Friday, May 18, 2012

GREECE Lightning (What Were the Odds?)

Tell me more, tell me more - like does he have a car?!  ...No.  He had a mo-ped.  His haircut had nothing on Fonzie's either.  It was really weird - he rocked a pony-tail, but the sides of his head were completely shaven.  Did the Greasers wear eye-liner?  I can't remember - but Drasco sure did.  Thankfully, unlike the Greasers, and just about everyone (or so it seems) in Europe, Drasco didn't smoke.  But that was just about the only pleasant thing about him.  

When Angela and I decided we would visit the beautiful Cyclades Island, Santorini, we immediately looked to the CouchSurfers site to find a host.  If you're like I was a month ago and have no idea what CouchSurfing is, it's a site used by many college students who love to travel, but also love their budgets.  Basically, you type in the city to which you plan to travel, and you find fellow CouchSurfers who are willing to host you for free in that city.  Angela is pretty experienced with this site, and I have only heard good things about my peers' experiences with it.  When you find hosts, you stalk their profile to learn more about them, and you read references from other CouchSurfers who have stayed with them in the past.  This usually gives you a pretty accurate idea of what to expect from that person.

This is where we found our homeboy Drasco.  He seemed iiiight on his page, and he also had many really good references (several from girls who stayed alone).  So even though I knew my parents would completely FREAK out if they knew of my plans, and even though sleeping outside of the house was never something I was comfortable with growing up, I decided to give this a go.  If I was going to try backpacking, I should get the full-blown experience, right?  Ahahaha...

Rightttttt....well nowhere on that site did it say anything about a small house "decorated" with spray paint and a bunch of funky colors.  Nowhere on his page did it prepare me for the Marionette string puppet hanging from the ceiling in his living room, the two bikini tops plastered on his wall like posters, the loaf of rotting meat dangling from his tiny kitchen ceiling (gagging).  I had no idea that he had plans to invite his friends over that evening to sit outside around some cauldron-looking thing where he probably cooked people for all I know.  I'm serious.  I really did not anticipate that our room would be a little wooden shack (where you slide a bar of wood to lock it and everything) that was also spray painted with clown-house colors, and embellished with several flies lingering on top of our twin sized bed.

You probably think I'm either hallucinating or lying at this point.  I'll tell you that I wish I was!  When I say my life's like a movie sometimes, this is the 'ish I'm talking about!  I'll first tell you how Angela and I got in (and thankfully out of) this horrifying predicament, and in my next blog, I'll inform you of my wonderful experiences in what's now my second favorite vacation spot in the world (after Libnan, of course - with all bias intended!).

So after a wonderful two days spent on the island Chios and in Athens, Angela and I made our way on the night ferry to Santorini.  Even with planning our trip night and day while we were still in Turkey, we certainly were not ready for how complicated and disorganized traveling in Greece would be.  So by the time we got off the ferry in Santorini and connected to two different buses to get to Fira (the area where homeboy told us to meet him), it was already 5 PM.  Our ferry back to Athens was scheduled for 6:30 the following morning -_- (ferries from Santorini back to Athens are not regular, so we only had that option if we wanted to arrive in Ankara in time for work).

So we stop at some small grocery store and call Drasco.  He told us to stay where we were and that he'd be there in ten minutes.  So for those "ten" minutes, that were more like 30, Angela and I were joking about all the things that could happen.  I was having so much fun with my imagination, as usual.  Jokingly, I'm like: "hahaha imagine he comes on some mo-ped and takes us one at a time :D :D who will go first?"  We didn't think that was so funny when, ten minutes later, Drasco pulls up in his two-wheeler...

"Who's first?!"  Haha me and Angela look at each other half nervous and half amused, and I decide to go first.  So there I was, on some random island riding on the back of "Dracula's" mo-ped (when he picked us up, he grabbed my hand in a really firm handshake, and introduced himself as Dracula, then started laughing hysterically -_-).  I was a bit uneasy, but he seemed like an okay guy at this point, just a bit strange.  All I could think about was how I couldn't wait to tell my friends that I was riding on a mo-ped behind some random guy named Drasco on some island haha.  So he drops me off on the street by his house and then goes to get Angela.

As he's walking down the (many) stairs leading down to his house, he's talking about God knows what and laughing HYSTERICALLY.  Me and Angela are laughing as well, but not hysterically - it's something more like nervously...really nervously.  And then he shows us his clown-house that I previously described.

Can you imagine what I'm thinking/feeling at this point?  I swear, every thought from every single horror film/novel I've watched/read was popping into my head like a lightning-fast slideshow.  When I saw the bikini tops, and the cauldron thing, I was convinced we were dead lmao.  So after he shows us our "room" he goes:  "So this is your home for the nights that you're here; you're staying here for free, so it's your job to just clean it up.  Start by taking the rug, dusting it all off.  Clean up under the bed, then get rid of all these little bastards," he points to the flies that quickly dart out of his way.  (They were probably terrified of him too...frikkin Dracula.)  "Take like 10-15 minutes now and just clean up, then we'll sit outside."

Pause.  This request would have been fine by me in any other case.  I'm all for making people truly feel at home, but there was NO way I could sleep in that room.  In fact, I had to get the hell out of there PRONTO.  Do you blame me?  So I hit him with an:  "Actually, we were thinking to go to the Black Beach because we heard it's beautiful."

"No.  No beach anymore today, it's too late.  Tonight, we stay here."

Lol Drasco has expectations, clearly.  So I told him that, because we barely had a day in Santorini, we really wanted to see the Black beach and other attractions.  This apparently took killer-boy by surprise lol.  He goes:  "WTF are you talking about 'ONE DAY?'  YOU SAID YOU WERE STAYING FOR THREE DAYS!  I WOULDN'T HAVE ACCEPTED YOU IF I KNEW YOU WERE JUST HERE FOR ONE DAY!"

At this point I'm looking at Angela wondering what to say to Mr. Anger Management.  I tried to explain to him that we said we were in Greece for 3 nights, but Santorini for one.  I really don't care about him understanding anymore so I tell him I'm leaving for the beach.  Really upset he says:  "Go right ahead.  You're walking to the beach?  Good luck with that!"  So I say thanks and start rushing towards the stairs.  He yells to me:  "You're going to the beach with all of your things??!"  While I'm already out, I look at Angela, signaling for her to follow me and I yell back nervously "Yes, I need all my things, I'll let you know when I'm there!"  ...As if he cares lmao.

So I'm like power-walking, jogging, then finally sprinting up these stairs not looking behind me lmao.  It sounds really funny right now, but I was SO scared.  When I finally reach the top, by the bus stop, I look down and don't see Angela anywhere.  I'm literally talking to myself at this point:  "Come on Angela...Come on Angelaaaaaa..."  Now I'm pacing back and forth, as if to avoid the guilty conscious that I know is going to catch up to me anyway.  I'm thinking:  "Oh shit, he's killing her.  Should I go back down?  No that's so stupid I always criticize the dumbasses in the scary movies who do that.  I should call someone.  But what if nothing's happening?  Then I'd make a scene for nothing!  Who cares about making a scene, she's dying!!!" ..I'm dead serious.  So I continue to pace back and forth for what seemed like an hour, but was probably more like three minutes.  Finally, I pick up the phone and call Drasco.  Angela answers, thank God.  I tell her where I am and she says she's coming.  Sighs of relief...

After she comes back up and I ask why she didn't follow me, she explains that she felt really rude just leaving without explaining ourselves to this man who agreed to host us.  She says she wishes that I would have stayed with her to explain and that I didn't rush off because she didn't know which way I went.  It was clear that Angela didn't feel as terrified as I was lol because being well-mannered was the LAST thing I cared about at that moment.  We both understood that we felt differently about the situation, causing us to react differently and have different expectations for one another, so that was solved.  Then, as if we weren't stupid enough, we hitch-hiked out of there haha because the bus wasn't coming for another hour.  That was fine, I just wanted to get the HELL out of there.  I was shaking for a whole hour after.

So we ate by the Black beach while the sun was setting, engaged in amazing conversation for a while, and decided to walk around and explore Santorini.  At night, we took a cab (the driver was a woman - YAY Santorini), and went to Fira - we heard it had the best night life.  Since we had nowhere to stay, we wanted to stay out really really late (like 5 AM late) so we could catch the bus back to the port before our ferry left at 6:30 AM.

We walk into one of the nicest clubs called Enigma around 1 AM and ask the bouncer if we could leave our backpacks somewhere safe, so that we could enjoy the night without worrying about them.  He kindly let us put them in the club-owner's office and locked the door.  The whole street is just a bunch of bars and clubs within 5 seconds walk from one another, so we knew we were going to be hopping around a bit.  Walking out of Enigma, we asked Bouncer Boy if we could leave our stuff there while we walked around.  He said enthusiastically:  "Of course!  We party 'till 6 AM!"  To that, I enthusiastically reply:  "Perfect, 'cuz that's when we'll be coming back," laughing on the inside because we really have no choice but to stay out that late.

So we hop around a bit.  Nightlife there is very similar to what I've experienced in Lebanon.  What I found really cool, though, was that many of the clubs played Greek music for a while, and the people would go crazy when their songs came on.  That's a bit different from what I'm used to in Lebanon; most of the youth prefer Techno, House, or American artists - I don't think I've ever heard an Arabic song at the more modern night-clubs in Lebanon.  

We spent most of our night at this place called Club Koo.  It was "Koo" (hehe so lame), and the owner - at least he walked around like he was the owner - was one of the most attractive men I've seen in my life.  Another thing:  Greek men are beautiful, and if you know me, you know how picky I am...But I'm serious...I think the guy was like 40 haha so I felt a bit weird for checking him out.  Ironically enough - "Greek God" just kept running through my head when I saw him.  He was like 6'3, broad shouldered, dark skinned, with brown hair, a scruffy beard, and piercing, piercing blue eyes.

His demeanor was what did it for me, though.  He would walk to the back of the club and sit, folding his arms, just watching.  Women were coming up to him left and right lol it was really funny to watch.  I'll talk more in my next post about the cultural things I noticed as far as dynamics between men and women are concerned - cuz they were really interesting to me.  But yeah anyway, I didn't wanna talk to Greek God 1.) just naturally because he could be my dad, and 2.) because I don't like to contribute to any male's inflated ego; I have one of my own that I'm tending to, thank you. ;)

Long (very long) story short, we're pretty much falling asleep on the couches around 5:30, so we make our way to Enigma to get our things and catch the 5:45 bus.  We walk to Enigma, and we were horrified to see that the whole place was closed.  Angela starts freaking out, and I'm freaking out in my mind, trying to figure out what the best thing to do is.  After we literally tried breaking down the door, we went around the nearby clubs and bakeries asking anyone if they knew the owner and if they could get our things because we were leaving the island.  This is when I realized Greece is SO similar to Lebanon haha.  Nobody really cared to help us.  They couldn't understand why we were so worried.  Most of them are like "He's sleeping now, come tomorrow," even after we told them several times that we were leaving Santorini.

I decide in the matter of 10 minutes that we were probably not getting our bags, and that the best thing for us to do is to get on the ferry because there are no ferries that leave Santorini on Monday (the next day), and we'd certainly miss work.  I convinced Angela that this was our best bet, and that we'd deal with it in Athens.  Thankfully, Angela thought for us to take our passports and cash out of the bag before leaving them at Enigma, so I was able to get on the ferry.  Unfortunately, we had to buy the really expensive ferry tickets again because we left the tickets in the bag -_-.  The rest of the next day in Athens was spent going to Athens Backpackers (the hostel we stayed at the first night in Athens), using the hostel's free wifi (and "free" couches to sleep the night lmao), sneaking into a room to shower, stealing food from their kitchen, and making sure our problem was everyone's problem for that day haha.  By the end of the night, everyone in the hostel knew about the girls who left their bags in Santorini, and we had several people throwing out different ideas to get our bags back.

We made several phone-calls to the club, to hostels in Santorini that are affiliated with Athen's backpackers, and to whomever else we could get ahold of.  But nobody on the other side was helpful.  We met a few people at the hostel in Athens who would be traveling to Santorini within the next week, and we even met two Korean boys who would be continuing to Turkey after.  We took down everyone's contact info in case we needed their help.  Since we no longer had ferry tickets back to Cesme (pronounced che-shmey; a city in Turkey near Izmir), we decided that we should find a flight to Ankara for a reasonable price and just go back.  I wanted to get the hell out of there, and I certainly didn't want to miss work and get in trouble.

It was so incredibly stressful for me because I had my credit cards, and two phones in the bags.  On top of that I hadn't told my parents any of this.  I was scared to tell them because I didn't want them thinking I was irresponsible, or worse, I didn't want them thinking they couldn't trust me to be independent and engage in these kinds of experiences (although I don't blame them if they think that now lol :/).

Because I was pretty much broke (spent the little cash I had on the ferry ticket), I reached out to Lexi for my plane ticket.  We found a pretty decent price thankfully, but it seemed like everything was going wrong when we tried to book it.  The internet would stop right before we completed the transaction, the power went out in our hostel (and that supposedly has never happened before -_- Greece lightning indeed), and so much more that I don't have the energy to mention lol.  So during times like that, Lexi has NO idea how happy I was to have her.  I didn't even have to explain my predicament, I just messaged her off Gmail and asked her if she could cover my plane ticket.  I told her I'd get the money to her ASAP and that I'd explain later.  Without hesitation, she completed my transaction.  I really really love you for that Lexi, more than you know.

I felt better that I'd be leaving the following morning, but I was still worried.  The next morning, Angela talked to these two Australian girls who would be leaving to Santorini.  She gave them the scoop and asked them to get our things and drop them off to the nearby hostel where the Korean boys would be staying.  They agreed that they would do anything they could to help.  We even paid them (good money too, those brats).

When we got back to Turkey, I jumped in the shower SO fast haha.  I was in the same outfit for 2 and a half days, even though I had showered the day before, I felt absolutely disgusting.  I was so physically and emotionally drained.  I got on my laptop and when I Gchatted my mom to say hi, I just busted out crying.  Those tears had been dying to come out for over two days - mothers just always seem to have that effect, don't they?  I still didn't want to tell her, I wanted to try to solve it on my own.  (Idk why I always do this lol..)  I was feeling pretty optimistic, so I went to sleep on a good note.

For some reason, I woke up the next morning feeling really hopeless and down.  I went to work and sat with Angela.  We were both really stressed out.  I definitely don't blame her, Angela had her Macbook in her bag :( !  We talked to our supervisors and they literally jumped to help us.  This is why I LOVE Turkish people btw...unlike the bitchy Greek receptionist who spent ten minutes talking about how stupid it was that we left our things (if I had any energy, I really would have hit her), our boss Leyla reassured us that we'd get our things.  They suggested to call the police, to keep trying the club, and to call the American Embassy in Greece.  Thank God for that.  The American Embassy was extremely helpful.  She told us she would try the club and contact us within the hour.  Things were looking good.

Then Angela refreshed her e-mail and an e-mail from the Australian girls popped up.  They told us that they went to the Club and the people there pretended they had no idea what they were talking about -_-.  Immediately, I started crying again lol and started drafting the e-mail to my mom; I pretty much lost all hope at this point.  Either the people at the club had no intention of giving us our things back, or the Australian girls took our money and BSed our lives.  I'll go with the latter, but either way, we were screwed.  After I sent the e-mail I felt a lot better, though...I was tired of lying about it.

...  Ten minutes later, we get a call from the embassy saying she got ahold of the club owner and that we should call him because our bags are still there.  I cried.  Again.  :D  I was so relieved!

So now, our friends PJ and Jun are in Santorini and have Club Owner Kostas' number, and they will be bringing our things.  We will meet them in the Izmir airport this Sunday to retrieve our bags.  A million sighs of relief.  Also, my mom replied to my really long e-mail of apology and desperation saying:


"Life is about experiences.   Some are good; few are not.  Unfortunately, we learn the most out of the most distressing ones for they engage all our senses and expose our vulnerabilities.   I am glad I am reading this while you are back in Turkey.  

Love you and enjoy more to come!

P.S.  it could have been worse--- you or Angela could have been locked up in-lieu of the bags lol."



Haha I absolutely loved it.  I don't know why I ever hesitate to reach out for help.  It's really counterintuitive to try to handle something like this without at least letting them know whatsup.  Lesson learned.  I know that Baba's probably freaking out though lol...I also know that when I see him in two months he's still going to act like he's upset with me :D...One of the many, many things I love about him.  I didn't know how much of a worrier he really was until this year.  Sorry to bring out that side of you Baba <3 ...I wish I could tell you that you have nothing to worry about with me ;) :D :P.

But really, lessons learned.  And there was a LOT to learn from that.  First and foremost, I'm reminded every day, and especially while I was there, how incredibly sheltered I've been.  I've always felt safe; I've always depended on my family and parents to make decisions in uncomfortable situations; I'm really ridiculously naive sometimes.  While this crazy ass weekend did expose how immature and flighty I can be with a lot of my decisions and thought-processes, it also shed light on a lot of traits that I'm proud of and did not realize I had.

I can now confidently say I have pretty good instincts.  I know this seems like something that a person should know about themselves early on, but I really questioned my instincts in potentially dangerous situations.  In the past, when I'd be in situations where fear is only natural, I. would. not. get. scared.  I'm the idiot who will hop in a taxi in Beirut at 3 AM because I'm convinced he can't do anything to me.  I think a lot of this has to do with me being sheltered from danger, from never having to feel unsafe growing up.  Usually, I'll have to react purely off logic and convince myself that my situation could potentially be dangerous, but even then, it's just fun for me to see how things will play out.

But this time, Drasco definitely brought out the fear in me, and I reacted both off logic and off instinct and got the hell out of there.  In a weird, twisted way, I was kind of happy that I was so incredibly terrified lol, the feeling was liberating.

As for getting out of the whole spoiled-brat, pampered lifestyle that I've been living, I know I'm getting there.  This is one of the things I'm most pleased with.  I loved the backpacking experience because it really was a challenge to know what to pack lol.  If you know me, you know how I pack - it's ridiculous.  80% of our meals for those four days came from my purse and from Angela's backpack haha.  We had stocked up on groceries before we left to prepare for how expensive Greece is now.  We got dressed and ready in Ferry bathrooms and still swagged it out (I must admit).  We walked or took the metro as opposed to taking a cab everywhere.

Worst of all (cover your eyes) I went through all of Plaka in Athens (a HUGE bazaar known for its awesome shopping) without buying one thing for myself, and I'm still bitter about that lol.  And when I did buy anything, I hustled people, never failing to get the price I wanted.  Bargaining is definitely one of my favorite things about traveling, I really believe it's an art!  All of this is a huge step from my family trip to South Africa, when all I wanted to do was lounge on the beach.  I completely understand why Mac and Dana were so upset with my attitude and sense of entitlement.  I only wish our trip could have been this year instead.

Anyway, that's pretty much the end to my crazy crazy last two days in Greece.  I hope you enjoyed the drama lol I definitely didn't.  I will say that I'm infected with this traveling epidemic, and I feel so pumped and privileged to see what else is out there in the world.  I can't wait to research and figure out where my next adventure will be!  For now, I'm going to make the most out of my month and a half in Turkey.  I'm learning more and more by the day.  Stay tuned yo! :)

With love,

theORIGINALmeme


  

2 comments:

  1. hahaha I love this..what a "typical" (read: atypical) european story to share..love your mom's response and couldn't agree more. again, can't wait to hear all the raw stories..enjoy the rest of your experiences <3

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  2. haha thanks for the comment love <3 gave you a shoutout in my newest post :) http://2012-turkeyinterns.blogspot.com/2012/05/who-knew.html?spref=fb ...always appreciative of your wise words.

    much love :* <3

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