Interview with Cleo Odzer Part Three: THE HIPPIE BUS: FROM GREECE TO INDIA
- Interview with Cleo Odzer
January 2000, Goa, India
By Marcus Robbin
Copyright: Marcus Robbin (®2000-2008)
This material is for private use only. Any commercial use strictly prohibited.
All rights of Marcus Robbin are reserved. Used by permission of the author.
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THE HIPPIE BUS: FROM GREECE TO INDIA
Cleo: (resuming) The trip overlandthe trip overland to India was incredible. And it was
such a learning experience, the whole six weeks it took to get here. And every step of the
way was an adjustment, because the people were so poor, it got poorer and poorer and
poorer, and the sanitation got worse and worse and worse. The toilets got worse and
worse and worseI can't imagine people flying in from Londonstraight to Goa, or
straight to India. I can't imagine. Because the way I did it, step by step by step, I had to
make an adjustment. And our first stop was Istanbul. And the toilets were unbelievable
there wasn't a toilet on every floor. There was a toilet on every other floor. And the floor
was about this much wateryou can imagine what the water was mixed with. And you
had to walk through this disgusting liquid, and then you got to a toilet with a door that
didn't close, it was male and female, two footprintsand they didn't use toilet paper, so
you had handprints of shit on the wall. And that was Turkey, that was the first stop out of
Athens. So this was just the first step, you were going into a new world. So this was the
first adjustment. And being a woman traveling alone, I never had trouble in Europe, except
for Italians. Oh! Italians are really bad; they pinch you!
But I never had fear as a woman traveling alone until we went to Turkey, which is Muslim.
And one time we stopped, to go to the toilet, and three women went into the toilet, and
some men followed us. And it was scary. I was scared. They didn't do anything, but they
could have. I think some men came from the bus. But it was my first encounter with fear,
being a woman, traveling alone. And on the busthis was one of the old buses, that
didn't have a toilet. And I have this little bladder, so I have to go to the bathroom very
often. And when the bus stopped in the middle of the night, the driver would have a cup
of coffee. And everyone else was asleep on the bus, and I would jump out the back. And I
was always so scared that he would get back in the bus and go, without realizing that one
passenger was missing. And that happened to him once, I found out later, it happened.
His name was Julian and Tom. They're in the book. And they told me that story, that one
time they did lose a passenger. They didn't lose me, but I was always scared, when I went
out to the bathroom in the middle of the nightthat I was going to be left in Turkey on
some back road in the middle of the night. A woman traveling alone with no passport.
(laughs) Just me alone, in some little town. And in Islam, if you're a woman without a veil,
without a man, you're fair game. (laughs) They can do whatever they want to you. Whatever
they want to do, they can do that. So that scared me, but nothing happened.
And then, another problem I hadkind of a problemas I said, I have this small bladder,
so I have to go to the bathroom a lot. So usually, I'm very careful with how much I drink,
so that I time it so I can get to a bathroom in time. And another side effect to having a
small bladder is you get bladder infectionscystitis. And I had started having intercourse
I had started having sex when I was fifteen. But I started having sexual intercourse when
I was seventeen. (And actually the sex was better before, but that's another story.) So
when we got on the bus I had a seat next to a guy, we were sort of boyfriend-girlfriend.
And we didn't get a chance to be together until Iran. The end of Iran. We got a hotel room
together and we finally pushed the beds together. And we were in bed together, and I
touched him, and he was big! And I said "Oh no!", I said "No way! I can't do this", because I
get bladder infections, and one of the ways that I usually get bladder infections is if a man
is too big and we have sex, somehow it hits my bladder the wrong way. And I just couldn't
take the chance, because from Iran we were going through Afghanistan, Pakistan, India,
and I couldn't take the chance to have a bladder infection, so I said, "No way," and that
was the end of that relationship. But after traveling those three and a half years, I had a lot
of bladder infections, and they are very painful. (laughs) One bad thing about free love is
those little unexpected infections. And bladder infections are one of my weaknesses.
Our bus came through Pakistan, and our first stop was Amritsar, where I saw the Golden
Temple, and I ate a custard apple. And it was fabulous. Oh, it was so fabulous to taste a
new fruit, and see something so beautiful as the Golden Temple. It was... an experience
that can't be described, to taste a new fruit that you never even knew existed, and see
something as beautiful as the Golden Temple. And then we came through Taj Mahal, OK,
then Bombay, and our destination was Goa. It was a Hippie bus that went straight to Goa.
And it went to Calangute and we got off in Calangute, and everybody went away. And I
didn't realize I was one of the only people traveling alone until that moment. And I said
"Oh!" After being with company for six weeks, and suddenly I'm all alone, in Calangute. So
it was a moment of, "Uh oh, now what?" And then I sort of tied up with the driver of the
bus for a few days. And then I found my way over the mountains to Anjuna Beach. And I
said, "I'm home".
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