Sunday, 8 October 2017

Breaking the Pomegranate


'We say spame to rodi,' said Dimos at Faros taverna yesterday evening, handing me a pomegranate to break for luck with my new home. We'd just finished a dinner of calamari and briam and fried small fish, which are just available again since the season began for fishing with trata nets. I'd learned of this good news after running into Stelios on Friday's Blue Star ferry to Rhodes. (On the way back, a couple of young guys were playing lyra and laouto on the top deck.)

I told Dimos I'd already broken and eaten a pomegranate in my new home on the seafront in Livadia. At first it felt strange living in Livadia after so many years in Megalo Horio. One of the benefits of living here is wandering down to the square mid-morning to see which of the farmers from Megalo Horio or Eristos is selling fresh produce. A couple of days ago I'd bought green guava that flooded the kitchen with their apple-pear aroma, and pomegranates, and olive oil, and fresh olives that I'm soaking in water to prepare them for eating. 

On the way to dinner, walking along the seafront, I had run into people I know with their dog. They asked where I was living now and I told them. It's directly facing the sea, and they weren't the first to warn me that it could get lively there with winds and waves. 'The question is how you'll get out the door in the winter!' laughed Seva. Her husband said, 'Ah, she'll be OK, she's lived in north Karpathos!'

So here I am, with the red fruit on my hand-woven tablecloth that I bought from Anna Lentaki in Avlona a couple of days before leaving Karpathos. I have rented this place for the winter, and then we'll see. The first of the autumn rain came down on Friday night, accompanied by a power cut, and more rain came down this morning as I was waking up, and now the sun is peeking through the clouds on a silvery blue sea. The sounds are the water sweeping up to the beach, and some crows - and now, the deep rumble of the big Blue Star ferry backing into the quay. I'll work for a while, then go for a walk - there have been many beautiful walks over the last two weeks since I arrived. Oh, but first of course I'll break a pomegranate.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A Warm Afternoon in Olympos

It was a warm afternoon, as Archontoula and Anezoula both said later. But I had to seize the opportunity and go. For once, I wasn't too busy or rushing back down to Agios Minas. It wasn't cloudy or windy. So I waited until after five, drank some water so I wouldn't have to carry anything, put on my walking boots and set off up Profitis Ilias.

Olympos is roughly halfway up the mountain. I walked to the edge of the village and followed the path, gradually zigzagging up the rocky slope, the day's heat bringing out the aroma of sage and thyme. Approaching the ridge, suddenly a swathe of green appeared, sweeping down to an amphitheatre of semi-circular field terraces.

Had it been a clearer day, I'd have seen Tilos to the north. But the horizon had been hidden in a heat haze since the morning. No matter, I'll be seeing Tilos soon enough. I thought about what an amazing experience I've had since arriving in Olympos a year and a half ago. Walking here on that first day, I'd been offered a ride for the last section of the journey by kind locals. Another branch of the same family have been making life impossible at Agios Minas all summer. It got so bad that I left for a break, went back to Tilos, found myself a little house to rent for the winter. So now these are my last weeks in Olympos for some time, and I want to make the most of them.

The signage was both clear and confusing. One sign at the start of the path had said it was twenty minutes to Profitis Ilias. I must be walking very slowly, I thought as the little church on the top never seemed to get closer. I realised later that twenty minutes must mean to the point where the Olympos-Spoa intersects with the path to Profitis Ilias. I was thirsty as I pulled myself up the mountain. It was something of a relief when the sign at the top said it was an hour and a half down. Except that by then, the sun was setting...


I arrived back in the village as it was getting dark. Archontoula said my face was red. I showered, then went back to Kafeneion Kriti for a beer, and a hearty dinner of meat and potatoes and bread. I spent the evening wandering from place to place seeing friends. I'm not finished with Olympos yet.