Nisyros: the bells, the dog , and the case of the disappearing snake

The usual start to the day with breakfast on the terrace was not quite the same on Sunday.  Normally the only issue of any moment is whether to choose to sit in the sun or the shade depending on the amount of breeze.  The only sounds are the chirping of birds in the trees, the occasional squeal from the resident cat which stalks the tables in hope of finding the odd bit of ham or salami being slipped its way and gets trodden on accidentally, and the screaming of scooters and three wheeler pick-ups going past every now and then.

I have got into the habit of going down to breakfast at 07.30 sipping an orange juice and accessing the internet which is possible at this time in the morning.

But this Sunday was very different.  It was apparently the ‘Name Day’ of St Nicholas, who I’m told came from Nisyros and so is a Big Thing here.  The church by the harbour has been having evening services for a week leading up to today.  Sunday there is obviously a church service in the main church in the town.  I can tell this because it is broadcast so that the entire town can hear it.

The usual quiet breakfast on the terrace it was not!  If I had been trying to hold a conversation it would have been difficult.  There were two levels of incantation, the lower register being a kind of chorus chipping in now and again as if in confirmation.  There was also the shaking of small bells, presumably in association with the swinging of incense.  Then, suddenly, there was a frenetic clanging of The Big Bell, presumably in celebratory mode.  That set off a dog on the hill behind the hotel which started barking and then howling as if at the full moon.  And this is not your normal 1 hour service, it lasted about 2 hours.  All part and parcel of life on Nisyros.

Breakfast over I decided to do a repeat of an earlier walk, the one via the Siones monastery and the ‘hidden valley’.  From time to time, while picking my down up and then down the massive terraces and fighting through impenetrable undergrowth (yes, I know that’s a non sequiteur), I had seen the occasional fading blue dot painted on rocks, indicating that at some time someone had marked a route if not a path.  So I thought | would try to put them all together.

It took time and perseverance, casting around to join up the dots, but they did mark a route through the jumble of rocks and terraces and thick, very prickly holly-oak vegetation.  Not what could be described as a ‘path’ in any meaning of that word, but definitely a route through the maze.

I didn’t take many photos but did photograph the massive spiders which seemed to be hanging in the air in large numbers at the top of the col.  I suppose they were taking advantage of the rising air bringing food their way so this was obviously prime feeding territory.  Seemed opportune to photograph them seeing as Ruth mentioned them in her Guest Blog and these were such fine specimens.

One of many waiting for somethings to turn up

Part of the reason for choosing this walk was to return via the spot where I had seen the snake-in-the-wall on Saturday.  Today there was not a sign of it nor of it ever having been there.  A number of possibilities spring to mind.  First, it could have eventually swallowed whatever it had in its mouth thereby crushing it and reducing its head to normal size so it could extricate itself. Second, predators, possibly an eagle, more probably hooded crows, had seized their chance and noshed it.  Third, someone had come along and pulled it out, alive or dead and disposed of it over a wall.  There was no sign whatever of where it had been so my guess is that the crow option is unlikely. The first option is the one I like the best.  I like to think it’s now slithering around somewhere with a full belly and resolved not to ever again bite off more than it can chew with its head inside a wall.

Evening meal was outstanding.  Main course was good as always but there was complimentary and very delicious freshly home-made goats’ cheese and large fresh figs.  Monumental!

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