was feeling a bit of ashamed of my lame French and felt admiration for my furry assistant. The left wheel tyre was ruined but rim looked intact. Spare wheel was in place under the bonnet and then we only needed to find suitable tools like jack and wheel nut wrench. It took us hefty fifteen minutes to change the wheel and check the car for any other damages. As we did not find any other visible problems we packed all tools and the exploded tyre back to the Citroën and accelerated back to the open road.

I really don’t know about Quenza’s sensation right after our accident but recalled that those words he yelled at halt, became known and famous from another accident of considerable devastating scale. The disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, as Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart after 73 seconds flight, leading to the deaths of its all crew members. Disintegration of the space shuttle began after an O-ring seal failing in its right side solid rocket booster. Design engineers later added a third O-ring seal to the joints between the segments due to this disaster. We came into a common conclusion with Quenza. It was easy to say but human kind and green teddy bears were evidently counting much too heavily on rubber rings of various size.

The commune of Ghisonaccia is the next step towards Aleria and Bastia. It has a population about 3000 and some of the best beaches on eastern Corsica. I cannot let myself down by missing the sea shore despite of Quenza’s urge to Bastia. We agree a quick side step to beach thru Route de la Mer. At first we think to take a left turn that would lead us to camping U Casone. It has been here since 1972 with good reputation but after discovering from the map that it is not directly on the beach, we instead continue the road ahead as that should end to the sea.

After spending good time in the sea I grab a portion of moules frites with bottle of water to go from the little beach restaurant. I notice Quenza still sleeping in the shade of Citroën. I could take a nap as well but while being hungry I first finnish my pot of Belgian national dish and suddenly realize having more things common to Belgians than just Tintin. With full stomach I lay down in the shadow of 2CV trunk actually spacious enough even for two person.

I wake up shivering at very late dinner time. The night has fallen and no matter where I look Quenza is nowhere in sight. After a while I spot a piece of paper under the windshield wiper. It’s a handwritten note from Quenza. “Did not want to wake you. I need to rush for Bastia and sorry to say, decided to hitchhike with nice family leaving right away. Thank’s for the ride and pleasant companion. Yours truly, Quenza.” Whoo-ah! That little green teddy bear really was in a hurry!

I don’t feel especially confident in driving on foreign road under pitch black night sky but after exceptionally long afternoon nap I don’t actually have too many good alternatives. What would I do here anymore? After studying the map I decide to continue at least to Moriani-Plage some 50 km north. Carrying enough fuel and water even to Bastia I still try to keep a realistic target. The headlights of this old 2CV resemble two yellow candles on sides of the hood. After a short thinking and encouraged by the engine purring like a kitten I finally collect all grit and head to the darkness.

✽”For scientific discovery give me Scott; for speed and efficiency of travel give me Amundsen; but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.” – Sir Raymond Priestly, Antarctic Explorer and Geologist.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2015).

Cheerio

Corsica Landscape Learned (II/II)

December 27, 2014

This is Solaro, located in the department of Haute-Corse region. At the beach, next door Sole d’Or campground is a stele erected on beach in honor of the Corsican resistance against the Nazi troops until the liberation of Corsica on 4 October 1943, fifty years prior this mark was placed in year 1993.

“On this beach, in April and June 1943, Dominique Poli, Mayor of Porto-Vecchio, organized the reception of submarines from Allied mission for the general Paulin Colonna, precinct unifier of resistance Corsica.”

On the same beach and actually very near, is a small bar named Les Flots Bleus. It will be my asylum for next few hours. Sitting there, in shade of the terrace, I slowly realise how my life is now delightfully chained in geographical triangle of landscapes partially due to one mouth-watering ingredient in certain alcoholic beverages. Pimpinella anisum, the aniseed, is my weak spot when it comes to flavoring liquor. Pastis*, Sambuca and Ouzo draw a triangle in between their origins of production. No wonder I love it, this annual plant is growing native to the eastern Mediterranean.

There is a quiet TV at the bar playing a black and white film “The Corsican Brothers” featuring Douglas Fairbanks jr. I vaguely recall a trivia that among being an actor of very early age he also become a war hero during second World War. After some time, somewhere in between third and fourth glass of Pastis, I sit up and take notice that the same Italian tenor I hardly was able to hear earlier the day is played again in radio. The song is vigorously trying to make my drowsy consciousness to realize the Pastis colored milky moon slowly waking from the sea at the horizon. He sings with languorous voice Porto per poeti che non scrivonoPort for poets who do not write.

This is the place, I agree. Not necessarily one needs to write anything if the essence of existing poetry already lives everywhere so vividly it is sufficient to fulfill this hidden soul locker of poems. Then again, for some unknown reasons, maybe in order to keep their self-esteem together or to regain and keep one’s sanity, writing poems becomes a necessity for going forward. Still they may remain in one’s heart, unpublished and too fragile for the public but who can tell. The human history acknowledges many great explorers, men and women, possessing good qualities as writers and sometimes they have written poems too. Those I personally find the most attractive ones, the great writers of history, often saluted with certain envy but also with indescribable admiration.

The atmosphere is as pleasant like one can imagine after good set of aperitif in cooling evening while browsing the beef menu. I’m going to risk it all and select a tenderloin cut of beef served with sweet Corsican cheese flambéed in brandy. One would never think this is even possible to be served in such a petty place. Still it is listed and I live in hope this dinner will assure me good nights sleep with no more catastrophe nightmares.

Next morning the amazing mackerel sky is looking like painted organ solo in Light My Fire by the Doors. I’m close about to wake up despite of lethargy. The late night beef was excellent and obviously I had slept like a log until late in the morning in the shelter of Sole d’Or campground. After such fair amount of Aqua Vita on top of hefty beef I am not surprised to find the clock being over eleven. Dull headache makes me to take a day of from driving. I discover that my drinking definitely got out of hand but that is what sometimes happen. The razor edge could use a sharper blade and facing the bungalow mirror does certainly not appeal. Decent haircut and staying up less, especially with alcoholic companion would do me good, I find myself mumbling half aloud.

Instead of going north by car I decide to take a long walk up to the hills of Solaro with some picnic gear and food supplies. Solaro village is facing east on the hills about 8 kilometers from the main road junction. This is Le territoire de la Corse Orientale and I definitely want to have some bites going off the beaten path. Yesterday, while discussing few words with the local bar customers, I heard that there is little of natural park hidden along the road to the village. Nothing to do with wild meadows of good old Galehurst, I suspect but the idea of having a picnic under shelter of furry chestnut tree was “lure of little voices” to my wandering ears.

From the campground mini-market I select local salami and tomme de chèvre cheese, two tomatoes, a half a dozen figs, some white bread and a bottle of light and fruity white wine. I also purchase a large bottle of water and having guilty conscience come to think how disgusting habit it generally is to use bottled water in regions where one could consume tab water. I feel little stupid thinking all such but then decide to blame the hangover just to get it over. Previously, after all the sailing, I had purchased some new batteries in Porto-Vecchio for Aiwa Walkman. I did not dare to use it at all in such a humid environment but now it is loaded with a cassette of Jean-Luc Ponty playing full Aurora album from 1975. I’m mesmerized how the goddess of dawn presented in Roman mythology is converted to ear-pleasing jazz. I recall a magnificent illusionistic ceiling painting, fresco of Aurora by Guercino, in Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome. Guercino used effects like foreshortening to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on flat base. With that view in the recesses of my mind the walk goes upwards, along the ever-narrowing road towards the west.

Eight kilometer walk under toasty sunshine makes me sweat considerably. While entering the outskirts of the village I try to spot the 17th century church of San Giovanni Baptista on the eastern edge of the village. The vague information received from campsite reception is my only guide. I need to take a minute on a bench beside the road. There are some of these laid in places where one can spend a silent moment or two for admiring the peaceful scenery. The traffic is practically non-existing, Only two cars has passed me during the whole walk. No walkers, no bikers or anyone else. Continuing the last kilometer up to the village center reveals old rundown-looking gray stone houses, some whitewashed but only a few plastered in vivid color. Plenty of gardens, few of them remaining neglected. Finally village road has some people going around. It would be fun to chat with these peasants, if I only could Corsican or even French. Actually the use of Corsican over French has been declining and only about ten percent of population are using it as a first language.

They say that one of the most regretted thing among people lying on their deathbeds is that they never studied and learned more languages. Another regrettable thing was that one did not travel enough. I sure had been given good share of traveling this summer even walking here among Corsica landscape it feels much like reading “Les Aventures de Tintin” in French while enjoying only pictures but skipping all text. To be honest, it really feels a lot better due to the stunning scent of the macchia. Tintin, by the way, being the only Belgian I have made friends so far. Pardon my saying, the Belgians have always remained as a distant mix of Celtic and Germanic people to me. Almost the same applies to my conception about Belgian like what Edward Lear wrote about Albania “To the unlearned tourist, indeed, Albania is a puzzle of the highest order.” That said, I think I actually might still do something for removing this reason from my own list of regrettable subjects. How to manage that, I can’t dare to think, since I’m just in the middle of seeking old age core and line of my future for remaining years. Then, what is that actually? I’ve been going round the Europe in the past months and ended up walking in Corsica. Part of my senses say that I should really get back home for the autumn but the other part try to appease and just make me enjoy lightly the days of summer. Am I becoming homesick or what?

I’m not yet to announce the village of Solaro as a garden of Eden but this wonderful walk certainly makes me feel like quoting Voltaire, French philosopher “Le paradis terrestre est où je suis.” Returning down from the hill along narrow and meandering road while the trees occasionally give way to the front of the landscape of Parc naturel regional de Corse. Staying and resting in the shadow of shrubs and pines with my picnic snack makes me notice how local salami and cheese with tomatoes on top of bread restores my strength and drives any remaining headache away. Slicing rest of the salami and figs with my Laguiole knife, I decide it must be best to keep on going with the plan and shortly head north to Bastia. Instead of drinking any wine I take a few good gulps of warm water and wonder if I could even try to reach Bastia early tomorrow. Despite the hiking I really feel freshened and soon hurry back downhill to the campsite with brisk pace stretching my mind with interesting mythology and debate about the insect depicted on the back of the Laguiole knife. This is a high-quality equipment I seldom leave home without. What ever the legend truly is I’m still convinced insect is representing Aubrac cow fly.

* To be exact, Pastis is flavored with Illicium verum, commonly called star aniseed.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2014).

Cheerio

Corsica Landscape Learned (I/II)

October 26, 2014

It is a long time since I left the Carlo Riva Marina at the southern basin of the harbor of Rapallo with Van Emst family. Magnificent moments of the glorious voyage thru Corsica coast side are recorded and forever sealed in my memory.

I sit in a cafe & snack bar enjoying Pane Carasau, that is a traditional flatbread, with La Bottarga di Cabras, the roe of the Sardinian Flathead Mullet. It makes a genius snack. Especially that coming from the pond of Cabras. I know that I’m far from there yet and therefore need to start picking up pace with my journey. Afterwards, while enjoying a glass of noon brandy and one of my very last petit corona cigars, I hear the radio playing a tune from the past, “Second Chance”, a song by American rock band 38 Special. Something that really reminds me having a second chance of my own life. “All I made was one mistake, how much more will I have to pay?”

I have been born with short fuse which I have occasionally had to pay quite a bit. This feature, as I have learned, is something one can never completely weed out but you can always develop. In general the whole path of life seems to be just one steep walk on the line in between development and purgatory. I recall a very good definition about mentality of Mediterranean people. It was said that for example an Italian being sharp and punctual is taking that as an act of slavery while driving fast is an act of liberation. This explained quite a bit to me originating from faraway north. It was, however, far from driving fast for me this time. I had managed to hire an old 2CV Fourgonnette van “Weekend” version with removable rear seating. This made it possible for me to overnight in the car if so needed. It was an amazing relic from the good old days. Exactly like I preferred.

After discovering the old beast of burden I had rejected previous plan for having base camp in Porto Vecchio and instead decided to go round the island on counterclockwise direction by first driving the 2CV eastern side up till town of Bastia on the Tyrrhenian sea, looking the Tuscan archipelago. This would be around 150 kilometer trip that I should accomplish in three to four days. Surely, the 2CV could go the whole way in a single day, but why rush if we already come so far without any real schedule. Then I would say farewell to the Citroen and go onboard a train from Bastia to Ponte-Leccia junction and continue down to Ajaccio, which is terminus and capital in southwest of Corsica. This would eventually save me time and money while still discovering plenty of the island. We were having the first days of July already and my mind was grabbed by a mixed emotions by the fact that I had been lazy and goofing around Porto-Vecchio for way too long. I needed to get myself away from Corsica well before August when the masses of european tourist will arrive. I had not planned anything after Ajaccio but it would be great to sail to Sardinia, It did not need to be any similar blow of luck I had with Van Emst family but any decent ferry would do me fine. I had decided to leave this decision to be taken until on site at the harbor and take it all forward a day by day. In any case I had a distant dream of eventually meet the beaches of Porto Pino and Pinetto Porto and that Caribbean-like turquoise sea at the very southern tip of Sardinia. After all it was concluded that my heart definitely deserved a second chance.

I left Porto-Vecchio on 6th of June heading for Pont de Fautéa camping at Conca, a small strip of beach thru the commune of Lecci. I had decided that “my home is where my car is” would be my theme for this stage and Citroen was good enough vehicle to give some privacy and shelter for sleeping and that was practically all I needed. The ride was smooth as always on 2CV. Tiny engine purring steady like a kitten. I had the windows open and kind of regretted selecting such a hard top model but after all this was the best vehicle to offer long bed for sleeping. With up to date standard car this 30 km ride would take less than an hour. Today I was traveling more like at the speed of a scooter and it took me over an hour to reach Pont de Fautéa. They advertised the restaurant with fish specialties and as it was lunch time already I headed for fresh fish or even just a soup since it was really hot day again. Don’t get me wrong here. I really love hot weather and that never makes me complain. Well, at least if it will stay below + 35 °C.

The fish soup was actually very good with all the trimmings like stale bread, garlic and mayonnaise. Camping site itself was pretty modest. It seemed that some camping sites are like ten square meter supermarkets. Only the name reveals that they are actually for camping. Otherwise the traveller would not notice this when the difference to real camping facilities is such huge. I ended up far from complaining. The weather was like a dream and with filled stomach I had a bit of a snooze in the shadow of the restaurant terrace looking to very pleasant view towards the sea. While the moderately slow traffic passed by camping site, with some caravans and recreational vehicles, I had a somewhat ugly nightmare about the deadliest accident in aviation history at Tenerife airport. After waking up, I decided, it is going to be for some time before I shall have fish soup again. I also decided completely discard all TV content from now on. Especially any aviation documentary. This is something I have well used to since we have not had any television set at home for long since. After some refreshing gulps of freshly squeezed lemon drink I was slowly recalling a snippet of a poem and let myself back to the road and next camping site.

“The sea was sapphire coloured, and the sky
Burned like a heated opal through the air;
We hoisted sail; the wind was blowing fair
For the blue lands that to the eastward lie.”

I managed to select a radio station that played my favorites from the seventies. This was pretty odd but extremely amusing because these stations tend to play all modern tunes only. Today bands like 10cc, Journey and Thin Lizzy had their time in the air. It was around 30 km to beach side camping site Sole d’Or for the night and I really wanted to reach that during daytime. Nothing wrong with the nights though but I just did not wish to end up chasing this perch in the dark with these dull yellow headlights. Of course it is not impossible to overnight in the bush either but today I felt like having a shower and decent meal that would make my day. While driving the sunny coastline with old tunes from the past I started to think that if, as it’s been said, when perfection is no coincidence then were the hell all the young dolly birds? My wife had spent her time in southern France for some half a year already while it was originally supposed to be only a short vacation. She probably started wondering if there is coming back at all. Myself, I had been traveling here and there and starting to wonder exactly the same. Well, maybe longer separation would eventually clear the outcome of our relation. I tried to get rid of thinking the unpleasant issue of personal relationships and instead stay enjoying slow road and great scenery. The radio sound did suffer from little 2CV engine roar. Well, this, less than 400 cc, engine did not actually roar but was more like vaguely screaming in pain as we climbed some low hills. Luna by Alessandro Safina, however, vanished completely under the noise and become a part of the cacophony.

In 1909 Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton wrote in his book The Heart of The
Antarctic, “Men go out into the void spaces of the world for various reasons. Some are actuated simply by a love of adventure, some have the keen thirst for scientific knowledge, and others again are drawn away from the trodden paths by the “lure of little voices”, the mysterious fascination of the unknown.” I’m pretty convinced that the last definition is true in my case. Leaving for this completely unplanned voyage just happened. Like the most of the things in my life. Very little future was planned and even if so then these might still not have happened at all. Still I would not wish to determine me being at a loose end since even unplanned there has always been this “lure of little voices”.

Starting from Porto-Vecchio the Corsican east side views are no different to any other southern landscape of today. At July the scenery is still moderately green all over. Mountains stay port side inlands and paint the horizon with occasional white tops. The road is good quality even not among the widest ever seen. The speed limit varies from 70km/h downwards and occasionally there are warning signs of deer danger. Also multiple sighs scattered for commercial accommodation, villas, beach bars and restaurants. Practically the left side of the road is for private houses and right side for these services and grazing land. There are occasional bridges over rivers running from the mountains. These rivers are, of course, at mid-summer time more or less dry furrows. At places a power line pylons follow the road direction. The island has, in addition to traditional fuel power plants, various interesting energy projects of utilizing wind, sun and hydrogen power.

I was guided by a crumpled tourist map that I had grabbed somewhere in Porto-Vecchio. It showed that by boat shop Isula Marine Solenzara at junction of Solaro, I should turn right and drive Marine de Solaro up till the beach. At the junction there was a luring sing informing about Le Crocodile Bar and I could almost smell the Pastis. The road becomes narrow and follows the side of boat shops fenced storage area. There are some private houses on right side of road now straight as an arrow and eventually ending at parking lot right next to sea. I have reached camping Sole d’Or Les Flots Bleus, the blue waves that is and what an excellent place it all turns out to be. Before anything else I decide to park the vehicle and head towards Pastis at the beach bar in near distance.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2014).

Cheerio

As happy as Larry ever was

February 22, 2014

I long for eternity because there I shall meet my unwritten poems and
my unpainted pictures.
– Sand and Foam by Kahlil Gibran.

As the sun rose higher so did the temperature and it was soon over +25 degree Celsius. Pale turquoise sky, whether to call it French or Italian, rapidly turned in deep blue and the sea become azure-cyan color. Invigorating dive into embracing crystal made the body feel alive. Afterwards, while drying the soaked skin up on the teak deck, I tried to call to memory what was the equivalent temperature for +25 °C on Kelvin scale and came up with something little less than 300 K. Well, they should know it better at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, anyway, I concluded and fell into sweet haze of mid-awake reflection of Heisenberg uncertainty principle where the ghost of William Thomson tried to explain me details about triple points of water. “Son, you should have focused on serious thermodynamics instead of silly daydreaming!” yelled the magnificent Lord Kelvin, just prior to my awakening wince.

I had been a deck hand for “S/Y Sunride”, the invaluable expedition of Van Emst, for more than a month now. We had sailed over Corsica, Port de Centuri, Cap Corse and even Gorgona and Capraia on the eastern side of Corsica. The journey had been like one for a lifetime. Memories of lovely and graceful, young Ms. Amandiakis, the bureaucracy hell we did go thru before receiving the permission from the Italian Ministry of Justice to land on tiny Gorgona, snorkeling at marine sanctuary of Capraia, the splendid island of wine and succulent anchovies. Summer sailing around islands of the Tuscan Archipelago had been like an endless poem of life found in a row of small gemstones under the brightest sunshine.

“Voglio un piatto grande!”

At the guest harbor of Porto Vecchio I prepared late lunch, Trofie Pasta Liguria (Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans) on that day. I was to depart from Carrie’s and Joost’s hospitable company. This great vegetarian dish was served with good Vermentino from Patrimonio wine region located on the northern coast of the island. The wine completed perfectly our last meal together. At the same it concluded our common journey of discovering northern Corsica and islands. I owned a lot to this wonderful couple that so generously allowed me to join their journey. Carrie and Joost will stay in my heart, I love you guys.

A short quote from the first pages of Journal of a Landscape Painter in Corsica (1870), by Edward Lear, has become my favorite phrase while reading this book over again. It has already gained a lightly “dog-eared” appearance from being dragged around but the content is what matters.

“So, then, you were determined to come and see Corsica ? You have done rightly to hasten your visit, for in a very few years, thanks to the hand of progress and civilisation, they who come to seek for Corsica will not find it.” – The Corsican Brothers, a Dramatic Romance.

On the same writing Edward Lear describes his view of Porto Vecchio in a fascinating way by saying that being “more agreeable to a painter’s eye”

Porto Vecchio, about which I make an exploring ramble before entering it, is a place of forlorn appearance, with no little picturesqueness in its old gray walls and towers, but joined to a general look of decay, more agreeable to a painter’s eye than indicative of the inhabitants’ prosperity.

After lunch I felt a great unease heading forward with my planned journey by visiting the highest village of Corse-du-Sud, village of Ospedale, in the municipality of Porto Vecchio. I could also vividly imagine meeting the vineyards and hills in the sub-region of Vin de Corse-Figari of south west Corsica. I should most likely be fine by having a base camp in Porto Vecchio and doing day trips over the island. I finally grabbed my backpack and after short but heart-rending goodbye I stood in Porto Vecchio port quay. By following the theory of Edward Lear saying that “a study is next to impossible if you join a companion”, I went on studying Corsica inlands.

It’s too easy to lose the track of time, the days just go by. I had left for Athens on 3rd of April and it was almost mid of June already. I had come this far yet did not have had any space in my mind for being homesick. All that hit me while I was making towards town for searching some accommodation for the night. Therefore, in order to ease up my mind, I decided to look for the church of Saint John the Baptist near the central square of the old town.

Alongside the square there were cars parked, actually very tight, like they use to do in Italy mainland as well. One individual vehicle caught my full attention like no other man-made object I had seen for long time. Then I somehow heard a distant hum of Joe Walsh singing his “Life’s Been Good”. Tililippiin-thad-da-tililippiin-thad-da, My Maserati does one-eighty-five, I lost my license, now I don’t drive… There it was. Blue like Corsican sky, a 1976 Maserati Kyalami with Italian, black and white old school, license plates and 4.2 litre V-8 engine that claimed to have some 260 bhp and over 400 Nm torque. They never produced more than little over 200 cars and that makes it really special vehicle. No wonder I just could not get my eyes out of it. Most of us have heard of Italian car manufacturer Maserati but meeting this kind of rarity at the center of Porto Vecchio sure made my heart beat the native rhythm while my tour of the island’s landscape started with such exquisite flavor; Kyalami is “my home” in Zulu language.

After soaking my body for several weeks in water, mostly salt water in varying temperatures, I felt heaven on earth while having a bath. It was not a hot bath in a tub but in the adequately warm and very quiet pool at the hotel Les Bungalows du Maquis. The quietness reminded me about stories of the Wilkes Hilton at Antarctica in what comes to the number of inhabitants. Otherwise it was all of course completely different. Green plants and bright sunlight was offered in abundance. The pool water was body refreshing while the second Cuba Libre eased my mind into light sleep mode. I had picked up the book I saw at the hotel lobby corner shelf. It was the “In Bed with Douglas Mawson: Travels Around Antarctica” by Craig Cormick. That should keep me in its tight grip for the rest of the afternoon. I anyway got the pretty obvious impression that this season had a bit of stumbled start here at the outskirts of the town. All the nice looking and tidy hotel rooms we on -25% sale and decided to stay overnight. I congratulated myself being very happy to end up here, some 8 kilometers west of Porto Vecchio, since like always, I so soon felt uneasy among the tourist crowds in the town. But going this far did push me to continue with the vague plan even I already had realized that tourist free space on this island was rapidly running out like the species of Thylacine once had.

I let my, unfortunately aging and in some places an ever-aching, body to rest under this mighty quietness and fresh smelling bright sun. Of all that I questioned my mind about what was I actually looking for from here? What were the things I was after? Could I have had experienced this same peace and quietness, even in larger extent, just in my own garden tub? Probably yes but then again, not in the same manner. The human mind is an odd environment. Some people tend to reach for faraway things just for the sake of it, even they could easily otherwise arrange, yet not fully experience the same, just by going around next corner of their home. This strong urge emerges due to reasons. The unrest islomania and insatiable imagination in me. New unseen locations being apparently one big reason but that certainly cannot be the only thing driving me to this mad traveling. As it was not. I wanted to feel free, as silly as that sounded to me. What is being free anyway? If I was a religious person I would say that the human soul can be free. Then again the mind and soul are pretty much together in my comprehension. I believe the only thing that can be as free as it’s ever possible, is human mind, as long as you are sane. Then being a sane or not is another question that relies heavily on other persons judgement. Eventually all the things in life more or less depend on the environment and one can never be ultimately free while alive. This paradox is unbreakable but one can sure spend a lifetime in seeking the perfect state. I felt strong and amazingly happy being back on that graceful path again.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2014).

Cheerio

After God and a leaking hull (part II)

July 27, 2013

“Luck is believing you’re lucky.” ~ Tennessee Williams

At first I hardly even noticed it. An empty wooden cable spool floated just a few feet from the bow. It popped out of the darkness as big and heavy, three-quarters of it hiding under water. I stared it going slowly by under my spotlight. It was instant collision alert on board as I could not determine if there where other similar mine like monsters floating ahead. What a miracle made us meet this terrible hull breaker while drifting through the night. Only imagine if we had raced with full sail or even motoring. We all sent a few selected prayers towards our guardian angels.

Joost started the engine and we backed up towards the cable spool. The first idea was that we should do something to avoid any future collisions. We examined the bulky object under our heavy searchlight. It had clearly spent some time in the sea already as marine algae and snails covered it below the waterline. How could we get rid of it so it would not be more danger for anyone? Could we sink it? Should we try to mark it somehow? Could we just break it into parts? An axe would not do much difference and operating a chain saw from fairly unstable inflatable boat in the middle of darkness at open sea would be more than suicidal act. We tried to calculate how much anchor chain we would need to sink it and how that should be shackled. The decision was that we should not try to do anything more during the night. We secured the beast by good length of rope and some fenders.

Rest of the night passed in tranquillity of calm swell. In the morning it took us almost an hour to chain the cable spool with 15 meters of old 1/2 inch anchor chain. We just smuggled the end of chain through the spool centre and locked the loop with, two to be sure, steel anchor shackles. The estimated weight of this load was over 35 kg and it did sink our trouble nicely. We expected the bastard soon absorb enough water and never break surface again.

Even morning did not start-up any breeze so we decided to have good breakfast after the sinking exercise. The motor was started and course was taken Southeast towards island of Corsica. According to captain we had quite sufficient fuel reservoir to make it Port de Centuri. As that was set to be our first target though it was known the port did not offer any official services.

For starters we had savory wholey egg sandwich, also known as “one-eyed jack”, each. You fry a slice of white bread that you have punched a hole, as large possible leaving the edges intact. Fry in butter, first on one side and while flipping it to another side, you add an egg leaving the yolk intact. Add black pepper and salt, maybe a few drops of Tabasco or some flakes of dried chili. You need to lower the temperature to avoid burning the bread. Just a moment under the cover gets egg fully done. Frying on both sides with the egg will destroy the one-eyed jack. Instead, if you don’t wish to eat whole egg yolk then you may break it little in the beginning. I especially like wholey egg sandwich with a slice of bacon. It really serves great start for the day. Then, for sweet tooth, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were served as well. Light toast, JIF creamy peanut butter, sweet cherry jam and breakfast tea.

Despite our delicious breakfast, our conversation revolved around all the garbage and dangerous stuff floating around at the sea. You would not expect it but it’s the reality nowadays. Say, the GPS and all other modern seafarers equipment are there to ease the sailing effort but offset is polluted environment, unknown dangers like floating freight containers and even these smaller potential boat sinking objects. I often felt envy for Joshua Slocum and his boat, the Spray, sailing single-handily around the world for over three years. He was the first man to accomplish solo circumnavigation of the earth. He did not need to dodge fishing net marks or cable reels though he had a lot of other serious issues to worry about. In his magnificent book “Sailing Alone Around the World” Slocum describes his momentary fear.

“Not only did the past, with electric speed, flash before me, but I had time while in my hazardous position for resolutions for the future that would take a long time to fulfill. The first one was, I remember, that if the Spray came through this danger I would dedicate my best energies to building a larger ship on her lines, which I hope yet to do. Other promises, less easily kept, I should have made under protest. However, the incident, which filled me with fear, was only one more test of the Spray’s seaworthiness. It reassured me against rude Cape Horn.”

Captain Joshua Slocum eventually disappeared at sea during his winter voyage towards West Indies. It was believed that the Spray had been run down by a steamer or struck by a whale. Being aware of history made me search irony in my thoughts. Even he did not need to zigzag in between all man-made hurdles he was still caught by an incident at sea. On the other hand I would consider something like that reasonably fair alternative for long-term illness and languish at some nursing home. I would call his case as nemesis. It will all happen as it is being written. Just only that we are allowed to read it afterwards.

We approached the coast and got a sight of Cap Corse. The sea color started turning greenish like the gemstone I recall on my old Great Aunt’s emerald memory ring. Though Port de Centuri was expected to be an exquisite port to visit I still felt even greater anticipation for visiting the tiny island of Giraglia, at the northern tip of Cap Corse and maybe even Gorgona and Capraia on the eastern side of Corsica. I felt being an islomaniac case of the most difficult kind. Islomania, yet recognised but less studied, is an inexplicable attraction to islands. Some dictionaries describe it as an obsessional enthusiasm or partiality for islands. I actually did not discover this part of myself until later in adult life but afterwards have realised it’s been a part of me from early childhood. I remembered an old saying, that the mainland is for ordinary life, but islands differ. Gods live on islands and so do monsters.

The traffic at sea was quiet. I would believe that in a month or two these waters and ports are really crowded. We saw only one sail boat on our leg to Port de Centuri. S/Y Koekoeā was 46-foot Nautor Swan, followed by the British flag, desperately trying to accelerate in light aft breeze with all canvas available. It passed us that morning on port side about 500 feet. We both explored each others through binoculars. There was a woman at the helm and she replied to my salute. We had a pair of 7×50 onboard since they offer bright an image as could be obtained in a reasonably sized binocular. Otherwise than that it was really peaceful approach to Cap Corse and I came to think over this way of traveling that I had been lucky to make use of. Naturally it was not for everyone and I’d like to point out that even some might think me as a free-rider I was most certainly not. Joost and Carrie did agree to take me in just for having a pair of extra hands and company. I could not agree that without taking some share of the cost. After little negotiation my enlistment was then finally approved somewhat grudgingly but leaving us all happy. I also spent some thoughts for going forward beyond Corsica. I would love to have the great opportunity for visiting Sardinia as well and ‘m quite aware my path would eventually need to be different from Van Emst expedition. Good wind of Gods had brought me so far and I did not hesitate to carry on with confidence. Something would show up for me if I only kept my eyes and ears open.

Port de Centuri, the small fishing port, is one of the rare shelters in the west coast of Cap Corse though reserved for local fishermen during peak season. We are expected to stay on buoy north side of Island Capense just to avoid any uninvited guests. Rather small, yet irreplaceable, Zodiac CFR 250 dinghy with Honda BF 2.3 four stroke outboard would provide our connection onshore. We were yet uncertain to know how to refuel the boat since it was expected that no official service was available.

Quite early one morning, before tea, in a space where the early sky reflects like a golden foil from the sea as smooth as a millpond. The temperature was already too much to tolerate inside the cabin at this early hour. Captain and his wife were visiting the doctor since yesterday evening. It looked that his sour thumb had not healed as expected and they needed to get some medical opinion about it. They had decided to bunk onshore since the village doctor seemed to have quite original appointment times. I enjoyed the solitude and was proud of being trusted to keep watch for the boat. I finally felt as being on long endless summer vacation under the blazing sun. Quick dipping in the refreshing sea made me ease the hot sun. While then lying and nodding on the afterdeck I slowly became aware of, with only half-open eyes, our next door neighbor that had arrived at very late hours. “S/Y Magpie”, slender and smart-looking 52 feet aluminum cutter under Greek flag, was swinging lightly in the buoy next to us. I recall that Chinese, for example, regard the magpie as a good luck symbol, happiness, and long-lasting fortune and that made my heart smirk. I did not notice any movement onboard at the start but sometime later, while inspecting the vessel with binoculars, I think I noticed a move in window curtains. It wasn’t too long the cabin doors were swung open and there was a burst of tanned kids all over the deck. I counted half a dozen but could not really get the figure as I was nailed looking at the woman who arrived out in behind. She looked after kids bustling around and jumping into the nice warm sea. Soon after they were all swimming around the bathing ladder she looked directly towards “S/Y Sunride”. Pretty straightforward welcoming hand gesture was presented and I needed to make a quick decision if I should go and introduce myself rather than just remain unresponsive and practically watch the world go by. Well, that wasn’t too hard to do. I waved back, made a hasty note “Visiting neighbor” for Carrie and Joost should they arrive meanwhile, quickly checked the boat attachment, grabbed a purse of self-made citrus cookie based Paw Paw & Macadamia triangles and detached the backup dinghy. This was a tiny 6 feet inflatable with paddles. I had prepared it in use after Van Emst expedition taking the proper one. After a few paddle swing later I was welcome to have a cup of tea with smiling bunch of the most bright-eyed children and their lovely chaperone, Ms. Amandiakis.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011 - 2013).

Cheerio

After God and a leaking hull (part I)

April 28, 2013

Fruits of Rapallo

We enjoyed light breakfast under pleasant morning sun. It felt pretty airless in the marina. Sailing conditions were however expected to be great as we only got out from the shelter of Rapallo. Tea with my favourite Carr’s table water crackers and homemade apricot carrot jam was served. This jam was from the deep pantry of Van Emst. Pretty much similar to what I used to make but clearly lacking one excellent ingredient, brandy. Thought we had that good enough portions last night as I was already onboard “S/Y Sunride” for expected departure at noon. The stay at Rapallo had been a successful row of exquisite experiences among museum Attilio and Cleofe Gaffoglio, The Porta delle Saline, The Music Kiosk and The Sanctuary of Montallegro. Happy, wonderful days with breathtaking views. View behind small window towards the Rapallo bay from chapel dedicated to St. Cajetan especially etched in my mind.

It’s always too much to do as you’re about to sail no matter how short trip is intended. This time most of the preparations were already done as they had practically already left a few days ago just to return in agony due to that bluish and aching thumb. What a relief the doctor presented by diagnosing no broken or even fractured bones. As they say “one man’s loss is another man’s gain”. I would not have made it so fast sailing forward wasn’t it that unfortune for the captain.

Joost Van Emst is native Dutchman and at 64 years old he still stands in good posture six-foot three tall. Grey beard with short hair fashion and weathered face made him look plausible seafarer and skipper. Joost is a tireless punster with a young boy’s passion behind in adult man frame. Sail from Genoa had made us to somewhat know each other and I was hoping for knowing him even better during the coming days.

The Van Emst expedition had set a target to start discovering the magic island of Corsica, birth island of the French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte, from the west. The Scandola nature reserve and the biosphere reserve Valley Fango, especially Delta Fango, harbor a diverse fauna. Also Ile de Gargalo Island was expected to be worth exploring. The tiny village of Galéria (pop. less than 350) is the closest place to disembark for Scandola but, in hope of more sheltered marina they had decided to sail Porto, a small village to the west of Corsica famous of being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the high season this place was crowded with tourist but should yet be quite pleasant in May.

At noon the church bells of Rapallo started counting for our departure from the Porto Carlo Riva marina towards Porto, around 130 nautical miles from Rapallo. I was to remove the mooring line. Before that I had short negotiation with a boy who had already for some time travelled around the quay yelling “Fresh Fruit”. He was trying to sell his mother’s garden products. At least that was what he claimed with perfect English. Without demur, I handed him one five-euro note against tasty looking fruit selection basket. But I should have known better.

“S/Y Sunride”, 9.75 m Bènèteau Oceanis 320, is only slightly modified but otherwise well equipped for longer transitions. The boat is build in 1988 and initially purchased by Joost Van Emst for their third boat. Masthead sloop rig, single swept back spreaders and aluminium Isomat spars with stainless steel standing rigging. Nice head sail furler with 130% genoa, Elvstrom Dacron full size main with two rigged reefs, spinnaker as well as mandatory spare main and genoa. All control lines are naturally fed back to the cockpit winches for ease of handling. The vessel is powered by Volvo Penta D1-30F 3 cylinder 29 hp, fresh water-cooled, diesel engine and shaft driven three-bladed prop. Joost claimed that the fuel consumption at 2000 rpm is 2 litres per hour giving approximate range of 125 nautical miles with 50 litres fuel tank. I addition to forward-looking chart table, well equipped galley and saloon there are two main cabins, one master aft and a larger than average double v berth in the fore peak. I concluded it was a relatively small but agile boat with displacement of 4000 kg and maximum draught 1.40 m.

The roller slowly gained length and size. The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of 1,500 m but here at the Ligurian Sea it reaches a maximum depth of more than 2,850 m northwest of Corsica. Soon open sea and Raymarine autopilot did lull us enjoy this a part of the Mediterranean Sea positioned between the northwestern coast of Italy, the southeastern coast of France, and to the north of the islands of Corsica and Elba. Moderate rear wind of 7 m/s took us towards the south. Like before but especially now we noticed how much garbage there is in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s just astonishing that people do not care about the cleanliness of the environment. Practically none should ever thrown overboard anything but items one are expected to be edible. Everything else should be kept onboard for proper disposal. It sounds like really obvious for all of us but the reality claims opposite. Looking some plastic wrappings slipping past the boat I came to think of the huge gyre of marine debris in the central North Pacific Ocean and in the Atlantic Ocean. One time during the seventies a man from Council of British Plastics Federation seriously stated that “Plastics litter is a very small proportion of all litter and causes no harm to the environment except as an eyesore.” Thank God, our awareness of environmental conservation has stepped forward since those days. But during back then already, that is over thirty years ago, it was discovered that large amounts of such debris was floating in parts of the Ligurian Sea.

Carrie was preparing lunch and I offered help. Carrie Van Emst nee Carrie Fingerwood, a farmer’s daughter from Surrey England, was a woman of good looks even in her mid sixties. Her strong dark brown hair had nice shades of grey that made it shine lighter in the sun light. The recipe reminded me of Fasolada, Greek Bean Soup, though being something else. It was served as a light meal with some salad and bread. I especially enjoyed the fresh-baked bread, from Rapallo, as long as that was still available. Ciabatta is actually one type of Italian white bread originating from Liguria. We enjoyed the lunch along with discussing about Tom Neale who had during fifties and sixties stayed alone on the island of Anchorage in the Suwarrow atoll, five hundred and thirteen miles north of Rarotonga, enjoying his dream of isolated life. Neale wrote and become popular along his autobiography “An Island To Oneself”, describing his first stay period. He spend total of sixteen years, in three periods, on that tiny island. True islomaniac, I would say.

I thought the fruit basket would add nice dessert and decided we could enjoy all else but the peaches. Since they should be consumed during the evening while already moored. While savouring the cherry and fig, all beautiful to the eye, we found fig overripe or even ruined towards the bottom of the basket. I know, I should have picked the fruit up from Rapallo market instead of relying on the little Mafioso. The peaches were all right, though. Following the classic way I would then later slice the peach into a glass for each and pour them full with white wine. Eating peach slices with the tip of my Laguiole knife was last I had in my mind before the wind dropped altogether.

Joost soon started the engine and while it was humming away I had a bite of Joseph Heller’s book “Catch-22”. Though being partly novel the satire fascinated me. Location for the events is a small island of Pianosa, an island situated in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The fifth largest among the 7 islands of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park since 1996 with a surface area of 10.3 kilometers squared and a coastal perimeter of about 18 kilometres. A special permit issued at the direction of the National Park is required for anyone willing to visit Pianosa. The old maximum-security penitentiary of the island was established during mid-nineteenth century. Towards the end of century the island became a destination for convicts suffering from tuberculosis. There is just one restaurant and a museum that presents past history of the guards and convicts living on this rare wildlife sanctuary. The atmosphere is said to be extraordinary peaceful due to lacking any modern tourist attractions as well-being practically uninhabited. As Heller mentions in the epigraph that Pianosa is too small to accommodate all the action of “Catch-22” and the 256th squadron of the Army Air Forces. We know the island of Pianosa did never have an U.S. Air Force base though it would most likely have been pretty good location. It’s the artistic freedom that rules.

Among being just a crazy book full of crazy people in a full crazy world, it is most famous of presenting the “Catch-22” concept for common use. “Catch-22” is describing a no win situation with a difficult circumstances, a vicious circle, a paradoxical law, from which there is no escape because of dependent conditions. The main character is John Yossarian, a 28-year-old bombardier and a captain in the U.S. Fighting 256th Squadron. An anti-heroic person lying in a military hospital nursing a liver illness that he using to keep from flying missions bombing enemy positions in Italy and eastern France.

Yossarian looked at him soberly and tried another approach. “Is Orr crazy?”
“He sure is,” Doc Daneeka said.
“Can you ground him?”
“I sure can. But first he has to ask me to. That’s part of the rule.”
“Then why doesn’t he ask you to?”
“Because he’s crazy,” Doc Daneeka said. “He has to be crazy to keep flying combat missions after all the close calls he’s had. Sure, I can ground Orr. But first he has to ask me to.”
“That’s all he has to do to be grounded?”
“That’s all. Let him ask me.”
“And then you can ground him?” Yossarian asked.
“No. Then I can’t ground him.”
“You mean there’s a catch?”
“Sure there’s a catch,” Doc Daneeka replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.”

Later the day there was practically no wind. Our captain informed that with limited motoring range it would be best to seek for close harbour and wait for proper wind. We might try small Port de Centuri west of Cape Corse. The harbour is only allowed for boats under 10 m and should be deep enough for “S/Y Sunride” though services were not to be expected. The only problem was that we would not make there before it was going to be pitch black night. Sailing into foreign harbour in the middle of the darkness is seldom suggested. It was finally decided to save fuel while drifting the night with stopped engine and navigation lights on. As we were three onboard the watch was set for four hours with eight-hour free shift. For avoiding continuous graveyard watch for one person the 16:00-20:00 shift was split in two. I started with 18:00 – 20:00 half shift for keeping an eye of Navman Chart Plotter/GPS for our position and course, Raymarine ST60+ Tridata for depth, speed, log and water temperature. Plastimo Liquid compass was also present for double checking the direction. The Raymarine VHF over chart table was silent on channel 70.

I felt anxious landing Corsica, the island that James Boswell wrote a travelogue detailing his trip there in 1765. I had read it some years back and then being given an idea of once visiting this rugged yet so beautiful island. My schedule was vague but still forcing me to return home at some point. This at least was anticipated during that time. I had not heard anything about her for over a month now. Before leaving home I did send a letter mentioning about travelling plans but no real schedules were described. And how could I have done that as I had selected the current way of moving forward? I just did not feel comfortable rushing home for empty house just yet. The shimmering heat of the Mediterranean summer was in front of us. I should definitely see Corsica, then maybe Sardinia and even Amalfi before returning 1300 km east for home.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011 - 2013).

Cheerio

Post meridiem

March 24, 2013

Hill of Montallegro

In his book Harry Whitney describes the moon and aurora near arctic Crystal Palace glacier “It was a scene of rare beauty that can be witnessed nowhere in the world save in the Arctic, and seldom even there. Nature had combined ice, sky, moon, aurora and all the elements in an unusual manner and in just the right proportions of coloring upon this occasion, to paint the picture to perfection.” I had read that through in my mind several times during this voyage while trying to ease down to sleep in my bunk after some exciting graveyard shift. As we were travelling east for the most of the time we had the dawn ahead of us. The weather had been more or less on our side since Gibraltar presenting some unforgettable early morning scenarios.

Arriving Rapallo from the sea that early morning hour was an arresting experience to me. Faint dawn from behind 600 meters high Montallegro hill silhouette drew the sky cradle for a small town of Rapallo on the Italian Riviera in the Liguria region of northwest Italy. I had said good-bye to my excellent captain and crew members just a few days ago in Genoa. We had succeeded sailing that classic boat back to her birth town for summer and celebration. Genoa was amazing but far too huge for my preferences and despite all the alluring invitations I required myself back on scheduled travel towards Rapallo. Naturally the easiest way of doing it would have been by going to Piazza Principe Station and having a ticket for train. I, however, wished for something more memorable for my arrival to this magic place. I wanted to enter Rapallo from sea like so many seafarers had done in the past. Unfortunately the was no ferry of any kind available and I spend some quite time finding proper ride. My Italian is poor yet very limited and was therefore extremely lucky to come across a Dutch couple on their way towards Corsica and Sardinia for the summer. They had spent the winter on Minorca for all the special things like megalithic stone monuments, reptiles, birds and vast number of species of orchid.

Carrie and Joost Van Emst had left Minorca over two weeks ago motoring and sailing along the Spanish and French coast. The miracle of having them in Genoa happened to be my fortune. This elderly couple, as being natural science teachers, had followed their adult lives the ideas of nature study by Anna Comstock from Cornell University. While recently retired and childless they had possibilities to take over the dreams in investigation the wonders of nature all year around. Their home, “S/Y Sunride”, 32 ft Bènèteau Oceanis that is well equipped for year around onboard living was practically packed full for the summer sailing. It turned out to be their third season going around in Mediterranean as they wish to stay in place during the winters. So I got onboard with the Van Emst expedition as they headed towards east.

The quiet and beautiful small cove harbor of Rapallo is pretty much open for all the wind and waves of Ligunan Sea. The harbour basin is measured about five hundred meters from shore to shore and has multiple breakwaters. In here at last it becomes obvious and surprisingly true, Italians have greater aesthetics eye than the neighbouring French. Italians cherish the beauty of everyday life in everything they do even if it was simple breakwater.

The past few days with Van Emst had been great. We had light sunny sailing and some motoring under surprisingly calm sea towards Rapallo. Carrie turned out to be an excellent cook and the moments after dinner were quite extraordinary with discussions over various subjects. Grace Kelly and Eva Peron sitting on minke whale foreskin bar stools while guests onboard Christina O, deep-fried Mars bars and tales of distant marinas, they all came together during my stay.

Before Carrie and Joost were to continue for Corsica we decided to visit the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Montallegro built in 1558 on hill opposite the side of the Rapallo basin. This sanctuary was built on the spot where, on 2 July 1557, the Virgin Mary was reportedly sighted by a peasant, the farmer John Chichizola, returning from the vegetable market of Rapallo. Some part of its marble facade was added later in 1896. Cable car, built in 1934 with cable 2349 meters long, is the most spectacular and most comfortable way to climb up there 612 meters high. It leaves every half hour from Piazzale Silvio Solari just five minutes walk from the marina. In less than nine minutes you end up with amazing view over the town and marina. At first we had some lunch at one of the two hotels restaurant that was open for both lunch and dinner. Then we spent peaceful afternoon admiring all the details of golden interior and many offerings, mostly for miracles at sea. Next morning I got up early, had a light breakfast and walked for few minutes from hotel Italia e Lido, jus a stone’s throw away from the Castello sul Mare, to the marina and met Carrie and Joost for wishing “Buona navigazione” as they were departing for new adventures.

I sent the last hand wave for receding sailboat and tried to see famous Lavagna shipyard in the distance but it’s of course much too far. After all, it is located at the mouth of the delta Levante about 15 km SE from Rapallo. Mr Ettore Sangermani started boat building 1896 at Mulinetti, a village on the Riviera di Levante but in 1934, as the boats grew bigger, the Sangermani brothers decided to move the yard to Rapallo and then later in 1946 Cesare and Piero Sangermani transferred the yard to the current location in Lavagna. The exact location of area reserved for maintained sail boats in the days of 1951 when Goran Schild arrived with his wife for taking S/V Daphne for summer sailing from Rapallo, Italy to Crete, Greece and back, remains unclear for me. All I know it was all happening here at the beaches of Rapallo for half lifetime ago. On the first pages of “In The Wake Of Ulysses” Schildt attractively describes the feelings and anticipation of voyages ahead.

“The first night in Daphne’s cramped cabin with the sound of the dark and surging sea outside the door brings sober reflection and fitful sleep. Faced with stark reality, we are suddenly aware that sailing on the Mediterranean is not purely an idyll of delight, and that our immediate future is full of hardship, uncertainty and lurking peril. But what doubts can hold their ground against the glorious, calm morning that follows the night? Our first dip in the Mediterranean utterly reconciles us to our situation.”

I ended up thinking my trip on a bench in the basilica of San Gervasio and Protasio next to road cross of Corso Italia and Via Venezia. Magnificent building and, like always, filling up the property to the brim. Sitting in front of the bench row I looked the statue of Our Lady of Montallegro, with graceful face and two small angels looking down over kneeling peasant. Humility filled my mind in the peace of the basilica and I felt encouraged by the inevitable feeling that there would be more places to discover and journeys to travel, before returning home.

Longing back to the sea

Walking the promenade of Rapallo town was great. Going around castle of Rapallo, just in front of my hotel, for relaxed sunbathing was superb. I, however, started to feel myself more and more anxious to put up some sails and go forward, where ever that might be. While lying under Ligurian sun I saw dreams of Corsica and especially Sardinia. Variety of landscapes from the white beach sands up to hilly mountain views and lapping turquoise sea. I felt the inviting temptation of Tuaredda beach at the southernmost tip of Sardinia. I soon realised planning a sailing trip from Rapallo round to Sardinia and back to mainland Italy, Amalfi. How long would it take, where should I get the boat? How about the crew? I would not expect to go by myself with this little experience, now would I? It was the start of the season for boat charter business and I expected to be late for lower cost.

I was sipping the second anise-flavored pastis of the day in a small sea front cafe on Via Avenaggi, on the eastern shore of Rapallo bay. Pastis made me think of French people and Corsica as I have not been there ever. I realised that even more than longing to discover Corsica I was actually feeling for Sardinia. I had made some calculations and based on them it should be possible to sail from Rapallo to Amalfi in less than ten days considering a few days stay in Sardinia. The plan and determination grew inside me and that must have been due to the pastis since next morning I did not feel too confident at all. I was required to push fast forward without any idea about the crew or even the boat. So I decided to get the crew first and then do the searching of proper boat. I knew already that there was multiple charter companies to choose from. Only needed to pick up the right one letting us to sail to Amalfi.

Rapallo has about 150 sunny days a year. That is about half of the sunny days when compared to home island Rhodes, Greece. At least now the sunny days were not counted since there was a heavy low around the town. After a while I discovered that my plan should be quite opposite to succeed. First I should look for the boat and maybe I was able to find travellers who have similar plans. Going around the pouring wet marina promenade later the day I started to doubt my eyes while discovering a familiar figure of Carrie Van Emst on the boat deck. It turned out to be bad luck for Van Emst expedition this time. They had an engine issue soon after leaving Rapallo and while trying to fix it the manoeuvre went hazardously wrong and Joost had broken a bone on his left hand thumb. It’s hard to say if they were tears or raindrops on her face but I realised there had been a serious incident at the sea. They had managed to turn back sailing and finally yesterday motoring into marina through the last puffs of dying engine. It was some time after Joost came back from the first aid. Luckily there were no broken bones but one puffed up and sour thumb, now packed in tight bandages and sling going over his shoulder. It should be better in a week, that’s what the doctor predicted at the hospital at least.

I was buying a dinner for the weary travellers just for the sake of putting a bit of a smile on their faces. We went to La Goletta, that was close to the marina and down a back alley away from the rush. Great food elevated the atmosphere and soon we were joking about the couple sailing in circles with their boat due to Joost’s taped thumb. The main issue anticipated by the skipper was that the fuel line gasket leaked and the line sucked in air causing the engine not to run properly. We decided to call a technician from the shipyard to take a look at it as soon as possible. Later in the evening the discussion turned towards my future. I told Carrie and Joost about my plans to go sailing around Sardinia and visiting Amalfi. It did not take too long for them to offer me a lift to Corsica at least, only if I was interested. Joost was slightly handicapped anyway and they sure did not wish to spend extra week at the marina for waiting the thumb to heal. I believe it was sometime after third round of splendid pastis drinks when we decided that I should follow Van Emst and “S/Y Sunride” as their assisting summer sailing bosun. Maybe I would finally get to taste if Sardinian limoncello was much different from the one made from Femminello St. Teresa lemons in Amalfi .

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011 - 2013).

Cheerio

Salted Hull

March 21, 2013

An arrow, mast of heights, breed images quivering
accelerating cheerful dance on the turquoise south
silhouette glistening, below mighty bright blistering

And where your smoldering loins meet dark water’s deep
there my soul stops along with straightened old feet

An increase of longing, and sweet hopes for common past
lazy summer afternoons, salty drops of seep in the mouth
no borrowed pain or remorse, only together at last

And as the sight finally turns into a dark nights peek
there my soul stops along with straightened old feet

Cheerio

The first poem since Feb '12.
Inspired by tight bowline knots and salted decks of teak.

Ante meridiem

March 5, 2013

Fatigue at sea is a dangerous mistress

They say that 21 m/s wind can be described as strong gale and is given nine on Beaufort wind force scale. Beaufort scale is based on empirical measure and as the senses are the primary source of empirical evidence then it’s not easy for unaccustomed observer to say anything exact. Naturally if one has an anemometer, wind speed measuring device that is, then it is easy if one is also familiar with equivalent Beaufort scale wind speeds. The expected wave height with nine Beaufort wind may be up to 10 meters. But I can tell you they feel like hundred feet tall for plain cruiser. I’d rather use definition of cruiser than sailor as long as describing in terms of experience about the marine life of yours truly. Not too much of a sailor but I can still tell the difference of sloop, yawl and ketch; and cutter rig. The differences are interesting for a landlubber like me. One can end up discussing further which of them is the best without truly knowing the facts. I would say that to me it really does not matter, since the best rig you can play is on the boat you are at and at that moment it is definitely the most interesting one.

We left Royal Lymington Yacht Club five days ago for fetching more crew from little Scoil Mhuire (Schull) seaside village on west Cork’s atlantic coast in Ireland. It was mostly pleasant passage towards south-west, west and north-west. Occasionally offering changes for asymmetrical spinnaker tryout. Schull harbor has relatively secluded basin and we went mooring there overnight. One crew member was happy to get ashore and visit Schull dental clinic for acute appointment. He had an issue that started to develop as we more or less followed it with repulsive interest. The dentist had drilled up an aching tooth, cleaned it and put temporary patch on it. This however started to generate pressure that within a few days developed into one hellish toothache. We had already got used to the idea that the patch must be removed at sea but now the poor fellow was lucky enough to get decent treatment onshore. There are countries where social safety net will provide the substantial amount of these dental services practically for free. Well, there may be a nominal cost but it’s 10 times less that on the open commercial market anyway. Sounds great but has only one notable shortcoming. The waiting time can be troublesome and sometimes even impossible. They give out appointment times three to four months ahead. So if one is able to wait then there will be pretty low expense required for keeping the teeth in good shape. I once realised that there are practically very few occasions when a man can have such affordable yet professional treatment by one or possibly even by two ladies.

While the sailor had his tooth renovated, the rest of us had dinner around the corner at The New Haven Restaurant. Afterwards he joined us with swollen cheek but relived. Some of us went across the street to pray in St. Mary’s Catholic Church. The captain had an old wooden pulley he took out of his backpack and it was given as sacrifice on the altar. Then afterwards as there was a bit of a walk around the village area and when we all had ensured the latest impulse purchases from local Eurospar we had a pint or two at Hackett’s Bar while waiting the additional crew members finally join us.

Since leaving Schull we have been sailing south-east out of Hibernia towards Genoa, Italy in a sail vessel registered for CE category: A – Unlimited ocean voyages. Genoa (AKA La Superba) is the capital of Liguria and second largest seaport after Marseille, France. It’s the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and his statue in there is looking at far away lands standing high at the railway station square. This town is also the place where our sail vessel was born. I had never visited Genoa but more was expecting to see the small town of Rapallo, near Genoa. This is naturally due to Göran Schildt, writer and art historian that used to have his boat survive the winter in the shelter of Rapallo shipyard. He went sailing around Mediterranean multiple summers with wife and occasional bosuns. Several books he wrote about these magnificent explorations remain his historical legacy for anyone inspired by sailing on open seas and exploring unknown remoteness.

During last 24 hours the barometer reading had dropped down till 960 millibar. While the average atmospheric pressure at sea level, on earth is 1013.25 mb, our current reading is regarded for extremely stormy conditions. The crew under continuous and unusual pressure is shortly running out positive attitude and jokes hear during first days of the voyage. I notice a dangerous amount of fatigue creeping in the crew members. Even most members onboard are experienced seafarers they still need decent share of food and sleep. The conditions have been against us for several days already. The ship chef is fighting kettles and pans in the rolling galley with a demonic touch. It’s a blessing that he has been able to keep up the appetite of men. But we all need sleep even there is no chance for it. Occasionally I notice nodding seamen here and there. Myself being among them. I vaguely recall that once being at sea in a terrible storm Columbus wrote to his journal that the men were so worn out that they longed for death to end their dreadful suffering.

“Patience required!”

It is April 21st. All I could previously remember from this specific day in history was that town of Rome is celebrating its birthday today. Most likely I shall utterly forget that fact and replace the given memory slot in my storage capacity with the events of today. If I ever live so far. Insisting against the use of Dramamine I have sure consumed pretty considerable amount of different ginger products during the last day. Pure canned ginger root and multiple portions of ginger based drinks. Fascinating how ginger works for me. It does not prevent my motion sickness symptoms completely but yet saves me from asking an anchor and kind permission to jump overboard.

Our yacht is a wooden classic 59ft Bermudian cutter that at the start of nineties belonged to famous guitar smashing rock legend. Naturally, as soon as I had received this piece of information, I filled up the old iPod Nano with all possible tunes from this exquisite group in order to honor one of the previous boatmaster. Now, in the middle of steel grey roaring sea, I comfort my shivering body with gulps of ginger root beer accompanied by “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.

It takes excellent boat, experienced crew and some serious patience to come over gale wind waters of Bay of Biscay. History can tell that the designer once described, one keys of his design philosophy, that a yacht should have the utmost docility and sureness of maneuvering at sea, both in good or bad weather. At least for now I’m confident that the given design specifications were properly filled on this sail vessel. There is nothing but a spitfire jib up as we travel under uncomfortable swell that would make round the world sailor Bernard Moitessier smile. He went solo around the world in his 39′ steel ketch, Joshua, in 1968-69. Rather than completing he instead abandoned the actual first Golden Globe Race after seven months at sea. He was a human not after personal fame and a record but rather sailed on ending up in Tahiti after total of 10 months from his departure. Moitessier also wrote several fascinating books about his voyages and sailing. In his book “The Long Way” for example, he writes very descriptive his own conception about money. “Alas yes, money… for all our picking up butts and living with a reasonable amount of brains, more or less money is necessary, depending on ones temperament. In any case, one thing is certain: one can go very far and lead an interesting life with very little money to start, because one always makes out once underway – provided one is underway.”

Being a boatswain on a sail vessel this size gives one opportunities to learn a lot. Crossing Atlantic ocean north to south differs from maneuvering your own half sized craft on safe and warm coastal waters. I finally got the overhaul of Daphne’s Lullaby finished before March 15th as it was the shipyard deadline. Then, as I was still alone at Kalavarda I decided I could do some traveling. Started by going to Athens. What a marvelous place it is for a visit after our tiny village at Rhodes. All that splendid chaos of art, masses of hectic life cycle and history. One never quite gets over it as a visitor. I know that native people seldom appreciate these arguments while living the everyday life as we all do. It’s often extremely difficult to see the forest for the trees. Athens in magnificent but i would not wish to stay too long. Too many personal memories in that town. Then it was time for Paris with more than 12 million inhabitants. That is over twice the people in Athens. Paris is hard to pass or exceed by any measurement. It is the true European center of architecture, history, monuments and landmarks as well as entertainment and performing arts. I could move there for life only if it wasn’t the twelve million others. Paris as a source seems endless supply of inspiration. But it’s also darn expensive city, full with elegant yet rude and sourpuss Frenchmen not to mention non-existing vacant taxis. This all reveals that I’ve spent way too short time in the City of Light.

Eurostar got me traveling between Gare du Nord in Paris and Waterloo International station in London with less than 100€. London is amazingly different from the previous two metropolis. The world’s leading financial centre, if New York City is excluded, will soon reach the limit where less than half of residents are white Britons, being a minority in the city. Being such multicultural place with more than 12 million residents in the metropolitan area it is even more fascinating that Paris or Athens. It’s unfortunate truth that if Athens didn’t have the significant climate advantage over the others then it would not be mentioned here. Treasures of London include numerous museums, galleries and libraries. I wish I had all the time in the world to wander and explore all the exquisite historical and cultural gems of London town. Usually it never happens due to this and that. It’s always too busy schedule for any proper touring. Maybe I’m just too hungry. Too eager and greedy for such endless explorations as I honestly believe no human has an opportunity to go thru it all anyway. I will limit myself to my fate and try to do my best out of it since living is more than wandering in dusty galleries or in dark basements. While in London I got a hint that there might be an open enlistment for a bosun within sail vessel traveling back to Mediterranean and Genoa. At first I did not believe my chances but things kind of developed with help from an old acquaintance and I soon realized that it would be more than 2400 nautical miles long journey ahead of us. The estimated time for making it was around 12 to 15 days as I had golden images of silver blue sea and warm sunsets in my head.

Now I was just too busy to regret my decisions while performing the ever ending list of tasks given. It was soaking wet, freezing cold and pitch black. I guess that was the best practical situation that kept me going since it would not have made any difference anticipating improvement of weather. Hours crawled and exhaustion was inevitable. I was seasick up to the bones and far from pretty sight as i was told afterwards. It’s a mystery how we all kept going thru the night. Eventually, as always, the barometer started showing sings of going upwards and by the time we saw pallid glimmer of the morning from the east the wind had eased around 15 m/s. I had no clue about our location except it was open sea and nothing else on sight but clear horizon all around. What I understood, however, was that we had slightly changed our course towards French coast since latest from given weather report suggested favorable weather in that direction. I looked fascinated delicate sun rays ripping the cloud mass in far. Couple of mugs of sailors tea and I was ready to hit the hay after having generous share of offshore excitement. I felt safe and saved but it was no religious feeling rather that confidence that had grown towards one old sail boat and its crew. I felt pretty fortunate landlubber that morning.

I woke up after sharp six hours of sound sleep. They must have let me sleep longer than expected. D’Alembert’s paradox and Hohmann transfer orbit were in my dreams at some point even I’m far from being mathematician or expert on astrodynamics. These things just pop up from somewhere at the back of my mind. Most likely something I’ve read lately. The last I actually have read was “Hunting With the Eskimos” by Harry Whitney, sportsman, adventurer, and author. But I guess that has very little doing with mentioned sciences despite it is an excellent reading.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011 - 2013).

Cheerio

A Conversation with Yumatzuga, Author of Somewhere on The Other Side

January 1, 2013
A transcript of the interview with the author at the end of 2012
in Lanzarote, Spain.

***

Somewhere on the other side revised edition was published on 2012. There might be some rare pre-release versions and the official first release available but this interview is based on the final version.

I meet the author, actually for the first time, on the island of Lanzarote, Spain. He is enjoying the mild climate and modest accommodation of rented villa during the most severe winter months. We are served some Gambas al Ajillo with Tinto de verano that is obviously boosted with white rum. It’s mild sunny afternoon.

Interviewer: Is the Somewhere on the other side you first published book?

Yumatzuga: Yes it is. The first published out in public. I’ve been writing different stories for my own amusement for some time already. This is a collection of those I gathered while blogging actively during four years in between 2007 and 2011. Actually I did publish most of the material in the blog itself. Then later I did the first full collection, published that in one online portal but was not too satisfied with the outcome. So finally I decided to make it look like a proper book. Only then one can really feel the publication as one ensemble, from cover to cover. I would say that the final revision was due to too many deficiencies and eventually lacking the proper outlook of a book I expected to have. Now it is complete writing that anyone is able to download and enjoy.

I: You have not revealed the real identity of Yumatzuga, have you? Why is that?

Y: Well, that is true. A good question that I sometimes ponder myself as well. Maybe it’s some strange mortification due to the inabilities of representing the intended subject and stories with correct grammar and language. As you may know English is by far my mother tongue but I still persisted in writing in English for having the practice. As I have occasionally stated it has really helped me in developing the personal vocabulary as well as enhanced the ability in forming proper sentences. By no means do I feel myself anything but novice in this field, though. I also have enjoyed the ability to communicate with my co-workers in more relaxed manner after gaining more self-study experience in English. For these reasons I did select foreign language in the first place. For fun and benefit. But eventually, what comes to the identity, I prefer to hide it. At least for the moment since it’s pretty irrelevant factor if we focus purely to these short stories. These tales are for pleasure, mostly for my own but now willingly being shared. They may not be masterpieces of literature but still have their tiny but suitable slot in human representation.

I: In the book, you indirectly express your passionate love for islands, am I right?

Y: I have to be honest, I’m an islomaniac. I’m obsessed with islands and have an insatiable attraction to islands. It drives me when selecting any domestic or foreign locations for staying. I cannot say I would dislike any other arrangements but as funny as it may sound I only feel home on an island. Well, look at us now. Lanza in one of the seven Canary Islands. From October until early May the weather conditions are usually harsh from where I come from. It’s something I’ve learned to avoid and purely hate. Little more each year, I would say. I love firm toehold and open waters. The weather here at the moment is pretty similar when compared to the summer in my native country. I realize I could have travelled to somewhere in Asia or to the ends of the earth for seeking islands. I am, however, pretty much comfort-loving individual. This I’ve learned even more true during the latest years. Naturally traveling has the economic factors as well. It’s always more or less of a compromise but I would not wish to compromise being on an island.

I: The stories in the book are all fiction. Do you feel writing that way most fascinating?

Y: Writing fiction is easy and amusing for me. I often like to put in some, maybe even detailed facts and descriptions. Fiction gives me truly free wings since I can invent and modify the plot as much as needed. It really frees up the imagination and preserves an ideal world for the imaginary life. This I consider the other life I’ve been so graciously allowed. When the strong inspiration floats you to the deep seas of writing there simply cannot be anything better. As they say some of us live twice; One life for yourself and one for your dreams. I seldom read any fiction, though. I preferably read autobiographies, travel literature, technical, historical and natural science based work. I would say the personal library includes only 10 to 15 percent fictional publications.

I: How important you find the researching while writing?

Y: It must be one of the most important things for me to write like the way I’m doing it. Usually I start collecting bits and pieces from here and there. I may do that for longer period of time before actually writing a single line of the story. I often keep some interesting fact items in the idea locker for further use. I would compare the process to a puzzle that you create simultaneously while trying to solve it. I find it extremely enjoyable. I’m also very amused while digging deep in the details of some technical invention or mystery of some natural phenomenon. Even that will make my day if not being in the mood for creating anything. Of course, today a lot of the information is available in the public Internet. We must, however, remember that not all is there. We may find millions of facts and figures from it but a lot written material lies in thousands and thousands publications all over in human history. I’d say if you read thousand times the amount you ever write then you should be safe. What ever that means… Also the life itself, as you think of it. That is something you can’t fully learn by reading. You need to live it, right?

I: How often you write?

Y: Unfortunately it varies a lot. If I would take this seriously, I mean even in semi-professional manner, then I’d probably would be forced to write every day. Just for collecting the material and putting down ideas along the way. Human life is just too short to miss even single day, especially when writing. I must confess that during the past year I have not practically written anything notable. Just few lines for the next expected book but that’s all. Even if it’s been said to have unwelcome impact on writing I have kept at least one year vacation. At some point I just felt that I need to experience more and dream a little less. I’m a doomed prisoner of inspiration. The best catalyst is music without hesitation, especially piano music. I cannot say anything more but that has been my weakest point since early childhood. We used to have a piano at my parents house but I somehow missed a chance to learn it. Other inspirational sources listed are solitude, some seclusion but not too extreme, sunny days and warm pitch black nights. I would say that for me lying under sunshade for a bright full day would never go wasted. Either I’m awake writing notes or drowsing light and dreaming deep. You know, when people say they are dreaming? Do they really think of something they could actually reach if lucky or something explicitly unreachable but still worth dreaming? I believe belonging to the latter category with one tiny exception. While I write about things never possible for me I will still reach them in my own writings. That said, I can truly live my dreams, no matter how impossible they may be. I just need to invent and write. Easy as that but I certainly realize I would need to write a lot more in order to be able to finally satisfy anyone among buying public with the produced material. That is not, however, essential for the moment.

I: Will the next book follow same footsteps?

Y: I truly cannot say. I think only time will tell. I have an idea making the second book in a pretty similar way. By blogging the stories at first, then collecting the most suitable stories and finalizing it all in one book. At the moment it is still all open and way too early to point out the final direction. I would hope the second book is more about traveling and has more philosophical aspects of life. I would expect something mature and maybe more in detail with historical background as well. It will be lighten up with same kind of interest to facts and reality at least in some extent. I have written that the work has been started but as you already know this is not my _work_ in the true sense. Therefore it has no real schedule but is driven purely by the inspiration. Eventually I would not suggest to hold your breath.

I: I was lucky to contact you along with my contacts. I read your book and found that it might be something to quote occasionally. Only one problem I found there. The book includes following clause: “This work is owned by its author with all rights reserved. End user may not redistribute without the permission of the copyright holder.” My last question is how is anyone expected to contact the copyright holder then? Especially as you wish to stay anonymous?

Y: Well, the copyright is there no matter if the author is not publicly identified with own legal name but only thru pseudonym. I would be happy and surprised should any contact needs happen to rise. Practically any person can just comment on this blog. I’d be then glad to assist further.

***