educational note: Igoumenitsa is a port town in North-Western Greece. It takes you to Italy.



We spend our evening eating and drinking in the border town of Igoumenitsa. The streets are lined with chain stores, the lights still on and the windows still shining although they are all closed. Holiday clothes scream to be owned, and my stumbling Greek informs me that Vodafone have abolished roaming charges this summer. We find an average looking restaurant and ask for menus. The Italian influence is obvious, and we settle down for a delicious meal of mozzarella salads made from ingredients that must have just come from over the border. Two hours later we glide back to the car and head to the port.

We are welcomed by incorrupt border guards and a massive expanse of tarmac signifying the end of a country and the start of a queue. We drive towards it, stopping behind a car with an Italian registration and next to a Welsh campervan. There’s a fair mixture of nationalities; Italians, Greeks, Turks, Brits. The people are tired and depressed and rarely talk to each other. Behind us is a large concrete bunker, inside which these people gather. The lights are always on, and although the air is warm there’s coldness stored inside the walls which makes you shiver as you walk through the large glass doors. The food is overpriced and undercooked and the cigarettes are foul. The toilets are reminiscent of Indian train stations 30 years ago, or so my father tells me. An electronic sign on the outside wall lists departure times for ferries, and is dated three days before. The boats are always late.

Outside, people are lying on the ground in front of their vehicles trying to get some rest. It’s ten o’clock of a pleasantly warm evening. The sun has just set, and the last blushes of light are spreading out across the sky.

The concrete is beautifully cold, so I take off my shoes and settle down at the edge of the port. The clouds are drifting downwards and an orange crush coloured light is spreading over the water, contrasting against the blackness and collecting around the sides of boats as though protecting them from powers below. Behind me voices moan in tones I do not know; the drone of night time radio picked up skilfully by Iranian lorries, from some country in front of me. Siirt blankets lie between backs and the hard grey ground, as eyes move around in heads filled with dreaming. Ringed fingers clasp themselves loosely around red and white threads, worn away by the endless grasp of these same calloused hands. Hammocks are hung between cars, holding cold bodies filled with the warmth of sleep.

A silhouette appears on the horizon. Whistles sound. The people wake and engines splutter and stumble until they settle at a lively hum. The Italians come; emerging in their hundreds from the back of the queue to create traffic jams blocking the entrance to the boat, which floats towards us as though it were a whale waiting for plankton to rush into its mouth. Electronic horns boom across the port and a battle begins, every beast for themselves pushing towards the gasoline smell of the car deck. Our car becomes a blue blur, once again at the back of the queue. We head on board.


The eating area is already filled with pillows and blankets, and walking down the outside deck involves stumbling over bodies and banging into hammocks. We retire to our cabin to sleep under other people’s sheets as the mechanics of the machine start to grind and we move towards Italy. I can see the moon through the porthole, its gold aglow over the whole of the sky. Comets crush the blackness behind the clouds, but we can’t see them from here. My sleep is clouded by the clarity of tears.
There's only one thing we can do to thwart the plot of these albino shape-shifting lizard BITCHES!
Last edited by DigUpHerBones at Sep 27, 2009,
"The sun is has just set, and the last blushes of light are spreading out across the sky."

The sun has just set?

"We retire to our cabin to sleep under other people’s sheets as the mechanics of the machine start to grind and we move towards Italy"

not a huge fan of "the mechanics of the machine". just a bit uncomfortable to read.

This was invigorating, as is the whole series. You've created a journey, and taken us a long with you. These are definitely the most mature and focused pieces you've written.
This set of pieces has definitely contained some of your best moments as a writer so far. They hold tone and attention much better than most of your other stuff and really take the reader with you instead of depending on the reader to find a connection point and then walk wiht you. It shows a maturation in writing that is very impressive.

I had no problem reading this; it really pulled me down the page which was good. By the end though, I couldn't tell if I enjoyed it or not. It left a very strange feeling inside me which I honestly can't explain. Kyle caught the typos and the mechanics line, whichwere some of my personal qualms as well. I guess I just didn't feel like this delivered as much by the end as I had expected it to with how it built throughout. I didn't dislike it and I certainly enjoyed the ride you gave me. I just don't know if I feel like I got my money's worth in it.

I dunno; hard to explain, love.
"The streets are lined"... isn't that from a Neil Young song?

This comprised of some really great lines/ideas, which I felt this series needed. So far, they all paint a picture that's either pretty, or ugly, without using anything wordy or clever. It's like the writings are stuck in this helm of gorgeousness, and it's becoming irritating being a part of it.
Okay, yeah it's descriptive, heartfelt and poetic, but every piece so far hasn't contained a real twist of tongue or idea. This one being more of an exception.

It's maybe not a “bad” thing—because the pieces are really nice—but I just feel they need something more than a description.
I'll probably add a couple of pieces to this, in parts in the middle, which may tie things together and I guess hopefully make it feel like your 'money's worth'.

If this piece is "more of an exception" does it ground the others in this rather than 'irritating gorgeousness'? I don't entirely see how every piece of this series is 'just description', either. I'd really like some elaboration on that. And how Romania in Sepia or Sibiu or Koroni is nice.
There's only one thing we can do to thwart the plot of these albino shape-shifting lizard BITCHES!