#crowdlitbus diary: Eirikur Orn Norddahl

Icelandic #crowdlitbus author Eirikur Orn Norddahl (you can read his One is a CROWD interview here) writes a letter back home from the road. If Zeynep was more on the conteplative side, Eirikur offers more descriptions for sure! As we close in to Friday and the closing event of our epic tour, let us reminisce a bit and slow down the flow of time. Look forwards in the next days for short and insightful journal entires, essays and thoughts by our #crowdlitbus authors on their journey from Istanbul to Athens!


This is where today ended, I turned on the air conditioning. That is how most of these days end. Before that there was a little Famous Grouse in cold water from the minibar (that is to say, the water was from the minibar, I brought the whisky from Turkey). I don’t think the grouse is actually a waterbird (no more than the turkey) but it doesn’t seem to mind, and I am glad for it.

The last hour of today – perhaps even a little longer – was spent debating the pros and cons of going to bed early, as opposed to staying up late drinking and talking (which is what we’ve been doing so far). Jörg claimed that seeing as he’s already over 40 he’s allowed to be tired, which I guess means that those of us under 40 should still be out and about. But we’re not. Had we not debated we could all have gone to bed an hour earlier. Or inebriated ourselves for an extra sixty minutes. Debating seems like such a waste, sometimes, when compared to deciding. But I guess people like it. And it seems very place appropriate (is the correct term perhaps “site specific”?), this being Greece and all.

I grow more sure every day that the Greek intend to eat us before we leave (i.e. there will be no actual leaving). We are continually stuffed – like french geese – with cheeses and olives and deep fried zucchini balls and salad and bread and tomatoes and more cheese and more olives and when we think it’s all over, that is when they bring in large plates of irresistible meat and seafood. Afterwards there’s fruit and sweets and during all meals we are marinated in beer, ouzo and retsina. I feel like a prize winning pig.

But the Greeks are lovely, of course, and they are almost as fond as Icelanders of hearing other people explain how lovely they are. And one should beware of speaking to fondly about their neighbors (again, they are like Icelanders). Tonight we were told off for calling Turkish Coffee turkish as it’s evidently Cypriot, and has been at least since the Turks invaded Cyprus in 1974. Or so they claim. Coffee, however, comes from Yemen – we googled it at the dinner table. I have a feeling that the people in the region have many unresolved issues, but that may not come as a surprise.

Before being stuffed with food for dinner (but after being stuffed with food for lunch) we organized a private literary salon at the hotel. Pauliina said something interesting about nature – in poetry, or in her poetry – not being a substitute or symbol for anything else, but having its own subjectivity. I may be paraphrasing or misremembering but this is how I heard it and it stuck with me, because it made sense. Jörg showed us what will eventually be his first book – it is strange to think that he has not published book (he’s been present and working in poetry for so long, I mean he’s over 40 (!!!), but primarily in sound poetry). Angela showed us her next book – if I understood correctly she’d just printed it out for the first time (but stuff keeps getting lost in translation). Martin read a text about question marks and told us that he in fact means to eventually take all the question marks out of it. Zeynep read – no she didn’t, I actually read for her – a poem which came with an anecdote about the time she wanted to enter an orthodox church. I also read for Lily – a poem about the crisis and how it isn’t the world (while it still seems to dictate the world). Tomorrow I will probably read my own crisis poem. The Icelandic financial crisis does seem like a joke though, compared to what’s been happening here.

Anyhow, we were all very happy about our improvised literary salon. Our other readings have been so short – 3-4 minutes – and most of us are just reading the same poem over and over (the one that they’ve translated). This was needed.

Both my ass-cheeks feel sore from sitting on the bus for too long. Or maybe the seats are just too hard – and my knees don’t fit between the rows. Today we drove from Kavala, which isn’t all that long in fact, and on the way we stopped to visit an archeological museum. I remember thinking that the artifacts were surprisingly unguarded – often there wasn’t even glass separating us from stuff that seemed to be over a thousand years old. But then this country probably has more ancient objects – statues and tablets – than it knows what to do with. Maybe they’d just be happy if somebody stumbled and fell in the museum and broke some of it. It would make the rest easier to handle. I was told that in Thessaloniki they’re trying to build a metro but there’s so much ancient stuff in the ground that they’re more or less stuck digging the tunnels with a few tiny archeology trowels and some equally tiny brushes. By the time they’ll finish most of contemporary Thessaloniki will be ruins. But the Greeks are in no hurry. Halara, they say, relax.

Then there was the beach. And by “then” I mean “before”. Straight after breakfast we walked (ever so slightly hungover) to the beach in Kavala and had a swim. I took a photo of the hat (don’t tell Aram) – in the background you see Martin, Jörg and Pauliina. I thought to myself (it’s not true that I just thought it to myself, I actually said it aloud to Jörg, who protested) that I couldn’t understand why everybody didn’t live in Kavala. Given the choice, I mean, why would anyone live anywhere else? But I guess people generally don’t have all that much choice. If you and I were to live in Kavala maybe we could go to the beach in the mornings. Have some coffee on the way and do some gentle yoga in the sun. This, at least, was how today started.

Kiss A&A from me. If the Greeks don’t eat me – or kill me with delicacies – I will see you … on Monday? Tuesday?


Eirikur Orn Norddahl,
CROWD OMNIBUS traveler week 10
On Friday, 08 July 2016

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