Stormy night and solitary days

September 2012

After enduring 14 hours of sleeping on the cold floor at the restaurant of mv Aqua Hercules, squeezed between a table and the wall, using my carry on luggage full of wine bottles as pillow and hugging my backpack tightly lest it gets stolen, I finally arrived at the small port of Corfu. My body was so swollen and tight that you can hear my bones cracking with every movement.

I was also starving. When I left Bari, I didn’t realize that I only had €15 left, which I spent on dinner of overcooked spaghetti, cola and a bottle of water.

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Visited three countries with backpack and a carry-on luggage.

A 25-degree Mediterranean weather welcomed me and although the sky was covered with clusters of dark clouds, the sun was warm, peeking every now and then. It was still so much warmer than the 15-degree weather in Hamburg, where I left five days ago.

My journey was long and back-breaking. I was very tired and  all I wanted to do was check in in my hotel, change into my bikinis and jump into the ocean.

Paleokastritsa was still 45 minutes away. I was cursing myself for choosing an accommodation so far away from town. But the view was breathtaking – towering rocks, hidden lagoons, white beaches and the coastline of the Ionian Sea, parading themselves in succession in the window of my bus.

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I just spent an hour joining a few brave souls enjoying the big waves on the beach fronting Apollo Hotel, where I was staying ’til Sunday. The waves were already getting bigger and it was becoming unsafe to swim.

“You’re so unlucky, you chose the wrong time (to come). It had not rain in Corfu for the last three months and there’s a storm coming,” said the waiter in one of the tented restaurants near the beach, while serving me a plate of grilled sardines.

I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s alright,” I replied. “I came here to be with myself.” He walked away with a sad smile directed at me.

Fresh, grilled sardines by the seaside.

I’ve always escaped to the sea whenever I am overburdened. I guess it’s the island girl in me. Life can be overbearing and every now and then, I try to escape to a place I feel the safest, the island, the sea. I’ve been travelling so much this year and working too hard as well.

Barely a month ago, I spent a long weekend in Umbria, Italy, trying to fit in a group that seemed to shun my frankness and self confidence. While work can be difficult, at least at the end of the day, I can find fulfilment with my accomplishments. People are so much more complicated. And I am not one who would try to please.

The view from my room, when the sea was still calm.

That’s why I am here, alone and stormed in, in a tired British hotel, watching the waves trying to break the beach.

I closed the shutters only partially. I wanted to hear to ocean while sleeping. It reminded me of my childhood in Marinduque, when my friends and I would go to the beach for an “overnight”.

Every teenager in the island looks forward to an overnight at the beach, together with friends and young love – trying the forbidden stuff like alcohol, cigarettes and kisses. The sea also brings me back to the three long weeks I’ve spent with Robin in Palawan – drunk on vodka, sunset and lust.

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Few brave souls dare to swim in the raging sea.

The stormy wind brought drops of rain and the salty water in my bedroom. It was cold, the cosy kind of cold that makes you want to duck under a flimsy, cotton blanket. Not the kind that gets through your bones, like what you get during winters in Holland.

But the storm raged all evening.

As the night deepened and darkness engulfed the whole island, my old demons started coming out. I am afraid of ghosts. Blame it on urban legends, Filipino folklore and my sadistic affinity to ghost films. Staying alone in old, scary hotel rooms (which I often do), scares the shit out of me.

As my imagination dived into the depths of my fear, I started perspiring cold beads of sweat. I pulled the blanket over my head, shutting my eyes tight, forcing myself to lie still on my back because turning my body towards the cabinet beside my bed might bring me face to face with the Greek ghosts living inside. Turning my back from it was not an option either, they might strangle me to death from behind.

“But how do Greek ghosts look like?” I asked myself deliriously. “Do they come in white dresses and sandals?” The Italian ghosts are easier to imagine. They look scarier.

As I began to realize the silliness of my fears, my mind returned to reality. I thought of the aging waiter at the restaurant during dinner, who became very friendly when he learned that I am a Filipina. He gave me an extra cup of linseed soup and free dessert. Now I am convinced he would climb up the balcony, creep into the open shutters and murder me. But my body felt paralyzed and I didn’t dare come out of my blanket to close the windows.

The night felt long. I think I fell asleep at about 3am. I felt tired. I hope tomorrow would be a better day.

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