Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In Kolymbari - Some Issues

Sunday, June 5, 2011—Kolymbari, Crete, Greece

Left Hania late this morning and now am in Kolymbari, a little beach town maybe a forty minute bus ride west (including the time it took for the bus to make a number of stops). Basically the whole coast from Hania to here is one long series of developments, restaurants, hotels, guest houses, etc. catering to beach goers. The quality of the establishments range from resort-class to very dilapidated with everything in between. Kolymbari is the end of the line, both literally and metaphorically. Here there are a couple of resorts, but there are also abandoned buildings, some right on the beach, and crumbling houses; it’s like the developers finally ran out of gas at this point. It’s also the kind of place that shows you that Greece, despite its glitz in certain areas, is not a wealthy country.

I got here about 12:30 in the afternoon, found a place to stay (Lefka, recommended by the Lonely Planet Crete guide), settled in a bit, grabbed lunch at a little restaurant along the beach (reasonably priced, considering its location), and then headed down to the beach, where I had my first dip in the Mediterranean (ever), before lying out for a bit on the “pebbles.” It was pleasant, relaxing, though I must protest the “pebble beach” moniker that all the guidebooks give such shorelines. Pebble in American English, as I understand it, refers to very small stones, the kind that can get stuck in your shoe. This beach is not formed by pebbles in my book, but rocks, cobblestones in waiting. Again, despite this gross error in nomenclature, my time at this beach was pleasant. I look forward to better beaches down the road …

I’m not sure how long I’ll be in this location, probably another full day. Kolymbari is right at the base of the Rodopou Peninsula. Tomorrow I want to hike out to the end of Rodopou to see Diktynna, a site built for worship of the Minoan goddess of the same name that amazingly was still flourishing in Roman times. There’s also a beach at the site that is supposed to be great and usually deserted. If the map I have is accurate, it’s about a twelve, thirteen mile round-trip, which means it’s an all-day affair. That’s my main interest here, so once it’s done I’m probably gone.

Speaking of hiking, I’m realizing that I’m going to have to retool part of this trip. I had planned on doing some fairly serious full-pack hiking along the E-4 and F-1 trails thru Western Crete. That’s not going to happen—it’s just too damn hot for that. Also, my pack’s too heavy; I couldn’t even imagine a five-mile hike toting the thing, let alone the fifteen and twenty-mile excursions I had planned. What bugs me is I don’t know why it’s too heavy: I’m traveling with a minimum of gear and there’s very little I could get rid of to lighten the load. I’m a little frustrated by the change but I can’t see what else I can do.

There are some more serious problems going on as well. Today I had—am still having—what could probably best be described as an anxiety attack (I can’t think of any other name to give it). I’ve been having them fairly steadily now, at varying degrees of intensity for a couple of years now at least, and let me tell ya, they’re terrible things. Symptoms include fear of just about everyone and everything, an overwhelming sense of doom, the feeling of being trapped—all of which adds up to a kind of frantic depression. There are physical symptoms as well, which include acute muscle tensions (to the point where I can pull muscles, sometimes quite seriously), heavy joint stiffness and pain, and the inability to sleep, or worse restless dream-tormented-sleep occurs.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been having these attacks, to one degree or another, for years. I thought they were a product of overwork and job stress and that coming here for such a long time would help me get over them. Not the case, at least so far. For the last seventy-two hours I’ve been a wreck. I’m now beginning to understand what should have been obvious: that overwork and stress are not so much the cause of my problems, but what’s been bringing deep, older issues to the surface. The problem is that I don’t know how to combat these issues because I’m not sure what they are; I just have vague ideas, which I sometimes can’t even put into words. I’ve got to get a handle on myself, though, or this trip could be over before it's started.

I’m more than a little worried at the moment. “Freaked out” may not be an overstatement. Shit!

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