I had successfully left the Pakistan-Persia border behind me, now was the moment to tackle the border between Persia and Turkey. I vividly remembered the warning by the Afghan Goverment 15 months ago at the Islam Quala:
YOU BETTER THROW ALL YOUR HASHISH AWAY!
Now I carried a relatively small amount and was crossing the most dangerous borders, which made me feel uneasy. Many images went through my head. At the end of a long dark tunnel I had a vision of a figure of light, it was my Demonfright, clad in rainbow colours.
Demonfright, clad in rainbow colours
Digital image by Mimulux
I took his appearance as a good omen and all my fears evaporated. Savouring the desert's scent I was travelling along on this seemingly
endless road, through miles of a barren and monotonous landscape, until
finally I fell asleep. A Persian customs officer woke me and asked for my passport. He waved me on as did shortly afterwards his Turkish colleague.They were occupied with my kurdish co-travellers. Apparently there was some big style weapon and drug smuggling going on.
What a relief! We passed Mount Ararat, where supposedly Noah's Arc got stranded. Where will my river of travels wash me up, where will I get stranded ? I remembered Giuliano and Anna from Rome. In Dehli's tourist camp they had passed on their address to me, just in case my uncertain travels would lead me there. I had been to Italy on a short visit on my first journey to Asia in 1974. With our Opel Blitz car we made a detour via Florence to try to replenish our travel funds. We parked our car on a favourite tourist spot, the Piazzale Michelangelo. This place offers a marvellous view over the city, and here we created jewelry, earrings and necklaces, from glass beads and brass wire. In a store for fishing equipment I found blinkers and bought a few. I integrated this artificial bait into the necklaces and my first jewelry turned into a bestseller. One such necklace I sold to a beautiful woman from Denmark. Her name was Edda and we both felt attracted to one another. We made love in the gardens beneath the Piazza and went on a discovery trip into town afterwards. On the Piazza del Duomo we found half-eaten watermelons which refreshed us. Sadly, she was on her way to join a Kibbutz in Israel and I was on the way to India. Neither of us wanted to change their destination and our paths separated again quickly. She was often in my mind. After these sweet memories I decided to continue to Rome.
In Istanbul I went to the crowded Pudding Shop and joined a group of Americans. They looked familiar!
Photo from the archive of the Pudding Shop - Lale Restaurant
“Aren't you Chris?”
“Yep! Now I remember you.”
1970 they drove from Ibiza to Rotterdam in their VW Bus and I travelled along with them. We were on our way to the legendary Holland Pop Festival, also known as “Stamping Ground”. Three days of love and peace in a park, by a lake in Kralingen, Europe's answer to Woodstock. In size the festival was smaller than its American counterpart but the quality of the groups that appeared, was by far better, to mention just a few: It's a Beautiful Day, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Canned Heat, Byrds, Family, Caravan, Softmachine and Pink Floyd. The festival was much better organized than Woodstock and there were only very few disturbances. I was especially looking forward to Softmachine, and of course Pink Floyd. Dealers were all over the area carrying their scales with them and the prices for dope were publicly announced over loudspeakers. Pink Floyd ordered acid for their appearance and the numerous secret police agents didn't interfere. There was no reason for disturbing this peaceful congregation. My American friends sold high quality LSD and on the front of their bus was a noticeboard saying “We sell Acid.”
During those three days I had three “servings” of acid dribbled on to blotting paper. On my trips I missed some of the happenings on stage, but I enjoyed many small, spontaneous sessions. The whole thing was more about the peaceful togetherness, the famous groups came second, were less important. Softmachine was my highlight, but I missed Pink Floyd. My excessive LSD consumption took its toll and I fell asleep.
Accompanied by my American friends I walked across the Sultan Ahmet Park and sold half of my treasure for a very good price. The remainder I saved for Italy. They were happy and so was I.
We wallowed in memories about the legendary festival. They had sold all trips and afterwards managed to sell the bus at its Spanish buying price, and then returned to the USA. Now they were on the route which later would be called “Hippie trail”. This time they travelled with a bus belonging to the Magic Bus Agency. We did not realize then that soon this route would be history, as only 7 months later in April of 1978 there was a coup d'état by pro-soviet officers in Afghanistan, and after this it was next to impossible to visit this beautiful country, with its Buddhas in Bamiyan, the multi-coloured lakes of Band-e-amir and the famous Chicken-Street in Kabul. And almost simultanously the Islamic Revolution started in Persia and in December of 1979 the Soviets marched into Afghanistan. And they too were amongst the last who could take this journey. We all became part of a legend, on the cross country road to the lauded lands. And I sweetened their long journey to Afghanistan, the country of origin of my exquisite dope. I am sure some of their co-travellers were pleased by this too. I made suggestions which places they ought to visit, far from the well trodden path. Afghanistan, beyond Herat and Kabul. Not only Anjuna but also Arambol. I highly recommended an excursion to Hampi, to see its bizarre landscape. Here I had encountered the most strange experiences of my entire journey. Not only Kathmandu, but also Pokhara with its majestic mountain tops which on a clear day were mirrored by Lake Phewa.
“Beware of false friends, watch out for any attempts at fraud and enjoy and honour the hospitality of true friends. If you are honest and open you will be received with open arms. I wish you a successful journey into expanding your consciousness.“
“Thanks for your advices Chris! Perhaps our roads will cross again. We wish you a successful ending to your escape”.
At the bazaar I purchased a new knapsack and some western clothes. Thus only my passport revealed my travels. Now I was well equipped for the next stage which would take me, via Athens and Brindisi to Rome. I expected my Italian friends to be very pleased about this extraordinary dope. It would be a good “introduction” as I was in possession of something very rare, something that could not be easily found and bought.
I walked down the hill to the Golden Horn. The old, two storey Galata bridge was built onto pontoons. Below the roadway there was a kind of large footbridge with small restaurants and tearooms.
There I smoked a water-pipe and bade a melancholy farewell to Asia. This journey had changed my life and this experience I assumed I shared with many. Most travellers returned to their homes with a new outlook on life. But some were in the same or a similar situation as I was in: we could not return to our homes, as big problems awaited us there!
The bridge seemed to sway thus reflecting my worries. Will my luck hold? So far all had gone well. Suddenly my guardian re-appeared, my travel companion who was with me when I whirled down the Khyber Pass, during the Monsoon in Arambol, in Hampi's Temples, he was with me in Kathmandu, in the desert of Baluchistan and before I crossed the border to Persia.
Video by Chris, Tabaiba, Dravidian, Ruff, Fu,
Lichtfaktor aka Sehvermögen and Peter
Now he presented me with a farewell gift, a dagger which would defend me from demons. Equipped with this I was certain that I would master my return to the Occident.
Fortified and reassured by this encounter I bought a ticket via Thessaloniki to Athens. Once more I went to the Pudding Shop and enjoyed the company and the feeling of companionship amongst the travellers. Looked into the shiny eyes of those returning and into the faces filled with wonder and excitement of those freaks embarking on their journey to the East.