Friday, July 15, 2011—Diafani, Karpathos, Greece
I haven’t been in the mood to write for some reason the last few days, so I’m going to be playing some catch-up with this entry. A couple days back I took a fairly long hike Avlona, a little agricultural village, which is a couple hours’ worth of hiking to the northwest. It was an interesting trail with a nice long ascent thru a fairly dense (by southern Greek island standards) pine forest. The town itself is quite traditional; most of the few women I saw there were dressed in old-fashion garb, I’m not sure how much is going on in regards to electricity, and running water, and wheat, olives, and goats are what keeps the little place going—not the tourist trade. That said, there is one taverna there that does attract tourists. Unfortunately just before we got there a tour bus arrived and we found our Greek backwater experience people too by Germans, Italians, and whatnot. A pleasant experience still, but not quite what I was hoping for.
As for yesterday, I did very little. I had one of those days one has sometimes on a long trip where a wall is hit and laziness is the order of the day. So I just read, sat around a waterfront taverna nursing an orange juice, and then took an afternoon nap, before heading out for dinner and then drinks, with Carla, the Italian woman I met here.
Today I did something I usually don’t do and went with a tourist boat up to the islet of Saria, which is just north (literally just north—I probably could have swam from one island to the other) of Karpathos. Like I just said, I usually try to avoid these tourist excursions, but there really isn’t anyway else to get up to this island and I really wanted to check it out. Until about forty years ago there was a village there. Now, except for one ninety-eight-year-old woman (whom I did not see) nobody lives there, except seasonally—there are still goats, olive trees, and other things raised there. My tourist compatriots, who were from Slavic country, based on the sound of the language they were speaking, which I couldn’t quite place, and were a bit silly, the men especially, who, though fairly young, were really out of shape. Their kids seemed to be getting into the spirit of things, but the adults in these groups seemed to be mostly about drinking the beer booze they brought and eating chips and other crappy food, while hiding in the shade (why didn’t they just stay home if they wanted to do that?).
I got away from these folk as soon as the boat landed and hiked up this beautiful little gorge to check out the remains of the old village, which were really interesting. I also found a cool old church that really intrigued me as an archaeologist in that it seemed to be built on top of an ancient temple of some sort, and even incorporated some of the old marble columns into the walls surrounding the place. There were also some fragments of a floor mosaic visible, which Manolis, the captain of the boat that took us there, said dated to between 500 and 600 AD. (He also said that there was evidence of human habitation on the island going back to Minoan times, but I didn’t see any evidence of that, or if I did, I didn’t understand that that was what I was looking at.)
After my hike, I went for a swim in the pretty little lagoon where the boat was anchored (this is where everyone else on the boat stayed—though they were surrounded by some really cool ruins, not one of these people ventured off the beach). The lagoon had some really neat sea caves and was definitely a nice place. My hike took so long, though, that I didn’t have much time to explore because the boat was heading out. We went to another beach after this that looked good a well, but after their hard day of drinking, eating crap, and lounging, none of my boat buddies wanted to get off, so we just headed back to Diafani (I wanted to explore the place at least a little bit, but I guess majority rules on these sorts of things and so no one inquired as to my opinion on the situation).
And that’s that—I’m pretty much caught up on what I’ve been doing. Tomorrow I head down to Pigadia, mainly because I’m out of money and there are no ATMs in this village. I’ll be there until Tuesday night, when I catch the boat back to Crete. I’d like to head out earlier and at a better time—the boat dumps me off in Sitia between one and two in the morning, which means sleeping on a bench somewhere, as there’s no way to get a room that time of night and the buses to my next destination won’t start running until six of seven. When I get to Pigadia I’m going to check out what it costs to fly back to Crete. It’s a really short run and might be cheap to jump over to Iraklio, even if I buy at the last minute. If I can get a decent fare I’m really considering splurging, so I can avoid being here longer than I want and to avoid the hassle of an early morning arrival time.
Though I still have slightly more than three weeks to go on this trip I can feel it drawing to a close: for the first time since leaving I’m starting to look past Greece to heading back home. I think nine weeks might have been a bit much here; six weeks might have been better, might have made for a more taught trip. I could easily get a second wind (or perhaps third wind) when I get back to Crete, though. I have no complaints, though—for my first time in Greece I think I did a good job, saw a lot (though arguably within a geographically small amount of space, given how much time I had). In other words, I’m feeling good, happy with how things have gone.
OK, I’m outta here. It’s now about seven-thirty in the evening. I had breakfast at nine in the morning and my lunch consisted of a piece of watermelon and a shot of ouzo. Off to La Gorgona for a big dinner …