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To Get to the Other Side

A journey through Europe and its anarchist movements

A Good Day (part 1)

Παρασκευη 16 Μαρτιου

My last night in Athena, Yiannis, Yiorgos, Heleni, and I watched The Fountain, Darren Aronofsky’s haunting movie that had just come out in the theaters.  The next morning I was up and off before anyone else had awoken, on a train to Peleponnesus.  The boat leaving from Patras, Ikarus Palace, sat in a bay surrounded by steep mountains.  The water was a pool of melted turquoise crystals lapping up the sunlight.

I spread my sleeping bag on the floor of the almost empty steerage deck, draped wet clothes across the backs of seats to dry, and unrolled my sleeping bag.  Land disappeared, the sun set, a star too bright to be a star, a planet or the space station, hung in the west, then it too fell below the edge of the earth.  In the night we passed by strange cliffs hidden in the darkness, and the twinkling of distant cities.  There must have been mountains because on top of them were lights, mingling with the stars.

I woke up upon a churning metal island in the middle of the Adriatic, with no land in sight.  The sunlight soaked into my hungry skin and the sea air gave my heart wings, turned it into a bird beating at its cage, a great seagull eager to leap out and take to the wind and never come back to land.  The waves carried distant faces to my mind.  I grounded myself with a careful poem out of Martin Espada’s bilingual Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hand (Rebelion es el giro de las manos del amante), sent from the New World by my friend Patrick, to help me learn Spanish and warm me on the way.

First there was trash in the water, then birds in the air, and finally land coalesced out of the smudgy horizon: the sheltering cliffs of Ancona, Italy.  Oddly, I had only decided to go to Athena because Yiorgos, over email, told me that if I was going to Thessaloniki I might as well come to Athena, because from there it would be easy for me to catch a ferry from nearby Patras to Ancona.  Just the previous day I had come across a reference to Ancona as the place where the Italian anarchist Malatesta had hid out while the police were searching for him at the turn of the last century, and where he wrote his book At the Café. So, I had decided to follow the little coincidence, and take the route Yiorgos recommended.

Ancona looked pretty but I had already found a ride with one of the drivers on the ferry.  It was a mixed blessing because it left me no time to look around, but hitchhiking in Italy is hell and if I had not gone with this one German all the way to Milano, I might have been stuck for days.  Nine hours later I arrived in Genova, and before midnight I made it to Ca Favale, a little autonomous village above Chiavari which a friend of mine from Virginia had visited.