Photo credit: Gretjen Helene
In the early '90s, I found myself on Mount Athos, an island in northern Greece that belongs to the Orthodox Church and is closed to tourists and female mammals — including human ones. As a male and a Catholic, I knew I could obtain a pilgrim's pass if I indicated that I was planning to convert to Orthodox Christianity. Since I wasn’t, I found another way, through a teacher I knew in Thessaloniki. I took a rickety ferry to the island, along with a handful of black-robed, bearded monks. Once there, I hiked from ancient monastery to ancient monastery, enjoying the feeling of being in a real-life Name of the Rose
Since I wasn’t converting to anything, I avoided conversations with fellow pilgrims, but I did otherwise try to blend in...