Thursday, June 26, 2008

Passport arrives! Butterfly Valley awaits!

Today at about 20 minutes before 13:00, while I was logging on to the DHL website to check the status of my passport (I was concerned because of the strange report I had received earlier, see previous post) and was preparing to ring up the central office, I spotted a motor-scooter stop in front of the hotel (The lobby here opens up to the streetfront patio; the street itself is narrow, tree-lined and relatively quiet - daytime, anyway). The guy had on a two-tone shirt that brought to mind the DHL colors. But the container on the back of the scooter was clearly insulated. So he must be a food delivery guy, I resigned myself to think. But lo and behold, he pulled out a large envelope from the container and brought it up to the desk. It was marked clearly with "DHL." I intercepted him, told him my name, signed and tore it open. And there it was! My freedom had arrived!! Now to board the hydrofoil at 16:30 and head off to join my kin . . .

On the Rhodes to Turkey

I sit and wait. DHL displays the following report concerning the travel status of my passport:

Detailed Report

Date Time Location Service Area Checkpoint Details

June 23, 2008 15:36 Budapest - Hungary Shipment picked up

June 23, 2008 18:37 Budapest - Hungary Departing origin

June 23, 2008 19:12 Budapest - Hungary Departed from DHL facility in Budapest - Hungary

June 23, 2008 20:51 Budapest - Hungary Shipment on hold

June 24, 2008 20:27 Budapest - Hungary Transferred through Budapest - Hungary

June 24, 2008 20:27 Budapest - Hungary Departed from DHL facility in Budapest - Hungary

June 25, 2008 01:46 Bergamo - Italy Transferred through Bergamo - Italy

June 25, 2008 01:47 Bergamo - Italy Departed from DHL facility in Bergamo - Italy

June 25, 2008 04:29 Leipzig - Germany Transferred through Leipzig - Germany

June 25, 2008 04:29 Leipzig - Germany Departed from DHL facility in Leipzig - Germany

June 25, 2008 09:16 Athens - Greece Arrived at DHL facility in Athens - Greece

June 25, 2008 09:21 Athens - Greece Arrived at DHL Facility

June 25, 2008 15:52 Athens - Greece With delivery courier

June 26, 2008 09:00 Athens - Greece Arrived at DHL Facility

June 26, 2008 09:41 Athens - Greece With delivery courier

This is very puzzling. Yesterday, the package was with a delivery courier in Athens, Greece. Then today it is recorded as having arrived at a DHL facility, also in Athens. Now it's with a courier again. Does this mean it's still in Athens, or does Athens count for all of Greece, including Rhodes? I sure hope for the latter. One slight comfort is that while I was wandering about the island yesterday I passed a motor-scooter with a DHL sticker on it. So such exist. Please let one come here to the hotel today with my passport!

On another note, yesterday I bought drawing and writing tablets, sunscreen and got a haircut, all in accord with Lucia's wishes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stranded on Rhodes

If you read my last entry, you know that I was having some passport troubles, that my Irish passport expires on 10 July and I didn't bring my US one along (it expires 2010). I went to the Turkish consulate here but they told me I would need a validity extension of six months on my passport before they could issue a visa and there could be no other way. I discovered by ringing the UK consulate that there is an Irish vice-consul on the island. I met him but he sadly informed me that just a few years ago he could have helped but that the rules have changed and a new machine-readable passport would be the only answer, which could only be issued in Dublin and would take a minimum of 2 and 1/2 weeks!

So Lucia rang our landlord Laci who managed to find my US passport in the drawer where I left it and got down to DHL where he paid HUF 15,000 (USD 90) to ship it down here lickty-split. That was yesterday at 14:00. I checked the DHL website and entered my waybill number and found that my passport left the office but was "on-hold" in Budapest. I assume it's just waiting for a flight and its status will change tomorrow. The hotel manager here told me he thinks it will come by Friday. I sure as heck hope so. Meanwhile I've moved into a cheaper room, which is still reasonably nice. Lucia, Eldar and I ate another expensive restaurant meal today in the old town. Naturally, as soon as I saw them off on the ferry, I found cheaper places. But no need to gripe! They have arrived safely at Butterfly Valley after a speedy trip on a hydrofoil. Eldar must have loved it. I cannot wait to hear his account. I am sufficiently funded to hold out here a few days and - God willing - my passport will arrive and I will join my lovely family. In the meantime I can hang out here with the geriatrics on the beautiful Island of Rhodes. If I buy some sun cream tomorrow I could even go to the beach. In any event, there's enough space in my new room to practice Yoga, so I've got that to look forward to tomorrow morning.

Now I think I'll go out and buy a bottle of water, then retire to my room for some of those grape-leaf wrapped rice rolls and call it a day.

In this lonely hour, all comments are welcome!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Holding Pattern in Rhodes

Today finds me on the Island of Rhodes with my lovely wife tempestuous Lucia and old ants-in-the-pants 8-year-old Eldar. They're engaged in a heated chess match at the moment. But Rhodes is a nice place. Sunwashed, quiet. Lots of older folks about. Not exactly packed with people. Water still a bit on the cold side.

Early yesterday morning at the airport in Budapest, Eldar and I were comparing passport photos. I saw that mine was a rather old photo of me, albeit a good one. The age of the photo prompted me to look at the expiration date. To my horror, it expires on 10 July of this year, in the middle of our "working holiday" in Turkey. Fortunately there is a Turkish consulate here on Rhodes. So tomorrow we will plead our case with them to let me get an entry visa and perhaps a note that will let me exit the country with an expired passport. That's the best case scenario. They might issue me a short-term visa and tell me to go to Ankara to get a new passport once I'm in Turkey. A still less favorable scenario has me flying to Athens to go to the Irish Embassy there to get a new passport. That would seriously eat in to the Holiday budget. But it wouldn't kill us. I just sure as heck hope to avoid it.

Riding in by taxi to the hotel from the airport I noticed a number of disused windmills, from the centuries old to the decades old. Interesting that wind was tapped as a power source in the past but it appears to have been abandoned.

Let's assume that things will be fine with my passport and I'll get to Butterfly Valley with Lucia and Eldar in a few days. Once in the valley I'll meditate every morning as I've done for the most part every morning for the past four years. I'll also go for a swim after each meditation before breakfast. Each evening will begin with a Yoga class taught by Lucia. At some time during each day I'll teach seminars on various topics, including comparative religion. Maybe this could happen each evening at 19:30 when it's cooler.

I brought a number of books with me including Paul Johnson's excellent A History of the Jews, a copy of The Teaching of Buddha and a book on Islam by Alfred GUILLAUME, among others including the unannotated Penguin Bhagavad Gita. That's four major religions covered. I'm curious to witness the sort of discussions that come from this.

More soon . . .

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Six Days To Go . . .

Yes, it's six days to go until we leave for Turkey. Well, Greece actually. We fly out of Budapest early this Saturday morning bound for the Island of Rhodes. From there we will catch a hydrofoil to Fethiye. We will most likely have to spend the night in Fethiye because we will miss the last boat to Butterfly Valley. So we'll leave for the Valley on the morning of 22 June, Sunday.

Yesterday I spent the morning hours in Szentendre teaching a seminar and then met Lucia and Eldar for a stroll around the baroque-era Serbian village and along the riverfront. We wound up at the arts center built into a derelict industrial building, one of the few such buildings in this town of centuries-old architecture. Lucia had to leave at 16:30 to get back to Budapest for her Indian dance class. Eldar and I caught the 17:00 river ferry back, which was a lot of fun, particularly for Eldar. We sat inside for most of the trip, below decks up front behind the front window with head-on view of what was ahead of us. Much of the way back we were surrounded by thick green brush and trees; it felt a lot like the lower Mississippi. Once we approached the end of Szentendre Island (on our left) we cruised under the new bridge under construction. It was a massive think, with two independently supported lanes, like a pair of bridges side by side. It crossed the island to the left and was suspended in the distance by a pair of towering A-frames. On our side of the island, the bridge was held up by supports planted into the riverbed. There was lot of heavy machinery under the bridge with just a small opening through which our boat managed to motor its way through. When I looked off the right I saw the bridge curving off into the distance. Eldar was really impressed by the awesome assemblage of concrete and steel. "Poppy, this is like the future!" He said something like this. I confess to being pretty awed myself, albeit with some remorse for the suffering wild life and the impending current of traffic of this otherwise largely pristine area.

In the coming days I have to sort out what books I will be taking, try to find a way to set up wireless Internet in the valley, write two magazine articles and deliver an intelligence report, make two collections, write a trio of syllabi for the Fall semester, etc., etc.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Poor Slobs, Greedy Rich

It's been a while between posts. Sorry, I been busy.

I checked some URLs for availability and noticed that both and are not yet taken. and are however currently in use, perhaps for sale. is up for grabs, while is not. is not available, while is! and are both occupied, while is empty.

Nothing at is currently in use. and belong to no one. is an impossibly cool photography site. belongs to an Atlanta Realtor.