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Let’s explore

Let’s explore the possibilities of life

Let’s explore the endless possibilities of life

Let’s explore the notion of life’s possibilities being

endless

Let’s assume life’s possibilities to be endless

until proven otherwise

Let’s spend the rest of our lives searching

for disproval of the assumption that life’s

possibilities are endless

Let’s allow for the fact that one can only truly

explore the possibilities of one’s own

life, and so focus on disproving one’s

own endless possibilities and let others

figure theirs out for themselves

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Fiction

 

First Day in the Mani

The Gulf of Messinia

Looking back at Kalamata

I sit above a taverna in Karavostasi, a small collection of buildings and houses in a bay at a breaking point in the formidable Taygetus just north of Areopolis. The hills flanking the bay drop steep down to the water. I remember the approach: coming down from the attacking peaks of the north, the new folds of mountains and hills running along the coast looked like a row of great sphinxes, lined up and facing out to the Messinian gulf. Their heads barren and scorched by the sun to a pale, dead brown, their legs laid down to the sea.

Four days ago I had arrived to a derelict Kalamata, wondering through the dusty streets in search of anything open. One o’clock in the afternoon on a Sunday was not the best time to arrive; a combination of daily siesta and church day saw to it that most of the shops and establishments were reduced to dented, rusting shutters covered in scribbles of graffiti, giving the impression of many years’ abandonment. I found a small hotel near the station and waited for the town to return to life as the sun released its sweltering grip on the streets.

The view down the main street framed purpling peaks shooting up in ranks to the north. The dusk light softened the jagged points and derelict sides, as if I were an ant on some great, deep purple meringue, the calm tops of sugar walling in this town at the horizon.

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Posted by on March 1, 2014 in Greece, The Mani, Travel

 

Lima, Peru – 26th July 2010

Outside the Cathedral San Francisco

Above the Catacombs

I woke up at the crack of dawn and was forced to hurry as we were getting ready for another sure-to-be-busy day. The girls cooked up a lovely pot of hot porridge served with fudge sauce that we greedily accepted and much appreciated on the cold morning. Today we were exchanging the rest of the group money into Nuevo Sols. We asked at reception to use their phone and arranged for this with the bank. A little while after there was a knock on the front door of the hostel and two men carrying black drawstring bags walked in and emptied the contents on the small table in the reception area. We then had 28000 Nuevo Sols to count through, making sure that we had the right amount. It had all arrived in twenties and quickly mounted up in stacks of cash that covered the entire table.

With the mountain of cash separated between everybody in smaller chunks, we split up into two groups and headed off to central Miraflores. Our group headed off along the main street, looking for a place to change our personal spending money. We came across an intersection of bank houses and began searching for a good exchange rate. As we wandered around, we saw many Peruvians with fluorescent jackets on and huge wads of cash in their hands and sticking out of their many pockets.

These were apparently street money dealers that ran their own exchange service, often at a better rate than the banks they stood outside of. We found it curious that they felt safe with so much cash being flashed openly, but they must have been as they seemed to be everywhere around, standing in groups of two or three. Although they offered a good deal, we were cautious not to exchange money with them as we had heard from Tom that it was entirely possible, and quite likely, that they would have ‘fixed’ calculators that would alter the amount in the calculation and rip us off. We weren’t prepared to take such a risk and so we continued onward until we came across a small currency exchange at the mouth of an arcade. It had a good enough rate so we exchanged our money over to Nuevo Sols.

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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Lima, Peru

 

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Lima, Peru – 25th July 2010

The trip that lit the fire of my ever-burning desire to travel: a World Challenge expedition to Peru in the summer of 2010. This month away, spent exploring city, jungle and village life, hiking across mountains, relaxing in hot springs and climbing a dormant volcano changed my life. Perhaps not in any profound, wishy-washy way, but ever since, I’ve always been looking forward to the next trip away, exploring the world and the people in it. To commemorate my beginnings, so to speak, I’ll be slowly releasing chapters from my diary of that month. The collection is also available in a bound book over at lulu.com or you can purchase it as an eBook pdf download. These posts of writings from years ago will be demarcated by writing in italics.

The Tales of Colossus: Route map

Yesterday we had a sixteen hour flight to Lima, the capital of Peru. The views from my window were often spectacular. None more so than as we entered the last leg of the flight, Houston to Lima. We had been drifting over the sea, far above the clouds for a few hours when a landmass scarred with valleys and glacial troughs emerged from the blue, like a rocky beach with the tide leaving limpets clinging to the mountains. Long shadows stretched away from the peaks, distorting the landscape like the gnarled skin of a crocodile.

Once at Lima we had pre-booked transport to the Inka Lodge. Close to midnight we hustled and bustled into the taxis and rushed off through a surprisingly busy Lima. The first thought was the run-down look of the whole place; very ad-hok constructions with little evidence of town planning. As a result the drivers were very aggressive, using the horn for anything from “hi” to “move!”

We appeared to travel all the way around Lima before heading inwards and rocketing down the thin and bumpy streets towards our destination.

Half in a daze, we arrived and shifted our bags inside. We were split up into our dorms with the six guys being cramped into a room with barely enough room for the beds let alone for us squeeze past. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Lima, Peru, Travel

 

Absolute Harmony on Tour in Valencia

Over the summer of 2013, 23 members of Absolute Harmony went on tour to Valencia to enjoy the sun, explore the city, learn about it’s history, try loads of great Spanish food, and sing to whoever wanted to listen.

Absolute Harmony is an A Cappella choir from Royal Holloway, University of London. They do arrangements of a wide variety of music, from the golden oldies to modern hits. Every year they go on tour to busk and enjoy the sun.

Special thanks to the committee members who organised this year’s tour: Imogen Nation (AbHarm President), Marco Mestre (Communications and Social Officer), Tilak Patel (Musical Director) and Janhvi Raniga (Treasurer). Also on the committee (though they didn’t come on tour) was Calum Roy (Musical Directory).

Music (in order of heard):
Better Together – Jack Johnson
Icarus – Bastille (sung by Absolute Harmony)
Shine – Take That (part sung by Absolute Harmony)
Several traditional Valencian flamenco songs
The Rose – Amanda McBroom (sung by Absolute Harmony)
Better Together (again)

Filmed and Edited by Jakob op den Brouw (me)
Produced by odbVideo (also me)

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2013 in Film, Spain, Travel, Valencia

 

Snorkelling in Cyprus

Prior to coming to Cyprus, I had bought a GoPro Hero3 camera for a bicycle trip to Paris, and Andreas had made it a requirement of his hospitality that I bring it for snorkelling.

Relaxing on Makronissos Beach

Preparing for the Dive

We sat and swam in the sun for a few hours before kitting up and heading out with our faces under water. The first time I went snorkelling, off the coast of Western Australia at Ningaloo reef, the mask leaked and I found the magnification from the lenses disconcerting. The second time, at Ko Phi Phi six years later, the mask leaked and I had trouble using the snorkel properly. With a bad start to the world of the under water, I was not expecting great results this time either.

The mask didn’t leak though, and I figured out how to use the snorkel properly and even got used to using flippers. An hour and a half later and I was hooked on this new realm beneath the wet. The weightlessness took away all care. I relished the calm of being submerged and not having to worry about coming up for a breath. It was like taking a long cool bath after a hot day, but with fish and coral surrounding you. As I became accustomed to the new ideas, I began to feel more and more like a dolphin. I wanted to swim as they did, a flick of the tail and like a dart through water, graceful as a ballet dancer, quick as a cheetah, nimble as a mongoose.

I looked more like a robotic mannequin flailing loose underwater. But I didn’t care… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2013 in Cyprus, Travel

 

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Cyprus, July 2013

“Table for one,” those lonely words. I bided the time in a Wetherspoon’s pub, to my right a partition of frosted glass and then great windows looking out on the north runway of Heathrow. Planes like metal whales coast in from the west, floating down, unhurried.

Everyone here is waiting: waiting for adventure, waiting to return home. I love airports for this; the anticipation it harbours, the moment of embarkation, the point of no return. Perhaps the real trip for me doesn’t begin until touchdown in Athens, still ten days away, but this stay in Cyprus is the first stepping stone, the acclimatisation stage. I plan—I hope—to be able to pick up some Greek, if only enough to buy food and water. It will acclimatise me to the weather too, with thirty-six degree heat in Cyprus and not much below that in Athens, it will undoubtedly take a few days on the beach to get used to it.

Back to Starbucks, food eaten, a little more time passed, the sun lowered, mocha being sipped and a caramel shortbread slice being nibbled. Let us consider travel, in this hub so apt. Modern travel so often happens as a means to a destination. What it means to most is delay; a period of time spent between where you wanted to be once, and where you want to be soon. But travel used to be so much more, the journey as important, if not more so, than the destination itself. When I have travelled in the past, I would consider the entire trip to be travelling. When you reach the “destination”—country, city, region, island—the journey should not end. Every step on your way through this new place is part of the journey and should be treated as such.

Travel does not stop until you have returned home, and even then you journey onwards into the rest of your life. And if the journey is so important, it should be enjoyed, or attempted to be enjoyed. My flight later on into Cyprus may have been one of the worst of my life. With a little illness still hovering around, my ears wreaked havoc as we rose and fell through the sky. But I arrived, falling through a curtain of brightening fluff as the sun crept up out of the horizon.

The Arid Scrubland of Cyprus

Dry, Dusty, Desolate

We drove through rough dry scrubland. Trees grew no more than twelve feet high and were few and far between at that, exposing the parched earth that grew only a few other low bushes. Rough hills grew on either side of us. The houses we passed were white and blocky. Most were modern builds, with a few traditional Mediterranean-villa-style houses. A rusted, abused car sat in a pile of dust. It seemed farmers had given up farming long ago, releasing the land to hardy scrubs of grass and wild olive trees old and wrangled by the harsh heat…  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Cyprus, Travel

 

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