The Village & the Mountains

August 12:  I decided to start this morning with a walk.  My original goal was to head toward the sound of a priest singing; it’s Sunday morning, and there’s a church just down the road, so I thought I’d give a peek inside.  The singing wasn’t coming from that church, though; it was coming from the church up the hill, in the upper village.  So I started up in that direction.  I soon got distracted, however, by the figs I saw all over the road.  There was a fig tree right over the street, so I started poaching figs. 

 

Yum!  Then two tiny cute dogs came up (one looked like what Scootchie, my mom’s dog, might’ve looked like if she had a body), and I had to pet them, and then the singing stopped.

I turned around and headed back down to the farm.  In all likelihood, I didn’t miss anything in giving the church a miss; all of the singing I’ve heard emerging from other churches has been recorded.

 

My walk took me back to Dimitri’s farm and then up the hill, through the winding terraces of olive trees.  I had a great view of all of the houses below from the top of the hill!

Here’s Dimitri’s house:

And his pigeon cote (which is also the picture on his olive oil labels):

And olive trees:

And a view looking down at the neighborhood houses (Dimitri’s house is in front):

And a view of the upper village:

And me up on the hill:

To get back, I took a less weedy walk (the weeds in Greece are truly mean, filled with prickers and stickers and burrs) that led me past George’s house.  George saw me, kidnapped me, and fed me breakfast (juice and bread with tahini and honey).  It was lovely; Nick’s daughter and son from Athens joined us briefly, and they spoke English, so we were actually able to have a conversation.  George then picked me the last of the grapes from Dimitri’s arbor.  

George takes very good care of me.  He is forever and very sweetly concerned for my welfare, asking me if the house is ok and warning me against the dangers of walking in places that might have snakes or thunder and lightning.

I’m now writing from Mount Parnonas – I’ve driven up to spend the night here at the hotel I visited several days ago.  There’s something about these mountains that just resonates with me – I don’t know if it’s the tall firs and pines that fill the view with green, the cool air, the villages tucked into the hillsides, or the scenic vistas, but I feel like it could live here.  Cold mountain springs provide the water, and you even see moss and ferns every now and again.  The trees here are taller than any I’ve seen growing wild elsewhere in Greece.  If you squint, it might be Maine.

They have lots of little monasteries dotting the remote hillsides here.

This one was unoccupied, so I didn’t get to seen any monks, but I did get to ring the bell!

Lunch is at a tavern in Vamvakou (I love saying that).  I’m just having a Greek salad, since I snacked my way through the morning in an attempt to start cleaning out the fridge.  Greek salads here fascinate me; they’re all the same, but they’re all different.  The ingredients are all fundamentally identical: tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, feta, herbs, and a sea of olive oil.  There might also be olives or capers.  And that’s it.  But the flavor changes every time.  Today’s salad is perfumey (not my favorite taste) with cheese that tastes strongly of whatever sheep it came from (a flavor I’ve come to enjoy, to my surprise).  Oh, and when you talk to a waiter in English, they call it a “Greek salad.”  I find that odd.

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Midway through the fifteen-kilometer drive to the hotel, it started to rain – big, heavy, pelting rain (thought not the blinding rain that comes with a Baltimore thunderstorm).  It made for a beautiful drive through the woods.  It helps that the roads here are nearly empty, so I don’t spend as much time wondering when someone is going to come zooming around the next bend.  Now I’m relaxing just inside the terrace, drinking hot chocolate and watching fog rise up like smoke between two mountain peaks as the rain begins to clear.

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