Abandoning Paradise



There was the best of all reasons for going to Greece: a woman. This wasn’t the Paradise part or perhaps I would still be there but, even so, the obvious question is why would anyone leave such a wonderful place as Greece.

Greece is where you can be on the beach in the morning and then three hours later be skiing in the mountains. It’s where you can be in a bar all evening and never get drunk because people are there with their families and no-one gets drunk. It’s where olives have spiritual powers and there are olive trees everywhere.

When a Greek calls you a friend it’s much more than trying to be popular on Facebook. It’s where you can feel safe just about anywhere you go. Cops in Pyrgos don’t even work between 14:00 and 14:30, there’s no need.

Greece also has one of the most impossible alphabets for its language of anywhere else on the planet unless we go back to pictographs. There’s also Greeklish which is an adaptation of Greek spelling to make a phonetic Ebonics version of the language. This was very clever as Greeklish is almost impossible to translate. Even though difficult, the language was part of the beauty of Greece. It doesn’t make the faintest bit of sense to an English speaker and this adds to the country’s mysticism.

The outcome of this adventure is something of an anticlimax as this wouldn’t be much of a book, at least not for me, if I had not survived but many things were revealed during the course of it and the journey is the subject much more than the result of it.

I considered putting markers through the book on where to include brief but vigorous sexual encounters for addition in the inevitable movie version of the book but decided against it. Hollywood can find a way to manage that part but I do insist on a German director as who else could adequately tell the story of the utter pointlessness of this two-wheeled exercise.

There were practical reasons for going to Edinburgh as I had to register for medical cover and it had been quite some time since I had taken that very seriously. My thinking was Scotland was the only place I would be able to find medical care as I had not been able to obtain it anywhere else. There was a serious medical reason behind the run and I knew it before I started.

In order of descending practicality, I was growing hungry to hear people speaking English as their primary language. Although learning the languages of other people is a delightful and sometimes frustrating challenge, I was eager to hear English again. Most mystical of all was the draw of the birthplace I had never seen and a family I had never known.

I was born in Edinburgh but my parents moved us away when I was a year old so I had never seen Scotland and my only view of England was that which one can see from within Heathrow Airport. That’s an interesting, highly-international view but it’s hardly what was filling stories my parents told or what was in the books I read as a child in Australia.

There were many reasons for going to Scotland and this book will tell the story of the hare-brained idea to ride a SYM VS 150 motor scooter, packed with an electric guitar and everything else I could load onto it, from Katakolon, Greece, to Edinburgh, Scotland, which is roughly three thousand kilometers. I don’t recommend you try it as the trip was ridiculously-dangerous, far more so than I had considered before embarking. I’m not averse to risks in my life but this one turned out to be total lunacy.

The story is somewhat pragmatic to start as it’s almost a how-to book on how to do crazy things. The story evolves as the realisation comes to me that it’s possible to do some things I had never dreamed I would ever really do. Maybe that’s the most important part of any journey, to bring about some change in yourself hopefully without the epiphany that everything that preceded in your life was a complete waste of time and you wish you had done this years ago.

You will see frequent mentions of Second Life and feel free to think of what I am doing as a second childhood even if I don’t think I ever got quite finished with the first one. A second childhood isn’t the same as Second Life as that’s an online computer world where I have been going for years to make music. In that world I’m a hot young stud rock god so perhaps you will consider that a second childhood too but I don’t think you will find any strong evidence that the Peter Pan phase of my life ever stopped.

The Second Life story is also very important as this is where I met Cat and where she runs Cat's Art MusikCircus. She was with me as much as possible throughout the journey and in large part the story was to tell her and show her what I was doing and seeing. In sharing it with her, I share it with you and so we can all go roaming around Europe.

If you’re inclined toward adventure, nothing I say will deter you so what I suggest if you do this is you use a motorcycle with enough power to get you through it. The SYM VS 150 has a top speed of about 100 kilometers per hour and typically I was driving it between seventy to eighty kilometers per hour. This presents a huge disparity between my speed and that of the vehicles on the Autostrada of Italy, the Autoroute of France, and the Motorways of the United Kingdom where most vehicles are running at about one hundred and thirty plus kilometers per hour.

One thing that’s very definite is that it’s vastly different doing this when you’re twenty versus doing it when you’re sixty. I didn’t do it when I was twenty so I can’t give you a perspective on that but what I can tell you is not to wait. Whatever it is, do it now. Don’t wait. The medical considerations turned out to be significant and I'm dealing with that now. Had I waited, there is no chance I would have been able to do it.

This foreword has turned out to be a good deal more serious than I had intended but so it goes. As to not waiting, anyone who has ridden motorcycles for any time at all can tell you what it means. Few things give you a more keen appreciation that your life can change drastically in a millisecond. Don’t wait.

If you take anything at all from this story, my hope is that you may be inspired to live your own adventures in whatever form they may take. There will be risk and you may get hurt but you will see things beyond anything you ever imagined. There was no plan to any of this adventure other than to get to Edinburgh. On the journey things would come in whatever way Fate would choose. What did come was extraordinary and this is the story of it. Thanks for your interest.

All of the kids in the family were challenged to read “The Wind in the Willows” to win our first watch from our parents. One of the best parts in the book is Mister Toad’s Wild Ride. Mister Toad had his wild ride and this is mine. I hope you enjoy it.

Alan Fraser

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