April, 2012

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Thursday April 12. Holy Week in Athens

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

I arrived yesterday after 6 p.m. Athens time (1 hour ahead of Amsterdam) and managed to find a cheap 30 Euro hotel in the Omonia district. When I climbed up the stairs out of the Metro station I felt someone trying to jerk my wallet out of my back pocket. It was the same young man who I had asked the directions when I had to change stations on my way from the airport. He followed me. My backpack was in the way and he must have waited until I had to bend over to climb the stairs from the underground. Good thing my wallet was (as usual) filled with 100 Euro notes (I wish……) and therefore hard to pull from the back pocket. If I had had a little more mobility without my humongous backpack I would have have kicked the crap out of him.  I am now religiously buttoning the back pocket. Because of the austerity measures the wages of the ferry personnel have been cut back and the ferry workers decided to strike Tuesday and Wednesday to express their grievances. Not a seat available today on any of the two ferry services to Chios. This is the season when the Athenians return to their ancestral roots on the islands. Just like the Vietnamese and Chinese at Lunar New Year. I booked a spot on the ferry tomorrow leaving at 5.30 p.m. arriving at midnight in Chios. Meaning I have to get a third night hotel room in Chios for early Saturday morning because there is no transportation at that time of the night to the yard about 8 miles out of town. I will then most likely stay Saturday night as well to experience the feast of the Greek Orthodox Resurrection service in the town of Chios. Tomorrow there is a procession at noon around at several of the churches, with the crucified Christ. The below picture shows the preparations for the procession at the church of the Virgin Chryssospilotissa.

 Update on the “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”/”De mastmakersdochters”:

I did not manage to finish incorporating editing the manuscript before leaving Holland. But it is very close to being ready for publication. In the remote location, where I will be working for about 10 days to prepare “Fleetwood” after her hibernation, has very limited internet access. But I expect that I’ll be able to have all the corrections, from the volunteer editors for the Dutch as well as the English version, merged into the two manuscripts by the end of April. In addition to the grammar editing I  have received some  excellent suggestions on the structure and sequence from the volunteer editors which have made a significant improvement.

This morning I received a crash course on Sri Lanka,Tamils and Singalese,  Hinduism, Buddism and Javaism from a British couple, Bhavani and Chris,  I met at breakfast in the hotel. Bhavani is a Sri Lankan her parents returned from Burma to Sri Lanka, I forgot when.  They live in London. Chris is an amateur Bousoukis player,  in the   “Rebetiko recycled band”.  I am particularly intrigued by the role the Dutch and Javanese play in the Javanism section of Hinduism. This means that I may need to live far beyond my 100 year goal to take a side trip to plug this void in my education.  And discover a part of the world that has until now not excited my sense of discovery, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This might mean that instead of crossing the Atlantic to Cartagena I might consider travelling the Suez Canal, Red Sea and beyond. The world, on a sailboat, is my/your playground…..

 I intended to attend the Maundy Thursday service at the Chrissopiliotissa church but ended up consuming a two Euro pita wrap in a fast food restauarant for dinner. And ended up in the strangest company I have ever encountered. It might just be the source for my next book.

Four Swedes speaking in  Dari one of the Afghanistan (Persian) languages. The leader, or elder, in his early forties and three young men in their late teens. Their relationship to the elder seemed to be kept somewhat mysterious. One of the three young men was definitely, in my opinion, from Vietnamese parents and not Thai which he was told he was. His parents had passed away at his early age. His Afghan name is Javad Muslimi.  The second young man acknowledged to be part Chinese. The third passed for an Afghani. How did they become a foursome. How did they end up in Afghanistan and  Sweden?  Who were there parents?




April 8 Easter Sunday. He is Risen!

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

I feel very fortunate that I was able to experience one of the best Easter Holy Weeks I can remember. Tuesday evening I attended the performance of the St. Matthew Passion in the Jacob Obrecht church. It was an abbreviated ( two instead of three hours) version. Toonkunstkoor Amsterdam was the adult choir and the beautiful voices of the young children of the Choirschool St.Bavo from Haarlem took part in the first half of the performance. Part of this same choir sang at the Holy (Maundy) Thursday mass in the St. Bavo basilica and the entire Choirschool choir once again this morning at St. Bavo. Good Friday I attended as well in the St.Bavo. The bishop gave a very joyful sermon today to an overflow attendance. The choir sang the Halleluia chorus from Haendel’s Messiah as the recessional. I am blessed to have had this opportunity.

There was not enough light to get a good picture without flash, but you’ll get the idea of how impressive this service was.

After church I stopped to see Evert Slijper who had arrived yesterday evening from Oregon to visit his 93 year old mother. She lives two miles from where I am staying with my cousin. Evert and I met in 1973 in Eugene, Oregon where Evert lives. Evert is also a sailing fanatic and still in the wood business.

The weather has turned cold again. But still relatively dry and an occasional sunny spell. I’ll be in Greece when the Tulips are in bloom. Lots of Hyacinths, Crocuses and Daffodils.

The Mastmakers’ Daughters: I am working hard on blending the corrections in and still hope to have all the updates done before I leave for Greece. The titles have changed as “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” and “De Mastmakersdochters” and a number of other structural revisions. Some excellent suggestions have come in and it it keeps getting better yet.





Palm Sunday April 1

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

On one of the most photo scenic events on the Dutch church calendar my camera is out of action. I have ordered a new battery charger. Grade school children processed this Palm Sunday through the church with crosses decorated with special baked bread rolls and sweets.

It’s Holy Week and the Saint Matthew and Saint John Passion are performed in many old churches and concert halls all over Holland. I am going to attend the St.Matthew passion this Tuesday in the Jacob Obrecht church in Amsterdam. It’s been a busy week of visits with many friends and family members. And more to come this week and next before departure, April 11. Yesterday I visited family in the Betuwe the land between Lek And Waal where “Fleetwood” passed through on the way to the Rhine, in 2010. In the afternoon I was given the tour of the old city of Leyden, from where the Pilgrims set off for the New World, where Rembrandt lived and painted, and where the first University was founded, in 1574, in Holland. Annemiek, a friend I made on a flight from Chicago, lives in Leyden and was able to show me parts of this city the ordinary tourist never sees. Unfortunately I have nothing to show you, with my camera problem.

The nice warm sunny days we had last week have turned cold but still very little precipitation. The corrections on “The Mastmakers Daughters” are starting to come in and I am busy trying to keep up with blending them in to my manuscripts.  

The highest hills in Amsterdam. Coal in Amsterdam Westport. Taken while visiting, last Wednesday, Marinus and Leni on m/v “Glissando” my tow up the Rhine in 2010.