Frequently Asked Questions
Most of you, mainly because of being polite, ask few questions. I am sure that you have more. That’s why, I gathered them all together and publish them at this corner of my site. If, however, you have more questions, I am at your disposal.
What is godimitris?
It started as the fulfillment of a dream. Nevertheless, its dimensions have gone beyond my expectations. On a personal level, it is the fulfillment of a dream. A reaction to a way of life imposed on us. A real example of an ordinary man who decided to follow his heart, against the status quo. On a professional level, it’s a unique mission for a reporter. During my wanders, I have written the best articles of my life. The duration, the way and the aims of the whole attempt make the site of www.godimitris.gr stand out worldwide.
Millions of Latin Americans, through the interviews I’ve done at local media (which are over 200), have realized that they speak Greek although they thought that their vocabulary was fully based on Latin. They have come closer to Greece.
Thousands of people from all over the world, travel through this site to unknown spots of the planet through photos (and videos lately) and through texts, which I try to write objectively and based on cross-checked information: the journey, in its real dimensions, without overreacting, reporting on the reality. It is the first time that I can write the truth. No matter how hard it is. On www.godimitris.gr there is no censorship. I have already been fought for the truth I write or reveal. But they can’t stop me not now, not ever.
Hundreds of people around the world, revised their opinion about traveling. Some got their rucksack and surrendered to adventure. Some others joined me; others from Greece, others from the USA, others from Japan. And there are many more thinking seriously to attempt a “getaway”.
Hundreds of Greeks of the Diaspora felt that Greece hasn’t forgotten them, not only through my visits to their homes even to the remotest part of the world but also though my articles. In many Greek communities, I have been the only Greek reporter who has ever visited them. And it was the first time that their voice was heard. And the most wonderful thing about it? Many Greek communities have by now libraries or film archives, flags and posters from Greece. Materials sent by you, responding to every plead in the stories I publish. By the way, thank you for your response.
Dozens of “lost” Greeks have found their relatives back home through the reports that appeared on www.godimitris.gr …
You. You have the chance to follow a different kind of journey, a real wandering at the time it’s taking place. You take part in an interactive procedure. And besides, you can be a part of it. You can.
And I, through all those things I experience daily, I hope to become a better person.
Have you changed during your travels?
It’s for sure that when someone travels for more than 1.300 days, alone, to unknown places, and besides he has to overcome all the difficulties he comes across, well, like it or not, these things change you. I realize that the only thing I’m sure I know, is that I know nothing. Our ancestors knew better.
I realized that my borders are the day and the night. There is no other limit. I could never imagine how exciting it is to be free or to decide for your own life. It’s the first time that my belongings don’t weigh more that some clothes and a small portable computer but I feel rich. I realize that we live only once and time is ruthless with its mission.
Perhaps what I experience is the overcoming of my dream but connected tightly to reality. It’s hard to explain. The need for a safe journey does not allow me to daydream, but what I see and experience can’t but fly me to the moon. At times I feel my soul is unprepared for such totally new feelings that overwhelm me!
How do you expect your landing back to the “small” things of life?
The “big” and the “small” are relative in life. I don’t feel I’ve taken off to be obliged to land. If I miss home, then I’ll simply continue my itinerary from my sofa, because that will make me feel complete. Besides, it was on a sofa that the idea of the journey was conceived. When I sit down again, it won’t mean I’m back, but simply that I completed a circle and that this sofa is the remotest place I’ve ever been as a human being.
How did you decide to go around the world?
Ever since I was a child, I had the world map over my bed and dreamt that one day I would go around the world. Ever since I can remember myself, I travel. For example, I’ve done the journey from Holland to Greece by car over ten times and that was before I became 18. That journey woke in me the desire and the curiosity to see and experience every single country and every civilization. To see in real all those images I gazed at in amazement in magazines and on TV.
When I turned 35, the desire was so intense that it turned into a dream. I realized that our life goes by so fast, not to mention how short it is. And what we are left with in the end, is our friends and the experiences. Money is fine but, after all, we shouldn’t live just to work. We work to make a living.
Since as a journalist I can work wherever on Earth I decide to go, what stops me from seeking friends and experiences elsewhere? Living the way that makes me feel good. So I’m having a break from my “normal” life and…here I am! I believe we shouldn’t be poor in our dreams.
Why did you connect your journey with the Greek language?
Others go around the world on a bike, others by car, or another type of vehicle. As a Greek, I decided that my “vehicle” would be the Greek civilization and especially the Greek language, which can be found across the world. If “the boundaries of my language, are the boundaries of my world” according to the German philosopher Wittgenstein, then why not reach my boundaries? And travel from Patagonia and Africa to Australia and Siberia…
As a sensitive citizen, I too am worried about the fact that we live in a world full of violence and insecurity. I am sure that I share these worries with millions of citizens all around the world, regardless their race, color, religion or language. However, I believe that what we have in common are more than what keeps us apart, no matter what the prevailing idea is.
The Greek civilization and language are the living proof that all the nations can live together and affect one another peacefully and creatively. I only mention the examples of democracy, philosophy, the Olympic Games, music, dialogue…
This is one more challenge not only for me but also for the citizens of the world who will find out that they speak Greek although they didn’t know they could! That’s why I believe that my wandering in the world offers me a unique opportunity to communicate with as many people as possible and together to send a message of cooperation and peace.
Are you looking for “lost” Greeks?
When I found myself all alone in Ushuaia of Patagonia, Argentina, where the sign posts symbolically write “The end of the world”, I met Demetrio; the son of a Greek who had lost touch with homeland. His story moved me. I helped him find out his roots. In the process, I came across more “lost” Greeks. The stories I wrote through this site, moved many others. All together we helped them to find their relatives. I discovered one more reason to do this journey. From one edge of this planet to the other, I will be looking for “lost” Greeks and, believe me, they are everywhere.
To be honest, in the course of the journey, I realized that my attempt to find “lost” Greeks, provides me with all this energy I need for the whole endeavor. It’s an honor for me and I’m happy when my mission is combined with this attempt.
How do you spot the “lost” Greeks?
If you seek, you find. This is my basic principle. I know that in every site there is some lost Greek. I look, I ask and sometimes I get lucky.
I ask for the help of the local media, which really stand by me and help me a lot. By now more than 200 newspapers, radio stations, and TV channels in Central and South America have referred to my attempt. And the people respond. There are many who seek to find their roots because their grandfather was Greek, or they have a Greek surname.
Seeking lost Greeks is a challenge for me. I feel I fulfill a mission as a Greek. Nobody asked me to, nevertheless this need surfaced from my heart in the course of the journey. I employ all the knowledge I have and all my strength. I have to admit it’s a hard task. But in the meantime, I’ve learned how to manipulate the research so as to be more effective.
Isn’t it hard to travel on your own?
No. If you have company, you can’t experience the true culture of the countries you’re visiting. Besides, so far, I haven’t been on my own for long. There’s always someone who comes up along the way. Either fellow travelers, locals, Greeks, fellow reporters from the local media. If you’re on your own, you’re more flexible and open to challenges. As long as you take care of yourself. Besides in this journey, I have lots of friends through internet. The e-mails I receive daily, provide me with the strength to go on. Let alone that you discover sides of yourself you never knew they existed. I think that we all have many more abilities than we realize, we just don’t challenge ourselves.
The hardest moment?
The hardest part of my journey was the preparation. A pure nightmare. In Greece you are not allowed to fight for your dreams. I say so in full conscience. When I mentioned my plan to my colleagues in the newspaper I was working at the time, Ethnos, I was fired. When I asked to cooperate with some companies and organizations, I came across their indifference and ignorance. In vain I tried to prove I am not an elephant.
For six months I had been fighting hard and on my side remained only four of my friends. The only ones who encouraged me. I waited in vain for 6 months for the realization of the promises I was given so generously in my country. If I hadn’t issued the ticket immediately, I would still be in Athens. The last four days I hadn’t slept as I was trying to arrange all the pending matters. I got on the plane without being sure where on earth I was going. The only thing I wanted was to land in Buenos Aires. And from there I would decide what to do. It was enough to be away from Athens. I arrived in Argentina and my site, the fundamental part of my wanders, wasn’t yet online.
Did you find yourself in danger at some point?
If you are careful, you have luck on your side and you think positively, which is the most important part, the possibilities to get hurt are limited. So far I hadn’t had any problems with food, I wasn’t robbed off, nothing bad happened to me. That doesn’t mean that tomorrow anything can happen. I am prepared for everything and I hope God is watching me. As the great poet C. Cavafy says in “Ithaka”:
… Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find on your way
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
excitement stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon - you will not encounter them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raises them up before you.…
How long do you usually stay at a place?
I stay until I am full. I never forget however that, wherever I go, it’s logical to experience the best there is at the beginning. I don’t stay that long to experience the negative feeling of routine. Perhaps if I had stayed longer in Rio, the magic of that city would have been wasted in the routine.
There have been places I could stand only for a few hours, and others that I didn’t want to leave from. In Mexico City, for example, I stayed for three months and I still think I learnt nothing. That’s why I’ll go again in 3 years time. That’s how I tricked myself and managed to leave in the first place.
I let myself get carried away by the rhythm of cosmos without complaining or demanding anything. Most of the times I know nothing of my next destination. Only where it is on the map. In that way, lots of surprises await me, hopefully most of them pleasant. Anyway, I make sure I’ve seen most of the places of interest by the end, so I leave full.
The most important parts of your journey?
Every day is another day. Every destination a surprise.
There are places that astonish you with their beauty. Some others charm you with their people. When those two features are combined, you’re simply in heaven. Like in Ushuaia, Argentina, in the end of the world. When I was a boy, I would see Patagonia on the globe and I thought that people there should be walking upside down, that they should be holding on not to fall. In my mind I had created a fairyland. And that’s how it was.
It was the first time I had cried simply because my soul needed a way to express her orgasm. In Philadelphia, Paraguay, close to the border with Bolivia, in a remote area, literally in the middle of nowhere, in a dry and deserted landscape, I experienced incredibly exciting moments. The people there offered me that luxury. How can I describe it in a few lines?
I found myself on an islet in Brazil, I can’t recall its name, but I think paradise must be nearby. I went to Rio for a little while and stayed for 33 days. In reality, I asked the friends I made there to kick me out otherwise I would stay forever. In Mexico, I thought my dreams woke up and were traveling with me.
When you live your dream, when you feel free, and you’re not afraid of anything, when you expect nothing (not out of despair) and you are open to new adventures, when you glow of positive energy, it’s positive energy that you receive. And if you don’t get it, you just get up and leave. Sometimes you insist on finding it and yes, you meet it somewhere at a niche and you are compensated for the whole effort. Every place has a secret paradise, which deserves to be sought for. Perhaps that endeavor itself compensates you in the end. And as Cavafy says, Ithaka has nothing else to offer you but the journey.
Financially how do you get by?
For the time being I travel to countries that are cheap. I stay in economical hostels, I choose the cheapest means of transport and spend as little as possible. I have an open loan from which I draw money more often than I should… When I get paid, that is from the Athens News Agency as a correspondent, I try to put some money back to the loan. Say I bought a car by loan, the next day it was stolen but I have to pay it off all the same… at least my “car” cannot be stolen.
Don’t you miss your family?
Time flies. You don’t have time to think of much when you are out there. The day absorbs you. Lots of times I sleep for just 4 hours to catch up with the challenges of the day. And of course I won’t be doing that for the rest of my life. Fortunately, the internet has helped me to communicate with my family regularly and at a low cost. Throughout these 1.300 days, I came back twice to see my family and if I want to, I can do it again. Some friends came to see me. Nowadays, it’s not the distance that keeps us apart…
Which are the destinations of your journey?
The main principle of this journey is to let yourself to the rhythm of cosmos. At the beginning, I had a fully detailed schedule for the first six months. I went completely out of it. After all, the journey will take much longer than I thought. I don’t know how long. Perhaps five more years. It needs patience and the mood.
In the first stage of the journey, I found myself symbolically at the end of the world in Patagonia, Argentina. I wandered in Argentina, a bit in Chile, in Uruguay, Paraguay and a bit in Brazil. Financial reasons (after 8 months of traveling) made me return to Greece where in vain I tried for six months to find sponsors or at least a decent job.
In the second stage of the journey, I found myself in Cuba and Central America. Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and a bit of Colombia. A wandering that lasted more than 18 months.
I came back to Greece hoping this time to get the support of some of the media or other organizations. But again I left empty-handed. Dozens of reports of mine are published in newspapers and magazines, my videos are shown on the national TV (ERT), but nobody has paid me for any of them.
So I went on with the third stage of this journey, completing more than 4 years of being unemployed and without social security. But I insist. I returned to Latin America to complete that circle. I went to Chile first. I’ll continue with Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Guinea, Surinam.
As for where I am now, you can check my home page.
The duration of this journey depends on the journey itself. I am not in a hurry. It may take some years. My goal is to visit all four corners of the planet, to experience as many countries as I can.
What have you got with you?
As little as possible. Mainly an anatomic rucksack, some simple and practical clothes, a digital camera, a portable “notebook”, a credit card, a compass and my passport. That’s all. I don’t think I need more. Oh! And the travel guide of each country I visit. In total, the weight of all those things can’t be over 9 kilos, as I have a long way to go.
Do you taste the local cuisine?
Most certainly, I’ve put on 8 kilos by now. Although I walk a lot, I try whatever food I come across because of both hunger and curiosity.
In comparison to the Greek cuisine?
There is nothing else like the Greek cuisine. It’s beyond compare. Once in the Honduras, I said that what they have in big quantities, like eggplants, peppers and bananas, they are all edible and very tasty but they consider them “basura”, that is garbage. They eat only meat, which is unacceptable after all, and they throw away the vegetables. They cook the same food every day, beans, corn and meat. For Greeks, it’s after 60 days that you cook the same food. We have a variety of dishes and they only have three. The Mexicans have tasty dishes. They even have chili ice-cream, or chili-chocolate. They are all tastes and I respect them. All these countries have whatever you wish for, even Cuba. All the kiosks have bottled water. Whoever decides to visit these countries, they’ll find anything they like. The food in Lima, in Peru, is one of the best too...
What’s the meaning of “Get a rucksack and come?”
The logo “Get a rucksack and come” doesn’t necessarily mean that you should come to find me. My intention is to encourage people to get their rucksacks, to take the first step and become travelers.
The journey in the form it has taken, I would say that it has already become a two-way procedure. More and more participate in my journey by reading my reports. I receive lots of e-mails from readers who would like to join me because they can’t get another company or they’re simply afraid of taking the first step and travel on their own. Or they are just looking for a good excuse, a motive to travel. Personally I wouldn’t mind sharing some days of the journey with you. So, get a rucksack and come. From the site, you can check where I am. Through the “contact”, you can ask me the details. I will wait for you somewhere out there, as long as you decide to do it.
The only thing I need to make clear is that we can travel together for about 10 days. The important part is the start, the first step…
What is the goteam?
Without the Support team simply this journey would have been impossible to accomplish. It’s a group of friends who not only believed in this plan but also encouraged me and helped me practically to realize it. I owe them a lot. I would very much like to introduce them to you.
What is the “Inspiration”?
In the home page, there is a reference called inspiration. There you can find Cavafy’s poem “Ithaka”. If I hadn’t read that poem—I read it when I was 14—perhaps I would never have got this desire for the journey. Ever since, I have read it so many times but still I can’t get enough of it. Now that I’ve started my own journey to Ithaka, I wish to share it with you. Read it in twenty languages.
What is “goforum”?
In goforum, all those who watch this journey closely, can meet up and make it known to the rest of the world. Here you can send and post your comments and your views about the whole effort.
How can someone participate or help in this endeavor?
The main supporters in this journey have become all of you. Until October 2009, that is for 1.300 days of traveling, I resisted the persistence of many of you to support me financially. Many of you told me that, since you can’t treat me a cup of coffee in Greece, you could treat me one wherever I am.
So, since November 2009, in my new site of godimitris, the number of my bank account can be found. Unfortunately, my finances have reached such a deplorable stage that it affected negatively not only my moves and my life but also my psychology.
The contradiction here is that although I write the best articles of my career as a journalist, I get paid, when I do, with less money than a foreigner unskilled worker in Greece. I’m obliged to limit my expenses to the least. Until now, I haven’t managed to get any sponsors. But I keep saying that if I expected to get the money first to set out, I still wouldn’t have started this dream… If you want to help out with this effort, then don’t forget about me. I work hard to put up new stories every day. Share them with me, enter www.godimitris.gr daily.
Forward the web page to your friends. For example, if you have Facebook, post your friends about this endeavor.
If any of you would like to support me financially, even a “coffee” for me is a few kilometers more in my journey in the world.
What is the godimitris book?
After so many journeys, the experiences and the images become redundant. There’s no space for everything in a site. It’s a pity not to share them with you. So I decided to prepare a series of travel books. The first one about Cuba is out already. There are more underway.
Reading a book, the most you can feel is identification. In the case of godimitris, it’s much more. You are able to take part in it.
First of all, you experience the journey in real time while it’s taking place on the other side of the planet. The story is happening the moment you’re having your coffee. You can neither read its ending nor know its course.
Secondly, you can affect it. With a message of yours, you can change the course of the story. You can ask me for example to visit a town where there is someone you know, an area I wouldn’t go otherwise but I do with your encouragement.
Thirdly, you can become part of the story, by taking your rucksack and traveling along with me.
In addition, you can contact the writer, ask for more details about something you read in the stories.
It’s not a book that was written once. It’s something live and interactive.
It’s a real story, without exaggerations, that reflects only the reality. There’s no attempt to impress because there’s no intention to sell. It doesn’t intend to show off any paradise on earth, but to depict the real life in other distant places, as humbly as possible. And I think that this is what makes the godimitris book stand out in the bookstore stands.
What is godimitris television?
This is a brand-new chapter. The modern technology helps a great deal to that. The godimitris television is a new attempt to record this journey around the world , this time on video. Unique images, exclusive reports on the Greeks of the diaspora, on different civilizations, people, landscapes, flavors and special reports on environmental issues.
The journey continues,
get a rucksack and come…