27.05.2007 - 01.06.2007 30 °C
It wasn’t till the guy with no fingers started carrying clear plastic rubbish sacks full of bloody sheep’s heads with eyes bulging that I thought I might have chosen the wrong diner for a quick feed before I got on my over night Ferry.
I had the feeling of condemnation as the cook went out and helped carry more of these bags from the boot of the car parked outside in the 30 degree heat. Then all I could do is laugh as the burly Greek owner pulled one of the heads out of the bag and made some sort of eating gesture to his fingerless colleague while allowing a pool of blood to form in the middle of the diner floor which, of course, was mopped up with immediate effect from the staff and customers alike, walking it around.
Hoping for the best, I high tailed it to my boat, comforted in the fact İ had a few magic potions in my first aid kit incase of such eventualities, and sat on the deck, itching some rather large welts from whatever parasite I had been sharing my bed with, while admiring my new Pakistan visa, giggling.
Besides looking at some old columns, my main reason for even stepping foot in Athens was to buy myself some travel insurance in the form of visa for Pakistan and in turn, away out of Iran.
Dressing appropriately and after walking around some random suburb of Athens for an hour I entered the Pakistan Embassy which consisted of a 4 by 6m room and about 50 Pakistan nationals filling out forms at one end, fighting their way to the glass booth at the other end, then waiting for their name to be called out and repeating the process. After fighting my way to the front I acquired the required forms and despite some harsh stares from those around me, filled them out stifling a laugh at the redundant number dispenser on the wall with the sign 'Please wait for your number to be called.'
Returning the forms to my new mate I was asked to come inside to be asked a few questions. ''For your own safety Sir'' the guy said in perfect Queen's English.
After a verbal examination, including reference to my sanity and lack of preparation, I had to dance around the fact of not having a visa for India ....and why didn’t İ do all this at home. Eventually after talking about the beauty of Pakistan and the future of the cricket team I was told to come back tomorrow with an address of someone that lived in the country.
Bright and early I turned up to drop of the address and crack on with some sight seeing in my usual uniform of shorts, tee shirt and jandals, see photo below. However the five minutes turned into 3 hours as I sat there getting death stares, wishing my shorts would grow into trousers and my jandals into shoes. Finally a friendly face appeared at the window beckoning me to come around to the door and once again to enter the embassy proper.
Already a little apprehensive all I could do was giggle when he told me that the Ambassador wanted to meet me before he issued the visa and welcomed me inside with a bowing hand and only a cursory glace at my attire.
You know that dream when you go to school naked? Well that’s basically what this was as İ sat before this immaculately dress man thumbing through my visa application and passport.
'Are you David James Robert Kidd?' he asked in that perfect English looking at me through spectacles perched on the end of his nose.
'Yes' İ replied feeling like I was 16, and in the principal's office with that big dumb grin on my face.
A few more identification questions and again with itinerary for my own safety etc etc.
Then, 'David, what is the purpose of your visit to Pakistan?'
'Well you see sir, my government has sent me to act as a spy!' ( Now I know I shouldn't say crap like this but I was over come in the moment.)
'Yes, that’s right; we want to know why you are so good at cricket because quite frankly we are tired of losing!' İ said before cracking a big smile and holding my breath gauging the reaction of the two officials.
After a shocked stare, a little chuckle emitted from the ambassador’s mouth and the other man followed suit. I then went on to explain the true purpose of the trip, followed by some small talk about our two countries and İ walked out Visa in hand. I waited till I was on the street in front of the armed guards of course to yell out 'He Scores!' and do a little victory dance. I could see them weighing up whether to arrest me or shoot me on the spot and high tailed it to the metro.
I had just finished taking a few photos of the sun set from the Stern of the ferry when I went from wondering if I was going to be sick, to running to the toilets, collecting all my worldly possessions in a fluid motion knowing dam well that I was going to be. As I reached the sanctuary of the toilet door I was shocked to find them locked. Well nothing for it but a very impressive (if I do say so myself) projectile vomit over the side resulted. Who would have thought seagulls enjoyed kebab?
No worries I thought as I sorted myself out in my own private corner of the deck, I have all sorts of stuff in my bag, only to open my first aid kit and to find I had left half of the contents, including my anti nausea tablets, on the top bunk in a back packers in Spain. CRAP! The result, I was curled up for 8 hours on the damp toilet floor below deck feeling extremely sorry for myself and providing some mild entertainment for the rest of the passengers as I made a pilgrimage, every 10 minutes, to hug the porcelain like a long lost friend.
Now only I can ask for a ticket and have the name repeated to me, pay perfectly good money for the ticket, get on a boat and be surprised when I get off at 4am that I am on the wrong Greek Island, one 300km North of where I wanted to be and feeling like death warmed up. I was faced with another ferry journey and 6 hours of buses to get to where I want to be. Now don’t any of you start up with that "it’s not the destination it’s the journey" verbal diarrhoea! That is only said by glue sniffing hippies who have been stuck in places like Goa or Nimbin for the past decade and are too stoned to go home. If Choıs had an airport I am pretty sure I would have been on the next flight home.
Sitting on the dock in the dark, Ipod on, feeling like I had cracked every one of my ribs I started to come right. As the sun rose I could make out the out line of some hills in the distance..... Asia! there it was one month late but within reach.
The first thing to reach my ears as I stepped onto Otogar was an "Alright Mate" in a thick cockney accent. I couldn't believe my eyes as I walked through the resort town of Bodrum, I thought I may have been done again by get on the wrong boat and ending up in the UK. The prices on the menus were quoted in pounds sterling, the streets were full of bright red people walking around in swim suits and the pubs full of men covered in tattoos, knocking back pints, talking football and abusing the power of the pound in their so called paradise and then happily stumbling out to the hired scooters and riding home legless.
22 hours after leaving Athens I downed my first proper meal of a donor kebab..... I know, slow learner, you might say but that was the only thing that was in my price range. I crashed on my mattress on the roof of my hostel, again the only place catering to my budget. I was woken up at 04:45 by the Turkey that I remember, as the call to prayer screamed at top volume from the minarets of the mosque next door.