Stratos Dionysiou at Mount Sinai


It is written in the caves of Altamira, at the Dead Sea Scrolls and at the Ouija boards of Middle Ages: The world began without the man and it will end without him.

Somewhere at the Sinai Peninsula, two hours from the Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden, near the Feiran Oasis, there is the hermitage of an old man, who is neither Christian, nor Muslim, nor Jew.

Above the blanket, which serves as door, there is a sign written in Greek, in Hebrew and in Arabic. The sign reads: Whoever enters, it’s my honour. Whoever doesn’t, it’s my pleasure.

And below that, in half-erased letters, probably written by someone who opted not to enter but felt like intervening, is a word barely seen: Fuck off.


The bus which took us to monastery was driven by a Greek. He had a CD with Stratos Dionysiou songs and blasted it through the speakers eight solid hours from Cairo to Feiran. The rest of the passengers, a group of dyed-in-the-wool believers, complained several times asking for something “more becoming”.

-You spoil the rite Tasos. Put on something more ecclesiastical, said the guy who was in charge of the group.
-Why? Isn’t Stratos ecclesiastical?

And he put on the fourth song, next to “It rains fire on my way”.

Ηe was singing along:
“Why God this life
hunts me down like a robber
and when I search for light
the light hides my own brother”

Just beside him, I was sitting with Timothy. We were in stitches and told him to turn it up.

-See? said Tasos to the man in charge. Those guys know about good music.

And he turned it up, while the ladies of the cultural club tried to resist to Satan by singing hymns and dropping curses.


Apparently the God of the Mount heard them because one hour after Feiran the bus spat two words of Stratos, was immersed in its gases and gave up the ghost. The ladies clapped their hands and praised the Lord till Tasos got up, turned to them furious and told them: “I’d like to see, who will take you to the monastery now. The Lord? Or perhaps the Bedouins?”

He got down and thrust himself in the engine, cursing the Divines.

One by one we got down to stretch our limbs. The road was the only sign of civilization in the desolate horizon; the road and something that resembled a canteen, like a mirage, one or two kilometers towards the sea.

-Do you want to buy you a beer? I asked Timothy.
-Do you think they have alcohol here?
-We’ve got nothing to lose. Would you rather stay with the old farts?
-The best parts of the journey are the ones when you’re lost.
-Let’s get lost for a while…Mate! How long will it take you to fix it?

The response was a stream of curses. That meant a lot of time.


The two brave boozers set out to Fata Morgana.

It was much more further than it seemed. In the desert everything gets closer to you and once you approach them, they are more distant. Probably Moses was hornswoggled like this with the Burning Bush. Till he got there, he was so much dehydrated, that he was hearing voices of Gods and Demons.

The canteen turned out not to be a canteen but it was difficult to define exactly what it was. A shed made of boards and blankets with the writing aforementioned and this half-erased “fuck off”. A scrawny dog was meditating staring at a grain of sand. When it got the smell of us, it raised its muzzle, wagged its tail once and let out a grunt that a dog wouldn’t immediately spring into mind.

We stood before the blanket-door and our hope for drinking beer had already vanished.

-“Let’s enter”, said Timothy.

He had the mentality of an American. Somewhat childish, autistic, and definitely dominating. As if the whole world was his own, his toy. As if there was nothing else than his take of things.

-I like it when you become adventurous.
-If worst comes to worst, it will be Osama Bin Laden in there.
-If worst comes to worst, it will be George Bush…junior.
-Or it could be the Burning Bush.
-I can take it. But not Bush.
-What about Elvis with Stratos?
-Oh my God!
-Way too American for Sinai.
-Trust Chaos Luke, said Timothy mimicking Obi-Wan’s voice.
-It could be our grandfather. Thanasis Dogas.

Timothy was ruffled. He liked to play with chaos but he couldn’t stand its fire. Typical American. It isn’t fun when the gun points at you. And Chaos is out of control, it fires right left and center.

-“I’m going in”, said Timothy and walked through the curtain.

I looked back. Nothing but the desert and a speckle in the horizon, the immobilized bus. The dog kept meditating. The world stood motionless. No sign of humans. It wasn’t the awe that dominated but the queen of human history: Boredom.

I followed Timothy. Not because I had something to win or lose, but it would be very dull waiting.


second part “Pamela Anderson in the desert”


Translated by Alexandros Mantas

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