Commitments

We are walking eastward and I want to tell you of the commitments I took on on your behalf.
First of all, to tell you what I will see walking along the 500 kilometers of Crete. Which way do I intend to
do it?
Every day I will send a diary of my travel which you will find on the blog CaminaCreta.
The proper diary will be preceded by:
– the sentence of the day – Fabiana, my companion, has chosen for me about thirty quotations of the Zen master Thich Nath Hahn, short sentences that I wll pick out at random from a small cotton bag. The sentence of the day will be read in the morning before starting the walk together with whoever will walk with me that day. It will give us the impetus to put ourselves in the right disposition of mind for the day and will also help us to find out where we will discover again its learning during the day.
– the photo of the day – among the photos we will make I will choose the one that can symbolize the day, a photo which will picture this walk.
– the meeting of the day – the anticipation of the most interesting meeting of one or more people whose story I will tell. It is an important part of my journey: I am also here to know people who have a story to tell.
In another page you will find the technical section: the Gps track of the route which I will put freely at the disposal of everyone who loves walking. Nobody will get lost any more along the E4 in Crete! Unless he wants to live the adventure without Gps; but this is also the beauty of the walk. On this page I will also publish some technical indications for every stage of the walk, eg. length, difference in heights, difficulties, strong points. The complete description with the photographic reportage will be published at a later stage.
Every day I will send all to Marina Merella who has kindly offered to translate it into English. In fact there are many people here in Crete who are interested in my journey. I receive encouraging mail from people who in the future would like to walk on the same route, but also from people who are simply interested in news of the walk, such as RadioKrete who would like to translate my diary into German.

Motives

What has driven me to organize the “CamminaCreta” ?
The first motive is public: to contribute to the revival of E4 in Crete, describing it in all its aspects, from life in Crete to the Gps track of the route. And then I want to tell you something of my personal motives. I am 49 years old and I have a son of 14 months and know that in the future I will not be able to often make such kind of journey far from home.

But this was the right moment, and I took advantage of it. I have no job.The Association for which I worked has closed down. I had founded it 17 years ago, all alone, and from then it has been my job and my passion, to such a degree that I had identified myself too much with it. But later the ups and downs of life contributed to destroy what had appeared to be a good plan, due to internal quarrels. Now I must start all over again; we are founding a new association, but everything will be different. I will not be the only leader, “the unique sun”, of this new system.
We are a group and therefore I myself will be less identified with the new I will learn to keep the two aspects of the project separate and build a combined effort dedicated to walking and my personal activity in that field.

This journey is therefore for me a changeover. Every change passes through a crisis and I myself am coming out of a difficult moment, I don’t hide it from you. And to return to a new life, this yourney is a great opportunity to look into oneself, to overcome a crisis and to come back renewed and full of energy. Crete was the right place for all of this, as I have already explained. Now that I am on leave, I am convinced of it even more. I am in Pyrgos, a small village near Agios Nicholaos; tonight with Fabiana, Giacomo and Matteo I slept in the house of an English couple who have come to live here. We are a few kilometers away from the tourism I don’t like, the tourism of apartment hotels and swimming-pools close to the sea and coffee-bars open all the night, but we are in a village and woken up by hens and dogs.

Today we move further east and, if everything goes well, tomorrow we will start walking from Kato Zakros.
Let “CamminaCreta” start !

Prodrome

Tomorrow we shall leave ! For the Prodrome.

What is a prodrome ? Let’s have a look at the etymology:

prodome = lat.prodromus  from greek prodromos, forerunner, composed by pro,

forward and dromos, run .

So a fact which anticipates another one.

Is it possible then to make a Prodrome not running, but just walking ? I think it is! I am going to do exactly this, a Prodrome to CamminaCreta (Walking in Crete). And I am going to do it seriously. I will accompany a group of six people on the White Mountains, the hardest part of Crete. There will be with me: Gherardo, the man who walks barefoot, Lauretta, Vincenza, Alberto, Laura and Luca.We will walk for eight days, reaching up to more than 2000 metres, maybe up until the top of Pachnes (2453 metres). Then down to the sea and again up further than 2000 metres, to  the top of Gigilos. A real Prodrome, but without running. After this journey in the places of Crete I know better, I will be ready, trained, purified of every toxin, both physical and psycological, initiated for the long journey.

I have heard of only three people (all English) who tried to cross the length of Crete.  The first was Christopher Thorne, who exactly twenty years ago crossed Crete from East to West.  In fourteen days, as a speedy walker, almost runner, he followed though a route very different from the E4 – let’s say easier. He hardly climbed any mountain. I am going to do the opposite: to climb all the mountains of Crete.  He published the book “Between the Seas”, which is interesting for  he references to the history of Crete but lacking in descriptions of his walking. He was too concentrated on curing his blisters and running to cover the approximately 450 kilometres of his route in fourteen days; and often getting lost too.

Ten years ago, another Christopher, surname Somerville, tried. He was an english journalist who took a month to cross Crete and afterwards published the book “The Golden Step”.  As an untrained walker, in his book he tells the vicissitudes he encounters on his journey, all the times he got lost and  the parts of the route he missed out by using transport. At the end he succeeds, he arrives at the west coast of the island and his story proves interesting above all for descriptions of the people he meets along the way (this is the part which interests me more).

In 2003 it is the turn of an English boy of Greek origin, Stelios Jackson. He has published a blog in which he tells a part of this adventure and it is not clear whether he interrupted his walking or just his writing. The  first part of it  is long-winded, but sometimes interesting. Instead, too often he speaks  in detail  about the dozens of times he got lost, arrived at night and had to have someone to rescue him. He took more than double the time he expected, taking an advantage of his friend Rex who followed him with his car.

There are also other cases of unsuccessful walks.  One has struck me especially: a blog of two boys, English also, I guess, who left from the west of the island. Their blog was really well done regarding the graphics, but after two days of walking they disappeared. The blog does not say what happened to them,  whether they interrupted their walking or just their writing, or they are still wandering in the mountains, searching for a way out ! This is what happens on the net !

This is not my case. I would not talk of blisters or of crossroads where one does not know whether to go right or left. I promise you .For now I  won’t say any more.  At least, I’ll tell you what I won’t  do.

Today is a packing day!

Today is a packing day! Not easy at all! I have to prepare a backpack for the Prodrome and another one for the the CamminaCreta. Many things will be the same, i.e. sleeping-bag, air-bed, walking-sticks. Other things will be different. Clothes for the CamminaCreta will be heavier, because the season is becoming colder. Therefore: winter parka and winter trousers. In the second backpack I put all the extras i.e.sponge-bag and first aid kit, everything in duplicate. I will wash some of my clothes between one walk and another and some of them I will change. In the backpack of the CamminaCreta I ‘ll carry all the technological equipment, which I won’t do for the Prodrome, as that will be a journey without technology. For the CaminaCreta I’ll put in the backpack the following: a Lumix TZ10 camera, suitable for travelling, as  it has a very powerful zoom and an incorporated GPS to pinpoint the places of the pictures; a netbook Asus; a gps Garmin Oregon 300; a small pocket Sony recorder to take notes (but also a Moleskine!); a cellphone.

I will take the medium one (the Blue Kazoo) of my three sleeping bags (all of them North Face!). I would like to take the warmest one, but it is too heavy. I must save that half kilo to carry batteries, cables and wires;in short I will risk being cold by carrying technological little games for fifty-year-old children!

As the backpack I will have a North Face Prophet, the lightest, the one I prefer.

The boots are Scarpa, of course, the brand I trust. I will take the Trek as I have an almost new pair, which have been  run-in when I was  trekking in Sardinia last month. They are made of leather both inside and out, smooth and healthy, the foot perspires well and feels more free, I think they will be able to last for all the forty days of my journey.

I treat my feet with a special oil I made up myself: with nine essential oils of mountain herbs, diluted in arnica oil. Feet must be pampered every evening, with a small massage. And must be wrapped into healthy materials, socks of merino wool and boots of leather which let them perspire.

A few days ago I got in touch with Flora, the firm that produces essential oils suggesting that they make a line of products for walking people; they said they’d yhink about it!

As much as possible my clothes will be of my favourite brand, Patagonia. The windbreaker for the Prodrome is a Rain Shadow, ultralight.  But for the CamminaCreta I will take a heavier parka. It is some years  old, I don’t remember the model, but it is always Patagonia !

Right on my skin I’ll wear undershirts of merino wool, Patagonia, Icebreaaker, Smartwool.

All natural technology, because techological advances can be to the advantage of wellbeing and not  only profit.

So much for now, I have written enough for today, I am going off to finish packing!

 

 

CamminaCreta – Presentation

On October 15th I will leave for Crete. The time has come to define the point of the journey. I love the idea of walking for about forty days, first accompanying a group Boscaglia. Then, sometimes I will be alone and sometimes my dear friend Stelios will join me to walk together for a while.
Sometimes I will meet and walk some distance with other people who live in the island, such as the Scottish couple who breed donkeys. Or the italian ladies who went to live in Crete and manage an Association that helps disadvantaged children to take free holidays, in collaboration with SOS children. Then, for a week, Matteo from Turin will join me from Italy. He is a friend who works as a photographer and will walk and take pictures of the walk and the meetings and even film them. I like the alternating moments of solitude and sharing.

I am organizing my backpack. I will bring a sleeping-bag as I mean to sleep either in the open air when the weather permits or in emergency refuges. There are shepherd shelters into which I can slide. From time to time I hope I can rely on some free hospitality. I am registered onto Couchsurfing although on my road there’s hardly nobody offering couches. In the villages though I trust on the old traditional hospitality. Every few days I will allow myself a good shower, a bed and a supper in a tavern. At other times I will eat in a simple way. In the kafenion everybody is presented with a village salad and I can easily survive on Greek salads. I will not bring with me supplies or a camp stove, just some emergency snack food. It is possible to find bread, olives and cheese in every village.

I will not bring the tent because it is too heavy. I am going to take the risk. If there will be a storm in the mountains, I will go on walking until I find a shelter: I am ready to walk for twelve hours without interruption. I will have a parka, gloves and a wool beret. But I will have swimming trunks as well, as the air near the sea will still be warm as will the water. In my backpack I will carry some technological instruments: Gps to map the itinerary, rechargeable batteries, battery-charger, camera and videocamera, netbook to send messages and photos and a recorder to take notes. As you can imagine this part of my luggage is really heavy!

I will leave three bags along the route, at Kastelli, Askifou and Agia Roumeli. So I will be able to change my clothes, leave things I don’t need any more and ship them little by little to Chania.

In those bags I will also put the equipment that Patagonia and Scarpa have given me as a contribution for the journey: parkas, Regulator batteries, Osprey backpacks and hiking boots. These two firms have offered this equipment not to me personally, but to people doing good deeds for Crete environment, young people fighting for nature conservation – a small contribution which I will bring them.

I will leave with a rough schedule but keep an “uncertainty margin” to feel free. I will be connected with all those people who want to reach me thanks to an Internet key and will read all their messages.

In fact, everyday or two, if I don’t have the line, I will send the travel dairy, the pictures, the Gps tracks and, if we manage, also the videos – to make a live report of this special journey. Let us hope that technology will assist us!

What matters though is the journey. Its philosophy is: “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free”. It is the epitaph of Nikos Kazantakis, the author whose works I am going to read along the walk and it is equal to the Buddhist philosophy of living for the moment, without fear of the future or anxiety about the past. Therefore it is the perfect philosophy for my journey !

Have a nice trip!

Alberto Liberati sent us this poem:

 

“Ithaca”, by Konstantinos P. Kavafis

When you leave for Ithaca,

may your journey be long
and full of adventures and knowledge.

Do not be afraid of Laestrigones, Cyclopes
or furious Poseidon;
you won’t come across them on your way
if you don’t carry them in your soul,
if your soul does not put them in front of your steps.

I hope your road is long.
May there be many a summer morning,
and may ports for the first time seen
bring you great joy.

May you stop at Phoenician marts,
to purchase there the best of wares,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber, ebony,
hedonic perfumes of all sorts;
may you go to various Egyptian towns
and learn from a people with so much to teach.

Don’t lose sight of Ithaca,
for that’s your destination.
But take your time;
better that the journey lasts many a year
and that your boat only drops anchor on the island
when you have grown rich
with what you learned on the way.

Don’t expect Ithaca to give you many riches.
Ithaca has already given you a fine voyage;
without Ithaca you would never have parted.
Ithaca gave you everything and can give you no more.

If in the end you think that Ithaca is poor,
don’t think that she has cheated you.
Because you have grown wise and lived an intense life,
and that’s the meaning of Ithaca.

(1911)

 

Thanks, Alberto!

 

 

News of the day

The day by day trip it’s on line now (page “The trip”). Surely we’ll not respect it, unexpected events in these trips always happen! There’s also a map of the walk in the same page.

We suggest you some books that are useful to prepare the walk, if you want to do it by yourself. Are not guides of the walk, but other walkers’s experiences:

David MacNeil Doren  “Winds of Crete” Efstathiadis

Christopher Thorne  ”Between the Seas – A Quiet Walk Through Crete” , Sinclair-Stevenson 1992

Christopher Somerville “The Golden Step”, Haus 2007

“You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint paradise, then in you go.” Nikos Kazantzakis

On October 15th I will leave for Crete. The time has come to define the point of the journey. I love the idea of walking for about forty days, first accompanying  a group Boscaglia. Then, sometimes I will be  alone and sometimes my dear friend Stelios will join me to walk together for a while.  Sometimes I will meet and walk some distance with other people who live in the island, such as the Scottish couple who breed donkeys. Or the italian ladies who went to live in Crete and manage an Association that helps disadvantaged children to take free holidays, in collaboration with SOS children. Then, for a week, Matteo from Turin will join me from Italy. He is a friend who works as a photographer and will walk and take pictures of the walk and the meetings and even film them. I like the alternating moments of solitude and sharing.

I am organizing my backpack. I will bring a sleeping-bag as I mean to sleep either in the open air when the weather permits or in emergency refuges. There are shepherd shelters into which I can slide. From time to time I hope I can rely on some free hospitality. I am registered onto Couchsurfing although on my road there’s hardly nobody offering couches. In the villages though I trust on the old tradional hospitality. Every few days I will allow myself a good shower, a bed and a supper in a tavern. At other times I will eat in a simple way. In the kafenion everybody is presented with a village salad and I can easily survive on Greek salads.   I will not bring with me supplies or a camp stove, just some emergency snack food. It is possible to find bread, olives and cheese in every village.

I will not bring the tent because it is too heavy. I am going to take the risk. If there will be a storm in the mountains, I will go on wallking until I find a shelter: I am ready to walk for twelve hours without interruption. I will have a parka, gloves and a wool beret. But I will have swimming trunks as well, as the air near the sea will still be warm as will the water. In my backpack I will carry some technological instruments: Gps to map the itinerary, rechargeable batteries, battery-charger, camera and videocamera, netbook to send messages and photos and a recorder to take notes. As you can imagine this part of my luggage is really heavy!

I will leave three bags along the route, at Kastelli, Askifou and Agia Roumeli. So I will be able to change my clothes, leave things I don’t need any more and ship them little by little to Chania.

In those bags I will also put the equipment that Patagonia and Scarpa have given me as a contribution for the journey: parkas, Regulator batteries, Osprey backpacks and hiking boots. These two firms have offered this equipment not to me personally, but to people doing good deeds for Crete environment, young people fighting for nature conservation – a small contribution which I will bring them.

I will leave with a rough schedule but keep an “uncertainty margin” to feel free. I will be connected with all those people who want to reach me thanks to an Internet key and will read all their messages.

In fact, everyday or two, if I don’t have the line, I will send the travel dairy, the pictures, the Gps tracks and, if we manage, also the videos – to make a live report of this special journey.  I will ship everything to the organizers of the site  www.movimentolento.it, which will contain a channel dedicated to this journey and all of it will appear onto Facebook and Twitter. Let us hope that technology will assist us!

What matters though is the journey. Its philosophy is: “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free”. It is the epitaph of Nikos Kazantakis, the author whose works I am going to read along the walk and it is equal to the Buddhist philosophy of living for the moment, without fear of the future or anxietty about the past. Therefore it is the perfect philosophy for my journey !