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Matilda Kivelä

I'm an explorer and writer currently represented by Agency Leroy.

Travel diaries: sharp white cliffs and the Aegean Coast

Travel diaries: sharp white cliffs and the Aegean Coast

 M, his motorbike that was running out of fuel and the sun over Greek islands.

M, his motorbike that was running out of fuel and the sun over Greek islands.

I guess it's a typical travel story with the mandatory details in their right places: salty hair, watching the sea burst into a million pieces against sharp white rocks, peach juice dripping down skinny wrists, a vast and forgiving night sky, beaches that are never quite wild enough.

But it's also the story of how I saw myself in a sober, sharp and honest light for the first time in years. Suddenly, I recognised myself in the wide-eyed, sun-kissed reflection that was staring back at me from the dirty mirror of a farmhouse somewhere in rural Turkey. And for a few weeks, I let it all happen to me. 

I said yes to an invite to ride up the coastline towards Greece. I held on tight when we sped past polluted lakes and fragrant pine forests. I ate ripe fruit and baklava that made my hands sticky and my head dizzy. I dove into the crystal-clear waters of an ancient cave and swam in the sea every day.

And after the accident on a dusty road somewhere on the Turkish countryside, I had to learn how to deal with not being able to deal with everything. I had to be helped into my sundress and out of it. I felt terrible but loved. The days were endless and only began in the afternoon when the sun weakened and the sparrows came out. On most, the boys played round after round of backgammon and smoked cigarettes in the garden as I nursed my snapped collarbone and dreamt of Agios Kirykos. In the evenings, we would walk far enough to find a small restaurant to try, play cards, have an occasional glass of Raki with an overly enthusiastic restaurateur and replay the best and worst moments of our day. At night, we would fall asleep to the steady hum of a cheap, rickety fan. 

On my last day, we took a ferry across the bay and headed to a beach town we'd never heard of. We climbed over sharp white rocks to find a secret bay where I swam in the crystal-clear water in my red dress, seashells and sand in my hair. Later, the dress became our shield from the sun as M lifted it up high over our heads, the wind catching it like it a sail.

The waves were gentle and Greece was so close I felt like I could've swam there if I just tried hard enough. 

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