In this frank, self-confessional travel memoir, Estonian bestselling author Epp Petrone goes looking for lost faces and memories and along the way must deal with the baggage she left behind.
At twenty-four, the aspiring writer abandons her safe domestic life and high-paying career to follow an eccentric merchant around the world. On the road she finds a mix of exotic men, nomadic philosophers, wandering minstrels, kindred souls, unusual friendships, hard times, and lost children. All of it is captured in her precious journals – journals she leaves behind with an old Spanish sea captain who promises to wait for her.
A decade later she decides to go back to retrieve her memories, but in order to get them back, she first has to reckon with her past. The stories here weave into stories, they take readers around the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, across Russia to Central Asia and the Middle East, from asylums to jails, arms factories to aquariums, and open-air markets to apocalyptic battlefields where the secrets of survival are revealed.
- Paperback: 314 pages
- Publishing date: July 2010
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9949904374
- ISBN-13: 978-9949904372
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
Excerpts from the book
He’s drawn the two hemispheres on this piece of paper.
“So. Our trip would start…” – almost imperceptibly his “I” has become “we” and I’m so glad listening to him – “…see about here, in Spain. As I told you, my business is based on workshops and, well, good acquaintances in villages in different parts of the world, where the labor is cheap and the people are talented. India, Indonesia, the Philippines… And I’ve sold these things in expensive places like Japan and Korea. For the last two years, I was working on setting up the business in the US, more specifically in Hawaii, and I was doing really well there, until this bloody bike thing went down!”
“And now you want to test the European markets, in Spain?”
“Exactly. Since it’s just a test of the sales potential and local interest, I don’t exactly know where we’ll be doing this – it’s definitely going to be a tourist destination, because these places are full of people who want to spend money, and my jewellery is beautiful and unique, it sticks out among all the others! In any case, it’s pretty cheap to fly from Spain to Mexico.”
“Yes, we’ll need a visa to get there, but I’ve always gotten visas everywhere. I have my old passports too, I show them in the embassies and they understand that I’m not the guy to settle down somewhere, I’m someone who’s just going back and forth all the time.” Harri’s face dons a proud smile as he adds: “I can show you my passports later.”
“But how easy would it be for me to get visas?”
“Since you mentioned that there’s a house in Estonia in your name and since you’re married and you’ve had a steady job, then I’d say it would be really easy!”
“I don’t know anything about Mexico.”
“Well, I’ll be going to Mexico for the first time myself. I’ve gotten to know all the Asian cities and regions, and that’s quite a lot, but now it’s time for me to move on: my target for the next decade is to get to know South America.”
“By the way, I heard a rumor about you losing your kids in Siberia,” I suddenly mention, startling myself with the bluntness of the question. Harri shoots me a look.
“Telling that story takes a couple of days,” he says. “I’ll tell you someday, promise. It wasn’t my fault and they weren’t left there alone, but with their step mother. And it wasn’t Siberia, it was Tajikistan. I didn’t have money to come back and… Basically, it’s a long story.”
“Alright then, I’d love to hear that story.” The promise of a good story is something very tempting for me, even if he really did end up losing those kids. I ask on, “Where were we… what are we going to do in Mexico?”
“I’ve heard there are some very good and authentic craftsmen there and their work is not expensive. Our goal is to find them, sign contracts with them and buy their stuff cheap. Maybe in the future I’ll ask them to make something using my designs – we’ll see. You see, all decisions have to be made with intuition and rational thinking working together. Making decisions requires a certain meditative state, but there’s no point in forcing yourself into this state until you have the right context, meaning, until you have all the necessary facts.”
“That’s understandable,” I reply, feeling as I did the day before that this man has a few things to teach me.
“So. In any case, last night I was busy making my decisions and I understood how you could be useful to me. If you agree to what I’m offering.”
“The thing is, see, I have my goods in Hawaii and I can’t get there anymore, because my commercial visa to the US was revoked and I have a five year entry ban. So here’s my plan: you’d fly alone from Mexico to Hawaii and take care of things for me. I can draw all the maps for you and give you all the addresses of shops where I have things on sale. You’d go collect all the money that’s coming to me and also take all the things that haven’t been sold yet. For example, I have some really beautiful batik beach skirts, bikinis and hats. You’d send them to me using marine cargo to wherever I tell you – right now I don’t know where exactly this would be. Maybe to Spain? But maybe to Japan instead.”
“I don’t have a visa to the US.”
“You’ll get that for sure!”
“Allright, I can do that, all that is not that difficult,” I tell him, already imagining myself doing business in those shops. It’s all very interesting, refreshing, and besides that it’s useful for someone. For Harri.
“There’s one more thing,” he adds, nodding his head. “In addition to having goods on sale in different shops, I also have a small warehouse there.”
“Really? Well, I guess that’s where all the Estonians worked who lost their visas over that bike thing?”
“Precisely! When all my employees left there in a panic, they gave all the goods to Frank, a real estate agent who took care of the building. He’s a local guy there. I don’t have contact with him right now and it’s getting me worried. What’s going on there? He’s not picking up his phone. Has he put these things on sale somewhere? Could he maybe ship all those things to me.?”
I listen, sympathising. It seems that Harri’s special way of life gets him into strange situations. What could it feel like, owning a heap of goods on the other side of the world and trusting your fate to someone who, albeit, has a name like “Honest” Frank, but who won’t answer your calls after your visa is revoked?
“I don’t want to worry over nothing,” Harri continues calmly, almost intently focused, running his fingers through his beard. “It could all turn out just fine, but my alarm bells have gone off a bit. Just yesterday I still thought that Frank is my representative there and he could collect all my money for me, transfer it to me, even finish selling all the goods, or send them back to me. But when I couldn’t get a hold of him last night either, I started to suspect that he’s ignoring my phone calls and maybe he’s just planning to rip me off! I don’t really have anything at the moment to influence him with.”
“Just me, once I arrive?”
“Precisely! You’ll arrive there as my representative and sort things out with Frank.”
(continued in the book)
Ever since he ran away from the looney bin, Harri’s got some basic principles for spending the night outdoors: it has to be a remote place, outside of town, where there’s an overview of the surroundings, and it has to be off the main road, so that you wouldn’t catch the attention of random hooligans. That’s how we’ve come to sleep underneath bushes in a suburb or in the mountains, at a hike’s distance, between cacti and bushes that looked like huge horsetails. Apparently there are no snakes on this island, but there are plenty of spiders and other critters.
“And why do you think a spider would climb on a sleeping human? Do you really believe that? Are you that sheltered?” Harri ridicules my fear before it has time to bloom.
One early morning I rise to a huge spider with hairy legs climbing on my sleeping bag. Strangely enough, it doesn’t send me into a panic and I just flick the spider aside lightly. I guess that was a pretty good compromise: it got to live and I got to keep sleeping. Later on I’m bursting with pride, as I tell Harri about the incident, but he’s not as enthused, “If something is on your body, don’t move, don’t hit it! One time I was sleeping outdoors in the desert of Kara Kum in Turkmenistan when I woke up to a tickling sensation. I found the most poisonous spider of those parts walking around on me. So I calmly just waited until he walked off. Had I touched him, I’d have been dead in a few minutes!”
I can see that Harri likes inviting me to the mountains for the night. Even though he calls himself a lone wolf, he does actually like discussing the ways of the world. “I knew since the seventies that the Russian Empire would soon fall,” is one of his stories. “I went around and told everyone about it. I didn’t know when it was going to happen, but the indicators were everywhere. I was sensing and analying them and making my contribution to getting those processes going faster. And it all came true!”
The same enthusiasm emerges when he’s talking about the start of World War III now and the cleansing of the world, as a result. “I don’t know yet where it will all begin, but I’ve been to so many different countries and seen the psychology of people… this is going to be a huge chain reaction! All peoples hate someone else and when the opportunity presents itself, they want to conquer them. Besides, there are too many people as it is, there is too much useless mass out there and the only way to remain in existence on this planet is to go through a cleansing.”
“Where is it safe then… in case something should happen?”
“Usually it’s safest in the mountains: you need caves for cover and a mountain lake, where you could get fresh water. Do you know what to do in case a war breaks out?”
I think about that, reclining, my sleeping bag pulled up to my chin, with the lights of two villages shining in the valley below. “I guess I would isolate myself somewhere, farther away from everyone else. To survive.”
“Precisely! All the alert people, those who can think for themselves, know how to save their genes and head out of civilization’s way immediately. If you find caves with a spring that gives you water to drink, you have a good possibility of survival – and the farther you are from big cities, the better. It’s also good to be far from the seaside, because the sea will most likely begin to rise…”
(continued in the book)
When the market closes at midday, the sales move to the beach area. The beachfront is full of restaurants, where young black kids dart between the crowds, holding gold chains or sunglasses in their hands. They approach the tourists and shout, “Good price, lookie-lookie!” On the insistence of my boss Harri, I try this a few times too, waving a bunch of foldable sombreros around. “Look, people, at first it’s just a sliver, then you make a fan out of it and then voila! I pull it open all the way and close it with the Velcro tab: see, it’s a beach hat instead!” I clear my throat, trying to attract more attention from the tourists walking by.
However, all I end up with is a strong inferiority complex. I admire the black salespeople around me, who can retain their entrepreneurial spirit and good mood even when the tourists snap at them with a disdainful “No!” and turn their heads. When it comes to me, there’s something else besides agitation that I see in the eyes of those people: it’s curiosity mixed with racism and sympathy, “Excuse me, but why does this blond girl, who looks like us, have to do work like this?” During these weeks I get quite a few job offers: as a waitress in restaurants, a public relations person (that’s what they call the poor soul who has to stand in front of their establishment and bring in people off the streets), a hotel receptionist, a timeshare salesperson…
I’m not taking any of these jobs, for starters, but I also give up on the active sales work near the beachfront restaurants. I find a spot near some more modest black women, who are selling on the steps.
Tourists pass us by with veiled stares. I try to put myself in their place – what would I do, if I walked past a set of steps where illegal salespeople have spread their goods? A short time later, I discover that I can’t put myself in the shoes of a white tourist anymore. It’s too distant.
Little black kids keep a lookout at the top of the stairs. When a cop car stops, they whistle. We pick up all our things and step away quickly. Policemen hurrying down the stairs shoot malicious looks at us, but there’s not much else that they can do.
One day we don’t hear the whistle. Suddenly the cops are right there. The black women’s wooden elephants and drums are confiscated and put in a large bag. One of the women starts crying, “I have five children!”
I give the policemen a look that’s as sincere and ignorant as possible, “Why can’t we sell here? There’s lots of room, the stairs are wide!”
He looks at me with astonishment for a moment, probably wondering to himself whether a half-wit tourist has decided to do something extreme for entertainment. Then he snaps.
(continued in the book)
“Privet!” someone wakes me from a near-slumber. I open my eyes to notice that I’m surrounded on all sides by young men. I’d seen them that morning at the market. Russian sailors on land leave here for a few days.
“Privet!” I cheerfully reply and start talking to them. Why, they’re almost my compatriots! Soon enough some of the guys invite me to go swimming and others offer to watch my things. Sure, why not? Alone on a beach, one of the biggest problems is not being able to go swimming. There’s a good amount of jewellery and a little money in my bag that I couldn’t leave out of sight.
A wind blows inland from the ocean, whipping up great salty waves. We jump in the water, dive in the sea…
I lose my balance for a moment and one of the men grabs my hand to help. It’s Yura: a tall, blond, wide-shouldered man, friendly like a teddy bear.
“Do you want to pick me?” he suddenly asks in a rushed manner, breathing in my face and throwing furtive looks towards his friends. The waves crashing around us are so loud, nobody can hear us.
“What?” I ask, still smiling.
“They’re planning on getting you on the ship… But if you choose one, then I can protect you. I can even pay you. Come with me! I can get your things and we can get out of here!”
In a flash, everything around me has changed.
I turn to look at the beach to see that my little beach towel has been taken over by the men and one of them is holding my bag between his legs. And I can see that they’re wolves, baring their sharp teeth in a smile, and I’ve turned them into animals, because as far as the eye can see, I’m the only topless woman on this beach. And they’re sailors who just docked yesterday. They’re probably even prepared to rape me. Or at least they think that I’m a prostitute.
And there’s nobody on this beach to come help me if I was to step into the middle of that gang of sailors and started demanding my things back.
I jump in the waves, the smile frozen on my face, looking at the apathetic mass of tourists on the beach, trying to figure out what to do. Who to bet on? Would someone come help me out or would I just end up making an awkward scene that wouldn’t help me get away from the sailors?
The waves keep crashing around me and there are four men around me, one of them looking a little more expectant than the others now. We’ve got a secret. He knows I understood what his offer meant.
“Yes,” I shout to him, more on instinct than as the result of an analysis, which I was incapable of at the moment. “I agree!”
An instant later and we’re out of the water. I’m shaking, wrapping a beach towel around me, and clumsily trying to get my clothes on. At the same time, Yura is telling the others something in a super-fast and incomprehensible mix of Russian and Spanish slang. I can’t understand what he’s saying and can’t get my head to work right at the moment. Have they manipulated me into some sort of a trap? Is he still trying to promise his friends something? Have I just simply lost my ability to think clearly…? What to do?
One thing is clear here – we’re all trying to outplay each other here.
For a second, I think about trying to pull my bag from Yura’s hands and screaming, “Help! I want to leave!”, but I just don’t have the guts. My sense of embarrassment has reached epic proportions.
Yura and I are walking down the street now, his strong hand tightly wound around me; we look like a couple. In his other hand is the bag with my jewellery, and I already regret not making a scene on the beach. Maybe one of the people on the beach would have come to help me and I could have got my bag back? But that moment is gone now.
(continued in the book)
In the afternoon, we like to sit by the window in her hotel room.
Both of our eyes on the horizon, sitting on the windowsill, we’ve suddenly started talking about unattainability. It’s funny how Djellah seems to be the type of person who should appreciate the poetry of the elusive bluebird, but in reality she’s extremely straightforward in matters of the heart, sharing her words of wisdom with me as well. “It’s so not true that men love women who are hard to get!” she says. “They love women who have enough courage to approach them and get to know them! It’s also not true that distance makes the heart grow fonder! Most men forget. Very fast. Period.”
“But… what’s the problem then?” I’m searching for the right words, trying to figure out how to ask: why did the dozens of relationships that you’ve had all fall apart and why are you still alone?
“Look!” she starts to laugh. “I’m the one who needs unattainability!” The laughter then stops, sharply cut off. All of a sudden Djellah is sitting there like a broken doll, head sunk to her chest.
“I’ll tell you… There’s this guy. Michael… Wait!”
I’m waiting. Djellah has decided to spend the last of her money on a bottle of red wine and returns a few minutes later from the store downstairs – yes, Marco’s store. The wine and Djellah’s story start flowing… first to the 1960s.
Once upon a time there lived a romantic young man whose name was Michael. The propaganda worked and he volunteered for the war in Vietnam, where tortured and killed Vietnamese people, and where his best friend was killed right in front of his eyes. For two decades, Michael succeeded in stuffing his nightmares far into the corners of his subconsciousness and lived a proper life , but then snapped. At the time when Djellah met the man, he’d lay in bed for days on end, without wanting to even move a muscle.
“Look at him!” The photos show melancholic eyes in a manly face and a slack pair of lips.
Djellah is squatting on the hotel floor, next to the mound of photos she’s dug out of the chest of drawers and her long, blond hair makes her look like a helpless child. “I still feel this incredible passion! See… there have been many times when I’ve severely fallen for severely difficult types, I want to help them in their severe turmoil and depression, but I usually end up in even greater turmoil and depression myself. When I realized just how in love with Michael I was, I told myself, stop! Think about it! Do you really need this complicated relationship?”
“I think complicated relationships are interesting…”
”You don’t have to tell me! I’ve lived with a writer going through the pain of birthing a novel, had to mother his fluctuating creative spirit, I’ve had to live with an unemployed alcoholic, hide his bottles from him…”
I’m looking at the photos, the wine and the stories still flowing. So Djellah ended up severing her budding, but complicated relationship and ran away from the US, from Michael. A year and a half have passed, but the passion that wasn’t allowed to properly burn won’t give her peace. “It’s my masochistic nature, it yearns for adventure and pain! I suppose it comes from my childhood of moving around.”
A succession of photos slips through our hands, memories and men, while Djellah runs her fingers through her hair and continues. “Talking to Michael makes me feel the weight of the world. I like dangerous and unstable characters… But when I’m with him, I can’t laugh! That’s one secret that I’ve discovered over the years: if you can freely laugh in a man’s company, it means that you can be happy with him for some time. With Rolf I can laugh!”
I look at the pictures that have slipped to the floor: the dark-blooded, mystical Michael between beige sheets, and the light-skinned, smiling Rolf in a sailboat, with the blue sky as his background. “Rolf is this simple and fun type! It’s just that… when I’ve looked into those sincere, light blue eyes for a couple of weeks already, I’m really sorry that those eyes are just so transparent.”
Yes, I know, Djellah, I think while listening to her stories. I too have a man with transparent eyes, waiting for me at home, but unlike you I have not had the courage to be honest with my man. Yet. Maybe tomorrow
(continued in the book)
“Hello! I’m coming to Fuerteventura too!” he said panting and crashed down in the seat next to mine. Before I could even express my surprise, it became even greater: a strange squeaking sound was coming from the young man’s backpack.
“I found some kittens and bought a feeding bottle and milk for them,” he explained in all seriousness and carefully pulled a week-old kitten out of his bag.
“The poor thing, its eyes aren’t even open!”
“Yes, but they’re not newborns, see, their eyes are about to open. By tomorrow they’ll be open.”
“So how come you took them, where’s their mother?”
“I’m sure their mother has died. I watched them for a while before taking them, went to peek at them every few hours and saw that they were squealing louder and louder.”
And so we all rocked in the boat all the way to the new island: me, Jonai, the four kittens we fed from the bottle, and, of course, my big bag.
Why did he decide to come with me?
(continued in the book)
If only I had the money.
Being without money makes me feel as if I were inferior to what I was before. I rub my face. Remember this feeling, girl! I tell myself. Even if you get off this island today, the same thing is waiting for you on the other one.
It’s the feeling of walking for kilometres on end behind Harri to go sleep in the mountains because you don’t have any money. Only a short time ago you were working as a white-collar journalist, you had the power and the glory. Now you’re going to the last bar on the edge of town and asking, “Where are the toilets?” and pretending as if you’re not bothered at all by the herd of dark-eyed men leering at you, dropping lewd comments in Spanish and cheesy compliments in English. You pretend as if it were also completely normal that you use a hotel bathroom to brush your teeth, but then leave without buying anything at the hotel cafe.
“This is my uncle,” your introverted look should be telling them. “I’m actually from one of the richest and most dignified families in Estonia. This guy is our family’s black sheep, but I decided to come on this trip with him for the experience!” After all, this is what you’ve fibbed to a lot of your colleagues at the market.
Sometimes there are luxury hotels on the periphery of the city. That’s when you tell Harri: “Wait outside,” and he gets a little mad, but still agrees. Then you pass the doorman with a bounce in your step and a movie star smile on your face. “Oh yeah, these dirty and ripped jeans, it’s the latest fashion thing, and of course I’m staying at this hotel,” is what your smile says. And you go to the bathroom with its shiny glazed tiles to look at yourself for a moment in the mirror.
Who are you? Where are you?
And then you’re in the mountains. A spider is climbing all over your face and you know for sure that during these past weeks you’ve changed, because you just calmly let it climb on. A strange apathy has started weaving its web inside of you. Why bother twitching? Why bother hoping? There’s nothing you can do about it anyway.
This is what life is like today. It’s the one you chose.
(continued in the book)
“Do you want to see the zoo?” Marco asks, as he settles into his car seat. He’s a bit tense – I’m not sure if he regrets bringing my family here to the mountains or whether it’s just the way he is. I don’t really know him, have not known him for a long time.
“Sure… if this zoo is not too far?” I slowly force my answer.
“What do you mean ‘the zoo?’” Justin asks.
“Come on, let’s go!” Marta is already shouting louder than all of us.
And we’re off. We turn back to go down the mountains, the rear of the car scrapes the foot of a cliff… We drive along and past a wall constructed of huge stones meant for catching fallingdebris. “All this is my property, as far as you can see,” Marco points proudly towards the mountainous landscape, covered in reddish brown sand and solitary tufts of cactus bush. “And see this wall… this is where my new house is going to be.”
“A new house? What for?” I ask, before realizing how impolite it might sound. “I mean, you already have a house in the mountains that you practically don’t use at all?”
“But there’s a neighbour right next to that house! Here, it’s completely private!”
We bump further down something that slightly resembles a road until we arrive at a strange place fenced in with barbed wire. Dozens of wooden sheds can be seen through the fence. Marco rolls down his window and yells at the top of his lungs, “Gordo!”
A fat, stocky man staggers out of a large shed. “God damn it, drunk again,” Marco comments, shooting me a look in the back seat, as if there should be some background knowledge we shared here. Why?
Do I remember this man with a large build who’s approaching us, should I remember him?
Memory is a strange thing. Maybe I really have seen this man with rotten teeth and a beer belly before, but maybe what’s recognizable here isn’t the man, but Marco’s attitude in a similar situation, something I’ve seen before – the loud, arrogant way that he behaves, almost sadistically enjoying the role he’s playing. Or maybe this recognition comes from a past life, an emotion that suddenly came on in an intense flash and then slid back into its hiding place in the subconscious. Something that really had nothing to do neither with me nor Marco?
There’s just this angst. This sadness that reveals itself in the darkening mountains, where the present and the past, reality and the world of dreams mix together like the mountains melting into the sky along the horizon.
Gordo opens the gate and we walk in. Marco is yelling at him, it’s hard to say whether he’s truly upset or if this is just the way they communicate. Birds are making noise all around us: geese, ducks, and white doves, all of them thrashing around their wire cages.
“Maybe they’re hungry?” I ask, turning to Marco.
“Yes, sunset is their mealtime,” he answers and shouts an order to Gordo.
“What is this here on your land anyway, some kind of business?” I probe further. “Do you eat these birds? Did you have this back then also? You did eat meat, right?”
“I do eat meat, yes…” Marco begins to answer my barrage of questions, but then my impatient daughter drags him away by the hand, “Hey, come this way, can I go near the birds?”
Reeking of whiskey or something else rather strong, Gordo sways a little as he’s standing next to us and speaking in Spanglish, “No, we no eat them! They – pffft!” he runs his finger across his throat in a gesture that doesn’t leave much to the imagination and then throws his hands up towards the sky.
“They get killed?”
“But why? If you don’t eat them?”
“We no kill them! We sell them to cubanos.”
“Cubans?” Well yes, there are quite a lot of them working on the island, as I recall. Jorge, for example, the one who works at Marco’s store…
“But why do the Cubans pffft them?” I ask throwing my hands to the sky as well.
“For God! For the spirits!”
(continued in the book)
Next, the apartment in Tel Aviv, where I was sent with a couple of other people. to clean. It was a peculiar place. The owner of the building was set to start renovations at the apartment. The previous tenant had faxed a letter to end her contract and in it she wrote, “Do whatever you like with my things.” Apparently she had worked as a flight attendant on international flights, met the love of her life and moved to the US, quitting and leaving everything on the spot.
Our job was to prepare the space for renovations and put all the things left by the previous tenant in large trash bags. No, not just trash and wallpaper. We had to remove all the layers that make up a person’s life: the clothes, sheets, pillows, books, dishes, CDs. Like vultures, the neighbours were rummaging through the big bags that we put outside of the apartment in the courtyard. In the meantime, random men marched in and hauled out the shelves that had been emptied. That small world was falling apart from every angle.
I looked at the destruction and suddenly understood that young woman. She made a choice, she chose to leave, or rather stay where she was, and not ever come back. At the same time, she wanted to take along her home, and she did just that: in her memories. Coming back here to the apartment, she would have had to see and organize this whole destruction herself. Perhaps this home was so important to her that the only way to take it along as a whole was to give it up completely.
While gathering things off the shelf, I noticed a passport. That moment I felt a pit in my stomach. Could it be possible that the girl has been killed instead? How can someone move to another country without taking her passport with her?
(continued in the book)
As I crawled out from under the towel and got back up again, I felt the stare on me once more and it startled me.
The smiling man was still sitting there, about twenty meters away on the promenade, looking at me. I have no idea whether fifteen minutes had passed or whether it was an hour, but there he was and he now started to walk towards me: a curly haired man with kind eyes, big dimples and laugh lines. He looked calmingly bizarre, like a middle-aged Santa. I started to walk past him to leave the beach, when he stopped me.
“Can I help you?” he asked, with a strange accent in English. “Please, let me help you, I don’t want anything from you, but I can see that you have worries.”
I didn’t answer, wiped some sand off my face and gathered myself. So what was my worry? Should I really trust this stranger, while I haven’t entrusted anyone with my confusing baggage of concerns, not anyone close to me, nobody in Estonia or Gran Canaria, nor had I) tried describing to Harri how difficult things were for me.
“Can I help you out with money? Or do you need to talk to someone, or to have someone talked to?” the man asked on. “Tell me. There’s a solution for every worry in the world! Almost every one of them!”
Then I remembered what the Lebanese sister had said. An older man was supposed to help me. And here he was, an ambassador of fate, someone I shouldn’t fear.
We walked along the evening promenade, all lit up. Franc had introduced himself by now. He was a Slovenian arms dealer, who had come to Cyprus to make a deal. “My work takes me around the world, everywhere where countries need weapons… I just went to strike a new deal in a factory in Belarus, before it I signed a sales contract in Israel, and I’ll be flying to Indonesia, to East Timor next week. Wherever you hear news about wars or possible conflicts, you can be sure that we’ve tried to make deals there to supply people in those areas with arms… I have two passports, one of them I use in the Arab world, the other in the Jewish one…”
Oh, so this kind of money, made by killing other people, is going to help me out of debt, I thought in sheer astonishment. Oh really?
(continued in the book)