By Margaret Sheard….
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Joel Stratte-McClure who has taken on the mammoth task of walking around the Mediterranean Sea. Think how many countries this involves!! He has led a very full and interesting life and we asked him to give us some information about himself to build up a picture of this extraordinary man who is now in Cyprus on yet another phase of his walk around the Mediterranean Sea.
Joel was born in 1948 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and eventually became a Journalist. He covered the Woodstock Music & Art Festival in 1969 which was his first decent front page cover story and he ended his career in Hollywood, California, writing a column in the LA Daily News until 2009. During this period of time Joel lived outside the USA and worked for different enterprises such as Cosmopolitan. Scientific Magazine, People Magazine, Time Magazine and International Herald Tribune.
It was in the early 1980’s, with the advent of faxes and modems, that Joel realised he could live anywhere and he lived outside the US for 33 years, mostly in Paris and the south of France. In 1984 Joel wrote a piece in Time Magazine entitled Mediterranean Destinations. At that time he travelled by aircraft around the Mediterranean but he had always been an avid hiker and had hiked in the Himalayas and the Andes in the 1970s and 1980s. After writing the piece in 1984 he decided to plan to walk around the Mediterranean Sea by the year 2000. Joel celebrated his 50th birthday with a present to himself to do this walk. Initially it was to get away from the daily grind of journalism as he was travelling all over the world covering all sorts of topics.
The planned Mediterranean walk was to be mainly a meditative experience, hence the name MedTrek, and he was not intending to write about it but on the first night he stayed at a Cistercian Monastery outside Cannes and continued with other interesting accommodation and so wrote 2 articles about this experience which was published by Time Magazine and this then prompted him to continue writing about his experiences on the walk and his first book “The Idiot and the Odyssey – Walking the Mediterranean” was published in 2008 and covered 4,401 kilometres around France, Algeria, and Spain, ending in Rome. In Morocco he went into the Spanish Enclaves and in Gibraltar as far as the sign which states Ministry of Defence, but otherwise he covered every inch of the coast where there are no military restrictions.
The second book “The Idiot and the Odyssey II – Myth, Madness and Magic on the Mediterranean” was published in 2013 and again covers 4,401 kilometres and starts in Rome and ends in Troy. Following in the footsteps of Odysseus and Homer, Joel set himself to undertake 12 tasks assigned to him by the gods which included such tasks as swimming the Hellespont, climbing Mount Olympus and visiting the birthplace of Zeus in Crete and he completed the 12 tasks so bringing himself closer to the Gods. During this walk, Joel did a lot of meditating and searching into mythology.
Now on his third book, “The Idiot and the Odyssey III – In the Steps of Alexander the Great”, Joel had to make a decision to by-pass Syria, he was advised to avoid a possible national incident by not walking in Syria and so he and his partner Liz Chapin came to Cyprus. Joel and Liz have been friends since 1997 and they enjoy walking together and enjoying the scenery, culture and history of the many countries in which they have walked.
Initially, in Cyprus, Joel and Liz have walked the Mediterranean on the south side of the island, having to avoid the military areas and with very few incidents, except when they entered the British military base, feigning ignorance of course, but nevertheless they were treated very courteously there. Joel and Liz have spent some time with their friends Michael de Glanville and Viola Edward while they start their walk on the north side of the island. While we were with them Chris Elliott offered to take them to their starting point of Kyrenia Castle the following morning and with an early start and joined also by Michael and Viola, Chris showed them a few of the places where they would not be able to follow the coastline and he was persuaded to join them and walk for a while. In the meantime, while in the area,. Joel and Liz planned to join Michael and Viola at the 1st North Cyprus Yoga Festival which was being held from 15th to 19th May at the Olive Tree Hotel in Çatalköy.
In North Cyprus, as of 18th May, Joel and Liz have now walked from the border at Kato Pyrgos to Yeşilköy east of Kaplica. So, as of 18th May 2015, Joel has now walked 11,172 kilometers around the Mediterranean.
We are looking forward to following Joel and Liz on the continuation of their walk around the North of Cyprus and then their onward journey to complete walking the whole of the Mediterranean.
There is much to read on Joel’s website about his travels so far and you can continue following him by visiting www.followtheidiot.com