Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I had wanted to write a blogpost on Thanksgiving day of 2013 because it had marked four months since I'd stopped walking, the exact amount of time it took me to cross the European continent. I never got to writing it.
In February I wanted to post another blog entry after I noticed my weight had stabilized (though with added pounds)  plus a good friend had also commented, "you really seems like you're back to your self, Stevyn". I agreed with her. But I never wrote that post either.
It is now April 1st, 2014 and the one year anniversary of the start of my epic journey. It is also my birthday. A part of me feels melancholy today, helped, no doubt, by a day of gray & rain. But as I've reflected on where I was a year ago and what has transpired in this year past, I have felt a sense of overwhelmingness as well as a dream-like quality which makes the trek feel a bit intangible too.
I cannot remember the last time I have been home for my birthday. Usually, I am working outside of the city. Last year I was in Spain. I thought for once I might enjoy this moment of a birthday at home (Not that birthdays are really so very important to me. Actually, birthdays are anniversaries. My anniversary, on the day my mother birthed me). But as the morning wore on I felt more & more like all I wanted to do was cocoon inside my apartment and finish a project I'd started related to my walk, one I'd wished to have had done today.

Slowly I have been building a web page and on that web page I've been uploading my photos onto slideshows. My goal was to share the link to that web page on my one year anniversary. Alas, it is not complete. However, I did stay inside & diligently work on those slideshows finishing up the last one late this afternoon. I still want to tweak a few things here & there and make a few changes to the actual web page itself before I allow others to enjoy it. Soon I hope to have it fully completed.
It was a bit strange though, to be mindful of the beginning of my walk while looking at the last photos of that journey. Everytime a picture of myself appeared I would peer at my face and see something I felt, mainly exhaustion at that point. But for those first three months, rain aside, I had a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
These days I feel the overall after effects of last year's sojourn. There has been a change, a shift, something like a tilt to my axis. At first it was huge and I was very much affected by the return home & the readjustment to the life I'd left. Then things started to even out, though it took time. A lot of time actually. Once the major alterations vanished they turned into more like minor nuances. Well, I say minor in comparison to what I was feeling the first few months back. But really, the minor shifts have become more permanent changes as if something subtle is taking root and grounding me in an different way.
I have welcomed these shifts and have tried to remain aware of them, understand them and even nurture them. Overall, the changes move so slowly that there hardly seems to be much movement at all and yet I am cognizant that forces are at work.
If I were to explain these changes one might jump to the conclusion that it's nothing more than "getting older". I would agree to a certain extent. Hopefully, as one gets older they separate the chaff from the wheat and follow a path based upon one's life-learned lessons. But I think it's more than that. For myself, I would say there has also been, and continues to be, a spiritual opening that is carefully allowing  a different kind of light in. It's not always there. Sometimes my moments and days are no different then they were a year ago. But there are more of these rays seeping in and I am trying to bask in the clarity that the light is trying to provide.

I told myself during my walk that if I made it to Istanbul in one piece, safely, that everything else in life would be a bonus. I try to remember that when I get upset because I'm not getting my way or something doesn't work out. Most of the time I'm doing alright. Other times could use some improving. But I am grateful for all that I have, mostly my friends and family.
It's odd because I used to have so much ambition to do so many things. If they get done now, great. And if they do not, great. Finishing the walk meant much to me. At the time it was a vocation-calling plus a sense of accomplishment. But the walking is really more of a metaphor for the course I stumbled upon to flow a path which I am still on. Walking is therapeutic, it is meditation, it dredges up life and also produces art. It is art. Just like life.
A good friend of mine has told me for years that he thinks my greatest work of art has been the way I've lived my life. OK. Yes. Agreed. But now, what if I do nothing? Does it matter if I continue with such flare or simply find a route with ground beneath my feet?
Sure, I still have dreams. I have places I'd like to visit, art I'd like to make, songs I want to sing, people I want to hug. But it's all ok if nothing more happens. I'm just going to keep looking at the light.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Follow Up

I have been home a week now.  Most of that time I have spent inside my apartment, sequestered and safe. It's strange because for all the time I spent outside during my walk 'outside' now seems unappealing and even frightening at times. Of course I am in the big city which makes a difference. And San Francisco is certainly becoming "the Big City" as more and more high rises claim every available open space blocking out views, sunlight and that open feeling that added to SF's charm. Even the big city lot two blocks from my place that I helped turn into a beautiful urban farm/garden was razed while I was gone and is slated for more expensive high rises. I'm choking here.

But inside I feel good. I have slept much, read, listened to music, sat still. It is a refuge. Being quiet has helped. I still am not keen to talk about the walk too much; I believe I need to distance myself from it a bit more before I can begin to digest it all (over again). It was/is a lot. Fortunately, many friends have been respectful enough to give me the space I need and have tried to understand where I'm coming from. I don't expect everyone to empathize because some just cannot. My friends, however, that have traveled far & wide and for long periods of time, they get it. My former Peace Corps friends get it. My friend who walked this summer in peace against the Keystone Pipeline, he gets it. In fact, he is going through a bit of the same thing I am right now and his journey was only three weeks.
I have read a little (there seems to be only a little available) online about "post-hiker depression". How to make sense of it all. How to reintegrate after months of being so close to the earth, especially now surrounded by so much concrete. I'm maybe less depressed than I am confused. I'm just not sure what-next, where-next. I am trying to get back to my pre-walk life but except for a few things it doesn't fit right anymore. So there is now a rearranging to come, to figure out how to live. Out with the old, in with the new. But more immediate, I just want to walk outside and breathe again. I want to hear birds not cars. I want to listen to the rustle of leaves in the breeze not young hipsters yelling to their friends. I want to see sky not buildings. For now I must accept that I am smack dab in the city, in a rent-controlled, affordable apartment and find my peace where I can.

I may have done something very brilliant before I left in March--I accepted some work in early September that has me outside the city, in more open spaces. Already I am relishing the escape, to be outdoors and feel the tranquil environs of nature. Until then, I must continue to rest and build up my strength. I went out yesterday to run a few errands on my own. Parts of my feet are still numb, I'm guessing from nerves that were a bit overused. The bum knee I had originally dealt with during the start of my walk is fairing well as long as I do my daily stretches. But it was my legs that got wobbly after an hour, as if I were a newborn colt standing up for the first time. And I got woozy, light-headed too. I realized I had reached overload so I closed my eyes, blocked out stimulation, breathed, and got centered again before I continued.

Time heals all, right? This will be no different. I just wonder where I'll be when it's time to rebuild and move on. Something new must emerge. Something. One friend has already asked when I will be walking the next portion of the world, namely "Istanbul to Beijing". When I read that I thought, 'you gotta be kidding, I just stopped'.  Moments later, however, I was giving it consideration. Walking just makes sense. And at this point I rule out nothing.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Hardest Part

I am beginning to wonder what was/is the hardest part of this whole journey? Is it the walk and its various parts or is the return back "home"?

When I arrived in the U.S. (I first landed in Charlotte, N.C.) I went through the usual customs procedures only then to find myself having to go through a second, Homeland Securities search, whereby some very stoic official tore apart every single thing I had with me down to empty plastic bags and folded up socks. He claimed I had been to too many countries which thus warranted my shakedown. I felt like a criminal in my own land.

I had crossed so many borders during my previous months and at nearly all, I received smiles, congrats on my walk (miles done up to that point) and even welcomes. In my own country I received nothing, not a "welcome back home" or smile or anything. Only the unfriendly patdown of a convict. It set a rotten tone.

The U.S. citizens at the airport were also a different breed from the folks I had been interacting with these past months. Movements were faster, everyone was on a handheld device, little courtesy, lots of swearing.

Since I had missed my connecting flight from Charlotte I was fortunate to find a United Airlines rep who was very sympathetic and booked me on another flight on a different carrier without much layover time. I needed his friendliness to get me through the next couple hours.

I arrived in Cleveland, Ohio to spend time with my family. Things started off well and I tried everyday to maintain a sense normalcy. But to be honest, my head hasn't adjusted to being back, my body is drained of energy, and it ended up not being my best family visit.

On the eve of returning to SF I question how I will feel walking into my studio apartment, being surrounded by city. I feel unsure. By not walking I do not seem to process my days as well as I was when I was on the road. I'm not making the best decisions. My head spins suddenly and then it stops but I am not entirely sure where it has stopped. If I was the Happy Wanderer in Europe then I feel like the Lost Soul in America. Maybe all I need is more rest and time to reaquaint myself to home life. I hope so.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Dream Within A Dream

If Dr. Seuss was a Turk he'd most definitely be from Cappadocia. What a strange and beautiful place. The "fairy chimney" formations are remarkable shapes of whimsy, dollops of cream stone, pinnacles, castles, fat phallus forms, balanced rocks, witch hats, and many carved into years ago as homes, monasteries, churches, pigeon houses, storage areas. The history of the region goes back to 8,000 BC. Some of the rock hewn churches have original paintings inside that are 100s of years old when the Xtians moved in. It is all very mind-boggling. Cappadocia should be a number one choice for any traveler into art, history and nature. Walking through some of the valleys has been a perfect antidote to time in busy Istanbul. I am reminded of a mix of Death Valley, Zion and Bryce but all with it's own specialness. Four days was a good way to wind things down.

But I must admit that much of how I feel is dream-like. The walk seems so very distant now. It too does not seem real. How can something so long and arduous and indelible feel so far away? It's nearly as if it never happened. Someone explain this too me. Sure, I get a flash of a moment from my walk during the daytime but I have also gotten that from some of my vivid dreams too. Which is real? Maybe it has to do with the stopping of movement. When I walked the past several days in the valleys of Cappadocia I have felt very happy and invigorated again. Thoughts flowed freely. But when I've stopped for periods during my waking hours I have felt more muddled, unclear, not sure of who I am or where I am or where I was, what I did. Maybe I just need some time to ease back into a non-walking road life. I know I adjusted to life on the road, to a life of full, daily motion. And that took weeks.

I leave in a few hours for a bus to Ankara and then wait at the airport for an early AM flight(s) back to the US. It has only been 5 months that I have been away but it feels like a year. My body is looking forward to just sitting around for 24 hours but my mind is dreading it. At least the planes I will fly will be traveling at great speeds even if I will rest comfortably in a still chair.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Last Pıece Of The Puzzle

Am I a masochıst?

I awoke two nights ago at 3AM and needed to pull out my maps and look at them. I wasn't feeling right. My original intention was to walk from Gilbraltar, known in ancient times as the gateway to the west, to Istanbul which was the gateway to the east. The whole of the European continent. But I never walked to the edge, I never did walk to the Bosphorus and look out over to Asia. I needed to finish my walk.

Catalca was satisfactory as a landing as it was just inside the Istanbul border. And I was so tıied last Sunday that it was fine with me. But with strength coming back I started to feel that I could have walked the final chunk had I only the power at the time. That time was now. I knew I could now walk most of the rest of this route, especially with my big pack off my shoulders.

I took a taxi this morning before 4AM to withın about 10-12km of Catalca. There is a stretch before that which might not have been very good to walk on because of the vehicular movement. Where I started was, for the most part, with some sort of sidewalk area. A few times I had to run across exit ramps (I was on a motorway) which I never could have done with my 33 pound backpack. It was so much easier without the weight on my shoulders. Luckily, my morning was full of cloud cover and even a few sprinkles.

I walked about 45 km with my ipod on to ease the sound of the freeway. In the neıghborhood of Topkapi I  got to see a huge chunk of the old city walls which was marvelous and then I continued straight to Hagia Sophia and the Sultanahmet neighborhood. From there I went through the gardens of the Topkapi Palace which was a peaceful respite from the rest of the morning and a lovely way to wind things down. Finally, I went to the water's edge where the Marmara Sea and The Golden Horn meet with the Bosphorus Straight which separates Europe from Asia. I made it to the end of Europe. And today it really feels like the walk is complete.

I am not too tired though my feet retaliated a little. I am going to see whirling dervishes tonight and tomorrow will take a boat cruise up the Bosphorus. I leave Istanbul in the PM for some inland rest at Cappadocia.

I am sure most folks who tuned in to the last blog will not even read this because they will think the walk was over. But it did not feel over for me and I think I would have had regrets had I left Istanbul without finishing this final piece of my walk. I think I will really feel at peace now.

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 28, 2013, 7:21 AM, local tıme

Istanbul. I made it! I made it.
4 paırs of shoes, 14 countries, 17 weeks, 120 days, 3,240 mıles (100 more than my N. Amerıcan trek).

I am here.

And I am ın recovery mode now.

When I last blogged I was in Greece. I left the country that same day, I wanted no more problems with border crossıngs and I had none. But Mr. Patrol was waiting for me at the exit. I could tell because he mentioned my walking a long distance when I got to his depot so I could tell he'd be forewarned of my coming. Despite the glitch at the border I very much want to go back to Greece someday and really see the country. I could tell from my brief stınt there that the people are very warm and fun, unlike ın Bulgaria. They had that genuine spark of life and the graciousness of welcoming a stranger.

Turkey was no different. I walked long that day from Greece to Edirne. Along the way I followed a stretch of shaded, cobbled street with old trees and restaurants lined on the banks of a river. A man stopped to inquire where I was goıng and I explained to him what I had been doing. He said, "you are Superman" and I said, " no, I am crazy man" to which he countered, " no, you are beautiful man". Beautiful is a word they use in Turkey to say something is very good. To me it was like a congratulations for all my hard work and a shot of elation soared through me. I felt like Sissy Spacek as Carrie on prom night--well, at least until the bucket of pigs blood was dumped all over her. I was beaming.
I came to a brıdge which crossed over the river and there in the distance was a huge, four-minaret mosque looking like a Muslim Magic Kingdom. It was gorgeous. I got a room at a hotel. Then I  walked out to explore, turned a corner, and before me was a stone, pedestrian street with fountains and statues and lots of people out, all smiling, kids on bikes saying, WELCOME to me. It felt so wonderful to be there....and in my last country. A nice way to usher in the final days.
I got food at a small restaurant and a mother and daughter invited me to sit wıth them to eat. Very rare on this trip for women to do that. I asked about the Turk's friendliness and the daughter said, "we like tourists".

I wısh I could say that the days that followed, my final days, were as glorious. They were not. In fact, they were horrible and my worst. The yellow road I got on through the towns of Kirklareli, Pinar Hisar, Vize, Saray was mostly flat, unshaded, very hot (I left one morning at 5AM and it was already over 90 degrees), and without decent food. The road got so hot that my shoes squished atop the soft tar. When vehicles drove by it sounded like it had just rained as the black mass of melted goo liquified. So I did what any abnormal person would do....I walked my ass off with very little stopping. I skipped my stretching, I skipped eating, I skipped resting. I just walked. I walked so I could be done as soon as possible. The scenery was ugly, mostly sunflower fields and cut hay meadows but with very hazy skies and a dirty horizon my eyes were not pleased with in any way. After a few sunflower fields I just barely noticed them.
Top things off wıth a lot of garbage, cowcrap everywhere, and the stray-wild dogs and I was not very happy in europe anymore. Except to know I was almost done.

There was one bright light of good news. Folks started to tell me that Istanbul was such a large cıty that its borders extended out far and that I would not need to walk as far as I thought to reach the borderline. That was exciting to hear. Then, in Saray, at a mom & pop hotel where I decided to bunk for the night, the father told me that Istanbul started in the next village, the one I planned to walk to the next day! HUH? But he said there was no sign there. So his friend offered to drive me in another directıon about 20km to where there was a sign that said Welcome To Istabul. There I could make pictures but still go the route I wanted to in the morning. So that's what I did. Only, when we drove we went in the direction I was going to walk the next morning. Was he confused? We drove and drove and drove and when I tried to stop him he waved his hand for me to wait (he spoke no English). We got to the village Safaalan but still no sign. Then, after the village was a big sign that said ISTANBUL with something in Turkish underneath. I had the driver use his cell to call the hotel owner's son (who spoke english and in fact had spent three months working at Cleveland Hopkins Airport in 2006 as part of an exchange program. Talk about how small the world is gettıng.....well, on second thought I just walked a continent and it doesn't really seem that small) and he translated the sign as ISTANBUL BEGINS HERE.
I had the driver take some photos of me. I was ecstatic. I would finish so many days earlier than thought. I'd get off the road.
I had little sleep that night, not from excitement but from the man in the room next to me talking loudly all night and smoking incessantly. Then, at 2AM some guy with a snare drum walked up and down the streets banging it mercilessly. I decided to leave and walk in the dark. The driver had written down for me that the distance we had covered to sign was 35km (he had made some motion with his fingers which looked like 17 but 35 seemed more realistıc). It was cool at 3AM and there were stars. This was the way to end my walk, not like my hellish day before when I was getting ready to throw myself over the edge. A pack of 9 dogs tried to attack me but I managed to escape from them with my crazy yelling and throwing of rocks. Otherwise it was quiet and peaceful. The road was unlike the earlier yellow roads. There were trees. No villages for miles and miles. And hardly any traffıc.

But then a weird thing happened. Dawn came and before I knew it I was in Safaalan. There was no way I could have walked 35 km and then it hit me--O/W was 17km and R/T was 35. I had walked 17KM. What was so weird was that, in the car the day before, the distance seemed so much longer as a drive than it was as a walk. 17km in a car seems to be much longer than 17km! I came to the sign where I'd made my photos and completed my ceremonious crossing. But something didn't feel right. I had the feeling that this sign delineated where the DISTRICT of Istanbul started, not the city because I was still very much out in the sticks. Was that good enough for me? I thought it would be ok but I also didn't feel like stopping. It was such a peaceful morning I wanted to absorb the ending a little more. My surroundings were bucolic with rolling hills and much green.
I got to a little village called Binkili and some Turks were pulled over, obviously not locals but probably Sunday drivers from Istanbul out enjoying the countryside. I asked them if I were in Istanbul. They had a map. And that map showed the borders of the city. I was not there. But I wasn't too far either. It meant I would need to walk a long day and then some the next day. I was OK with it. And things went well until sleep and food deprivation crept up, the heat soared, and traffic picked up. I pushed myself too hard on Saturday. I was cracking. I was ready to throw myself in front of a car. I took 15 minutes to stop and find enough reason and strength to make a best decision. Someone had told me a hotel existed ın Subasi. I recovered my solace and went for it. I walked 60KM that day and got to that hotel dead tired. Catalca was to be my destination the next morning. That was a border to Istanbul according to the map (A lot of Turks said the border was here or there, it was never entirely clear until I saw that map).

Ten km was all I walked the next morning to Catalca. It was very UNceremonious. And I felt virtually no triumph. In fact, I tried to block out the reality of finishing because when I thought about it it was too much to comprehend. I got a bus and in no time I was whisked to a very urban environment which got more and more urbanized with each passing mile. I had NO IDEA where I was going so I got off at a place I thought might be close to the city center but not terribly far away. HA! I picked so far away....this city is massive. But I didn't care either. I found a hotel and was ready to collapse. I needed food and sleep; my body wanted me to make good on my promises. So I delivered. I got food, then went to my room, turned on the AC and slept much of the day and then all night. I have rested more today too but I did go to a nearby mall and have never been more happy to shop for new clothes in my life.

I have eaten a lot today. Tomorrow I venture into the old part of the city where a new hotel awaits me. A tour guide I met at the Albanıan border will pıck me up and take me there. And there I will continue to eat and rest and explore Istanbul. I will be ready to start this tomorrow. Slowly.

I leave Turkey on August 9th. My friend Rachel helped facilitate my return ticket. Little did she realize that I now leave to fly back to the US exactly 5 months to the day I left SF in March. And then I start to readjust to being back in the States. It's bizarre but already my walk seems so very far away. How can that be? Maybe I just need to remove myself from it for awhile. And in time let it all sink in.

Some of you may ask, "well Stevyn, have you gotten it out of your system?" To that I say, the "IT" you refer to IS a part of my system. It's as vital as my heart. But one thing I told myself throughout this journey was, if I finish safely then everything else in life will be considered a bonus. I still plan on having more excellent adventures but if they don't work out, for whatever reason, I will always have the string of 120 long, epic, adventurous days of 2013 to reflect upon. This has been one grand journey.

I regret not having pictures posted on this blog. Rest assured I have taken between 5-6,000 photos and there are some very precious ones. I plan to make a slideshow with select pictures which I expect will take me months to finish. But if you are interested in receiving the link to it when I'm done then drop me a note at: happywandererineurope@gmail.com and SLİDESHOW in the heading.

I also really want to thank those of you who took the time to send me notes or post on my blog. I have been negligent ın responding back but your words of support and care really have meant very much to me.

This blog will remain active for awhile. For those interested, I will post some post-reflectıons during the upcomıng weeks. I invite you to read how the after-effects transpire.

Four months seems like a short amount of tıme. But try walking it sometime. I guarantee your idea of time will expand.

On a final note: I bought a tee shirt at the mall that reads, NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST. It's true. I'm in Istanbul.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Here I Come Constantinople

OMG, I cannot believe how close I am. I left Bulgaria this morning by the skin of my teeth. I simply do not get the whole European Union (which Greece and Bulgaria are members of) and something called Schengen which Greece is not part of. But border patrtol was not going to allow me passage into Greece (I am in the very tiptoe of the country) because it was not an official border for folks from Australia, USA...basically, non Europeans. I waited over an hour. I was told 7 times I could not cross. I asked what I could do since I was on foot (and they knew it).  My prospects were grim. Eventually, the female border patrol who saw my tear-welled eyes came to the rescue and made phone calls and a fax and, well, she told me I could NEVER cross here again. Believe me, I will not! AND THEY LET ME GO INSIDE WITHOUT A STAMP.

I am going to keep this a bit shorter again though there is much to write. Macedonia really came through after my last blog from there. The people were very friendly from Prilip onwards. I had an overnight stay offer in Karvadarci. I was hugged by a man from Strumica in a grocery store to congratulate me and wish me well. But poor Macedonia is living in the stone age. When it was part of Yugolslavia it was the center of agriculture. It still is poor rural farmers, all with donkey pulled wooden carts. I came into Kavadarci after descending a mountain for 6 HOURS!!!! All down. But I really found a soft spot for the country. My last encounter before crossing the border was from a farmer picking watermelons in his field. He called me over to give me a huge melon but I refused because it weighed too much. Nonsense, he would not have it. He threw it on the ground, busted it open, and had me eat the fruit pieces.
I was glad to exit Macedonia though because the vehicles are in bad shape with things rattling off the sides, tires looking about to fall apart, things  not bolted down. At one point a sheet of tin metal flew off a car roof and missed me by about 15 feet. That could've hurt sever-ly!

Bulgaria had not been so friendly. Folks were not smiling, were non-inquisitive, shifty-eyed, hardly a beep or honk. It was fine, I needed the break. And don't let the EU status fool you; once you leave Bulgarias spiffy principle roads with their nice signs and shiney guardrails you're back to being in the non-EU Macedonia. I thought Bulgaria would be different but when I saw the dead horse next to the wooden cart having just been electrocuted from an open wire,  I started to get suspect. And then it was all too apparent. Bulgaria is as run down and 3W as where I'd come from. The EU disguise. I have gone from Petrich to Goce Delchiv, Dospat, Shiroka Laka (pronounced Sure-Rocka-Locka), Smoljan, Kardzjalia, Momchildgrad, Krumovgrad and last night, Ivaylovgrad. It has all been mountains up and down. And I have done 30 miles or more each day. Yes, I have overextended myself but it is what I need to do now. There are many reasons but one reason is I did not feel very safe sleeping out at night because there are people everywhere in the woods and nooks and crannies. One night I thought I was perfectly hidden but a big boot walked by my tent just before dark. There have been gypsy hagglers and gypsy squat camps in the hills and they are not friendly people, only wanting money, cigarettes, etc, At one point I was being surrounded by children asking, asking, asking for things so I pulled out my whistle and blew it, startling them. They then left me. I saw these babooshka clad, long coat phantom hags with their backs turned to me in the middle of nowhere mountains. I kept imagining that if I turned them around I'd find a face with glowing red eyes and a blood-soaked dagger under their garments. OK, maybe too many horror movies. Regardless, I pushed myself to the next village or town with a hotel for a good night sleep. And with prices around 6-15 bux a night, they were treats well deserved.

I have taken three rides in Bulgaria. Let me explain. One was on a very bad day, my worst maybe of the whole trip. I was getting sick and strung out. I was climbing a mountain that went on and on forever. I got up high and it got cold. Then some rain. I simply could not be cold and wet. A person offered a ride and I took it (about 5 KM) til I was out of the rainshadow/cloud. It was what I had to do at that moment. To save myself.
At another time a suspicious car with two young guys kept driving by me slowly, looking at me, pulling off ahead, waiting for me to pass and then doing it again. I had a bad feeling. Then another car pulled up. It was a woman I had said 'hello' to earlier while taking a photo. Her english was so-so. She offered a ride 3 KM to the next village. I said NO. Then, she looked ahead to the car pulled off, then looked at me and said, "you should come". I understood. I've wanted no trouble and afterwards I never saw that car again.
The last ride came yesterday. I told myself if I was offered a ride by one of these I would not pass it up. It was a horse drawn wooden cart in the mountains by a barefoot handsome young farmer and his 3 year old son. We probably went a mile...I could have gone all day. So peaceful and slow. Life slowly unfolding without the hustle bustle and chaos of life in a city, in the modern world.
Yesterday was a 35 mile day in the mountains with no food, nothing, and little water. I just walked. The gnats were unbearable. Do you know how much fun it is to walk 35 miles waving a leafy twig in front of your face to swish the swarm of bugs away? Not!

I am in Greece and on my way to cross the border at Edirne, Turkey. I think I am supposed to be out today (part of my border deal). Then I go north onto yellow roads to slide into Istanbul! My body has asked a favor of me (usually I ask my body for favors like, can we go an extra 10KM?). It wanted to know if we could continue full steam ahead and even finish this walk BEFORE July 31st? What can I say, my body has been so good to me. But the truth is I am oversaturated at this point. My cup is full of experience and I cannot take any more. My whole essence of being craves nothing more right now than silence and stillness. I know Istanbul is not the place for that but a nice hotel room will be and I can spend as much time there as I need.

Again, a huge thank you to everyone who have sent emails or posted comments on this blog. They have meant so much to me, esp during the rougher times.

Well, I am in the final stretch now. I am super motivated. Here I come Constantinople!!!!