Thursday, January 7, 2016

A New Level Mythos - Finally

It's taken a long time, but I finally have a new site--a new LEVEL MYTHOS. It's not quite done yet and will be expanding, but it's now good to go. It will be replacing this site and my old Level Mythos. I will leave this one up as an archive site for awhile at least. Hope to see you at the new place!

Friday, March 21, 2014


Hi Everyone. I just wanted to let you all know that I have a new site, which has he same name  as one of my earlier sites - Level Mythos. It's a combination blog and literary home page. It is designed to replace the earlier Level Mythos site, as well as this one.

I will be keeping this blog up as a kind of archive site and redirect for the next few months. I hope everybody who has enjoyed this site checks out my new one!

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Few More Lendas Photos - Sunset

Just some photos I took on a little hike I did the last evening I was in Lendas ...

Lendas at the beginning of sunset (from the east)

The east of Lendas at sunset

Coast east of Lendas looking west

More of the coast looking east of Lendas

Crumbling house at the east edge of the village

Sunset Rob

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lazy Lendas, Lazy Rob

Monday, July 30, 2013—Lendas, Crete, Greece
My little trip to Lendas has turned out to be an extended stay—I'll be leaving Wednesday, which will make it nearly a full week for me here. I'm feeling a little guilty about this. Shouldn't I be exploring new places, climbing mountains, engaging in new forms of cultural immersion? No—that's me turning my life into a job again. The truth is I am tired and I needed (need) a spot into which I could settle for a while, do little besides, swim, sun, read, and generally gather myself together a bit (my illness took much more out of me than I'd realized)—and I found that here. 
            One thing I haven't being doing here, though, is writing. This is only the second time I've sat down and put down anything for the blog. The truth is there's not really much to write about (which is of course a good thing—that's why I came here: to sequester myself from any drama). So what have I been doing? Like I said: swimming, lying in the sun (both at the beach to the west of town, which is much larger and nicer than the one in town), poking around at the various archaeological sites (the town and much of the surrounding area is one big site, with components going back to Minoan time up thru Roman, etc.), and reading, Thoreau's journals and the Gary Snyder Reader (I always know I'm coming to the end of a trip when I feel the urge to start picking up American writers). Since I know that I'm going to Gavdos next I haven't even been making plans. Again, all of this is good—I feel much better than when I came here, both physically and mentally: I feel I've re-established my center in both respects …

Lendas Notes:
This little sliver of Crete's southern coast, like Gavdos island to the south, is classified by geographers as being part of the North African climate zone, not the Mediterranean zone that the rest of Crete falls into. This makes perfect sense. It's hot here, but it's a different kind of hot than the rest of mainland Crete: it's drier, starker, more rough and tumble. The landscape also looks different, much more desert like.

The name Lendas comes from the Greek term for lion. I read something about the name being applied because the little inlet in which Lendas if found is supposed to look like a lion's mane or something. I don't see it. By that logic any crescent-shaped inlet, of which Greece has a great many, could be called Lendas—we'd be up to our eyes balls in lions. It explains the name of the Lions bar, though, which is found right in the village center …

Tanned, lazy, but also getting a little antsy to move on: that's me at the moment (I actually got bored at the beach today, which is a rarity).

Lendas from the east

Where 'm staying. Love the barbed wire in this shot - it makes the place look like a little prison. Actually it's quite comfortable and the woman who runs it is very sweet.

Part of a terracotta oil lamp I found on the surface of an archaeological site on the hill east of the village

Part of a floor mosaic at an archaeological site literally just above where I'm staying

History tumbled down ...

Less prison-like view of my Lendas home

Harsh beauty of the region - Looking east from high up on the hill that marks off the western limits of Lendas
 Lendas from that some hill

Beach to the west of Lendas

Fresh archaeological pits to the east of the village

Love the way wave action has shaped this rock - it's turned it into a wave itself

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Plakias Turnaround?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013—Plakias, Crete, Greece
Started moving west for the final push before I go home. I was planning on going to Lendas, a little village on the south coast of Iraklio province I like, for a few days. But even with leaving Myrtos on the 7:00 AM bus I didn't make it to Iralkio in time for that day's rare bus for Lendas. So I decided to maybe swing back around that place in my last days here, since otherwise I would have had to spend two nights in the hated city of Iraklio, which has got to be one of the least attractive urban areas in the whole Aegean. I'm beginning to think I made a mistake, though.
I ended up in Plakias, mainly because I was hoping to catch a bus from here to Frangokastello. I quickly found out, though, that bus route has been eliminated, apparently a long time ago (my Lonely Planet guide would seem to be way out of date on this one). There's a little tourist boat that heads that way, but it hasn't been going out because of the wind. Which brings me to one of the reasons I wish I hadn't come here. Plakias lies at the mouth a huge gorge, which runs a long way roughly north south thru the Rethymno province. This gorge funnels all the hot inland air towards the sea, which means that it can get really windy by the coast. Since I've been here (I arrived about thirty hours ago) the wind has been howling day and night non-stop. This makes doing pretty much anything here a drag: hiking means getting blown off ridgelines, the beach is a swirling mess of sand, and even sitting in a taverna with a drink can be challenging (yesterday while having a coffee in a place just off the main road thru town I watched a gust of wind knock over a nearly full glass of beer—my coffee was in my hand, luckily). Basically since arriving I've been hiding from the wind and trying to figure out what to do next. More on that in a second.
The other main reason Plakias doesn't thrill me is that it's frankly a kind of dull place. It looks nice and is certainly pleasant enough (the people who live and work here, as a group, are among the nicer people I've met in Crete), but it's basically characterless: it exists to serve the needs of tourists and therefore has little in the way of soul. It's of course also not particularly Greek—that's a big part of the blandness. It's another example of what I've taken to calling Beach Vacationland: the holiday spot that could be in any warm beachie place in the world for all it matters.
My next decision is whether or not I backtrack to Iralkio and hit Lendas (I can easily make it there in time for the Wednesday bus) or head forward to Paleohora and then Gavdos. I'm leaning towards to former. Though I hate to backtrack, I also hate to miss getting somewhere I want to be. Plus, there's something special about Lendas—it exudes a kind of healing energy—and I'm feeling the need for some of that. I'm also not quite feeling well enough to tackle camping on Gavdos, especially since I want to spend four or five days there. I have ticket for the 7:00 AM bus to Rethymno and I can go either direction from there. So I may end of making my decision on the fly …

Health Notes:
Feeling a lot better overall, though still not 100%. I'd say I'm hanging out somewhere in the 85% range. Feeling slightly feverish now and then and I have a bit of chest congestion, which is new. Still completely confused as to what it was that knocked me down. 

Windy Plakias - I love this shot. First off it's so windy they're not even bothering to open the umbrellas. Secondly, those are my footprints. Everybody gets to make a fresh set because the wind just blows the old ones away ...

Myrtos Love / Ierapretra Bashing - Feeling Better

Saturday, July 20, 2013—Myrtos, Crete, Greece
Feeling considerably better, to the point where I'm getting a bit bored: I'm forcing myself to lay low because I know I'm not full speed but I'm close enough that doing little has become a job. I did manage to make it to a new destination at least. I'm now in Myrtos on the southeast shore of the island. This place is almost exactly what I expected it to be. But more on that later. I want to say a bit about the bus ride down here first …
            It took a route that sliced thru nearly the center of the Lasithi province (which geographically amounts to roughly the eastern fourth of the island. The richness of the valleys and foothills I saw on Crete's eastern coast increased dramatically as we veered inland and south; I realized that I was seeing the edge of this part of the island's very productive agricultural zone. The olive trees were everywhere of course, as were all sorts of vegetable plots, plus some vineyards and other kinds of orchards; things were greener here that on any other part of the island I've been to, including the center of the Iraklio province, which was extremely productive, impressively so. 
            A we came out on the southern side of the mountains things became a bit less fertile, though there was still much more green than I've seen anywhere else on this island's southern shore. Soon, though, as were neared the city of Ierapetra, the greenhouses this area is famous for began appearing. One of the reason this city and the areas around it have such a bad rep is that these contraptions, frames covered exclusively it seems with stretched white plastic of some sort, as seen as being a major eyesore. I've seen these things in other parts of Crete but in nothing approaching the number they have around here. In small numbers they didn't bother me; I hardly noticed them, actually. Seeing them practically coating the coast here, though, I quickly came to the conclusion I agreed with their detractors: these things are pretty damn ugly. Still, the produce is almost uniformly good here and a lot of it is grown in these tents. Seeing that I've eaten and enjoyed my fair share of it I don't feel I have too much right to complain. That doesn't mean that I have to like looking at the things, though.  Nor does it mean that I have to keep entirely quiet on the subject …
            Ierapetra itself also has a pretty bad rep: the tour guides pan it en masse and I've never heard any traveler have a good thing to say about it—for most of them it was a place you had to get thru to get to somewhere more interesting. After the bus came out of the hills we hugged the coast for a while to the east of the city (this area was surprisingly touristy and built up, like a mini, far less intense version of the coastal tourist strips in the north). Finally we came around and down a bend and could see Ierapetra. After being on little island and Crete's relatively empty east coast it seemed shockingly large. Lonely Planet calls it a dusty agricultural hub, or something to that effect. Later, as the next bus I took moved thru it to its western outskirts where the number of greenhouses increased exponentially, I could see where this description comes from (my guess is that this become even more pronounced on its inland fringe, which I did not see). What I wasn't ready for was the ritzy, trendy, and frankly lame-ass fashion tourist atmosphere I also would encounter.
            I had to wait about two hours before the next bus left there to Myrtos, so I decided to wander the town a bit and track down something to eat. I couldn't really get too far, both because I had to stay relatively close to the bus station and because I had my full pack with me and I didn't really want to lug it around town (I was still feeling slightly feverish from the illness of a couple days past). I quickly found myself on a waterfront that was lined with trendy cafes that really could have been anywhere in Europe. Backing these were the same silly tourist shops one can find pretty much everywhere. The place was completely characterless: it reminded me of certain sections of Iraklio, which has got to be one of the ugliest cities in the entire Aegean. I was starving so I picked a cafĂ© (they all looked pretty much the same, so based my choice mostly on which one seemed to have the cutest servers working there). After eating a boring club sandwich I walked around some more and, yep, everywhere I went reminded me of a lower-key Iraklio. I got so annoyed that I went back to the bus station a half hour earlier than planned and waited things out there …
            Myrtos is far more pleasant. As I said, it looks pretty much exactly as I thought it would. It's a semi out-of-the way little beach village, moderately touristy, but with a bit of a Greek feel to it still. It reminds me of a bigger version of Lendas, the little beach enclave on the south shore of the Iraklio province where I more or less ended my trip last time thru. Houses climbing up fairly steep hills. A small flat coastal strip. Restaurants, shops, but real places too, like an actual Greek bakery and some shops where everything seems written in Greek only. A decent beach, not very crowded because this place it a touch off the beaten path. Little to do in town do besides swim and eat and decided when and where you next want to swim and eat. It looks like it will be a nice low-key place to wind away a couple of days, to finish healing from my illness. As of right now my impression of the place is that I've been to similar little beach towns I like a bit better (such as the aforementioned Lendas). Still, I do like this place a lot—it's got a really good vibe and is definitely pretty (it's also on a beautiful stretch of coast, now that most of the greenhouses have been left behind). I'm glad I've come here …
            I didn't get into town until about one this afternoon. By the time I got a place (a nice room with a kitchen nearly on top of one of the hills that backs the town—I have a fantastic view—for fifteen euros a night less than I was paying for basically the same thing in Kato Zagros) and explored the town a bit all I was really up for was a little beach time. There's a Minoan site I want to see here that's back up in the hills a ways and another hike thru this cool looking gorge I want to do, so that will be my day tomorrow (plus a little more beach time). And then I'll be off the next morning.
Suddenly feeling a little tired. Thinks I'll call it a night on this writing.

Myrtos from above

Myrtos from my Balcony

Myrtos waterfront

 Beach at Myrtos

Greenhouses on the shore

The steps up to where I was staying

Minoan site above Mytros

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Crash and Burn

Thursday, July 18, 2013—Kato Zagros, Crete, Greece
What a difference a few days makes. I don't feel like writing (again—you'll see) about what's been going on, so I've decided to just cut-and-paste from an email I wrote my sister and a few close friends.

I'm writing a joint email because I'm hoping one of you might have some useful info for me. Something truly scary happened to me starting yesterday morning and I'm still trying to piece it all together. Yesterday I woke up with a rash on a big chunk of my body. It was especially bad on pelvis and the back of my thighs. It looked just like the reaction I get when I've run into poison oak (though it wasn't as itchy—at first). I've never noticed any poison oak here and the day before I was just at the beach with some friends of mine I met here two years ago—I was no where near any plants that could have done this to me.

I noticed, though, that the lower sheet on the bed I'd been sleeping on had pulled up and about half the mattress was exposed. I concluded that there must have been something in the mattress that had produced this reaction. This seemed to make sense for two reasons. In the cheap places in which I usually stay the beds are old and have had God knows how many people sleep on them; they could harbor all sorts of things I could have reaction to. Also the rash, though worst where I previously stated, also was found on patches of my arms, hands, etc., as if only the parts of my body that had touched the mattress had been affected. Thinking I'd figured things out, I took a hot shower to get off whatever it was that was messing me up and went on with my day. A few hours later it appeared my guess was right—the rash seemed to be going away.

Later I got on a bus heading south. Other than the rash I felt fine (I was actually feeling a touch run down, but I'd been feeling that way for several days). Later that afternoon, though, I noticed that the rash seemed to be coming back, on other parts of my body. Then that evening, while I was sitting in the room I'd just gotten, I started feeling feverish. By the time I'd made it back from getting something to eat a few hours later the rash had spread to about 75% of my body, was incredibly itchy, and my fever was raging. Soon I couldn't stand up without feeling like I was going to both heave and fall down. I also couldn't eat or drink anything, even water—I knew it would come back up.

It's very hard for me to describe the rest of the night, mainly because I've never felt so bad before and I've never felt bad at all in this particular way. I don't know how high my fever was, but it had to be way up there. It was also a weird fever, in that it was dry as hell--I couldn't perspire at all. The only way I can think of to describe how I was feeling is to say it felt like my body was going explode into dust and blow away. Added to this was an exponential increase in how itchy I was. I know I can sometimes be a bit of a wus when I get sick, but this was of an entirely different order to anything I've ever experienced. For several hours straight last night I really thought I was going to die by myself in a little room in eastern Crete. I couldn't have even crawled for help if I'd had to ...

This morning at about five the fever finally broke (though it hasn't left me completely) and the rash has be slowly diminishing, though it still covers at least 40% of my body. By about nine I could finally walk short distances without feeling like was going to throw up or land on my face. I've slowly been feeling better since then, though I still feel l worse than I've ever felt in my life outside of last night.

The question I've been asking myself and now you folks is what the hell happened to me! My only symptoms were the high and very strange fever and the rash (the off stomach is probably just a byproduct of the fever), so I think this rules out any kind of virus or bacterial cause. The only thing I can think of that could cause this would be a severe allergic reaction, probably to something like a bug bite. I've been researching on-line, though, and Crete is very benign in this area--there are no spiders or insects I can track down that would likely to be able to do this, nor anything else I can find (there aren't even any poisonous snakes here—plus I think I’d  remember if I got bit by snake). Does any of this ring any bells with any of you? Any insight you can give me would be greatly appreciated. I need to do whatever I can to make sure this doesn't happen again: I honestly don't think I could make it thru a second night like last one.

My recovery turned out to not quite be as abrupt as this letter made it sound: the fever came back strong the next night and throughout the day the rash came back and spread, to many parts of my body untouched before, like my lips and face. Last night, though, was different than the previous one, in that I could feel myself healing. This morning I woke up and 98% of the rash was gone and so was most of the fever (though I still feel ferverish). I'm still week and I have the chills, but I know I’m moving passed it, whatever it was …

            What happened between my last entry and my illness? A lovely day and a half hanging out with my friends from Paris. But that seems hardly worth reporting at the moment: this illness has so scrambled me, so thrown me off stride that nothing else seems all that important. Going to stay here until the late morning bus to Sitia comes tomorrow. I've hardly seen any of this place and Xerokambos down the road will have to be skipped (it's a 10km hike there and that is not going to happen in my present condition). I'll probably head down to Myrtos and heal for a few days. Then I'll try and put the pieces back together and finish out the last couple of weeks of my trip at least somewhat as I'd planned …