Amorgos: the ups and downs

This is a Blog in Two Parts

I have to admit to having been a bit down in the mouth recently, especially first thing in the mornings.  I suppose it has been compounded by the fact that I have been pushing myself physically and my body is beginning to rebel.  In fact I think I’m gradually falling apart.

Before I came I had developed some kind of flakey-skin problem on the big toe of one foot.  It’s no worse but with constant exposure to the sun now all my toes require daily dose of Australian heel-balm (truly marvellous stuff, based on urine) in order to prevent a trail of dried skin following me wherever I go.  I also have Mediterranean-heel which is why I started buying the Australian stuff in the first place.  I thought I was over that and didn’t bother applying it until I suddenly realised that the pain in my heels was not bruising but the skin having cracked with fissures to the raw flesh and dirt getting in.

Despite applying high factor sun screen to my lips I now have cracks in my lower lip and a recurrence of cold sores which I thought I had left behind last year.  In five months last year I didn’t have them once, first time since coming to Greece I was free of them.  Pundits say that they occur when one is ‘run-down’.

I daily have to apply after-sun to my nose and forehead to glue them back together.  I put Factor 30 sunscreen on my nose everyday but to little avail and my forehead just seems to flake without burning.

And I have to regularly extract thorns from my toes, one of the downsides of wearing sandals and walking fast.

And then there are the cuts whenever I scag my skin on anything remotely sharp, an inheritance from cortisone treatments for past sporting injuries.   There are more sharp plants around here than anywhere else on the planet earth.  That’s obviously an exaggeration but there really are a lot, a very lot of very sharp plants.  Yesterday I cut my toe nails before I went out and within half an hour one Sharp Plant slashed the end of my middle toe (nothing to do with 1066 And All That) right across the quick.  I’m sorry but it really hurt and there was blood!  Ten minutes later another sharp plant penetrated vertically straight down under the left Big Toe Nail detaching itself from the plant and leaving a 3-inch spike protruding out ahead of me.

It gets you down!

I woke up on Friday morning and felt a bit more down than usual, to the point where I prayed about it.  To be honest I haven’t got over losing Enfys and some days are just harder than others. And Friday morning was one of those times

A good breakfast helped, particularly the good, strong coffee.  Surprising how much mood swings can be resolved by proper application of drugs.  Well, caffeine anyway.

I had a plan for a walk but no enthusiasm for it.  The walking guide I bought has detailed description of 7 ‘Footpaths of Historical and Cultural Interest’.  But one of the maps accompanying the book showed Path Number 8.  It led off the path I had walked on Thursday and though it wasn’t signed with a finger posts like the other two I had walked I thought I had identified where it began and so decided to give it a go, to walk the footpath which doesn’t exist.

It certainly did exist and it was very clear.  It was obviously a kalderimi, a donkey path, that was regularly used as attested to be the significant quantities of droppings now and again. It first dropped down to the valley floor and then back up to the opposite ridge.  As it was a kalderimi it kept to an easy gradient and within half an hour I was on top of the ridge on the other side of the valley.  It was a pleasure walking.  It always lifts my spirits being in the mountains, I’m much more at home there than in a social context.  Someone said that people become mountaineers because they are no good at parties.  I suppose it’s to do with being self-contained, comfortable with your own company.  I have come to the conclusion that I just don’t do social interaction very well.   But up here I’m in my element.

The map showed the path reaching a ridge-top track by a small church so I stopped there for a drink and look around.  It was nothing ornate, no frescoes, just very simple with a couple of framed paintings.

Very simple mountain church

Simple and unadorned inside

Colourful painting of the Archangel Michael

A closer look at one of the other maps I had showed a castle close to the church but no footpath to it. While I was looking at the map I had a visit from another strange creature.  No idea what it was.

Creature on mt rucksack

I struggle through waist high prickly stuff to get to it and then climbed the 8 foot stone wall to look inside.  What struck me was the donkey droppings.  Where there are droppings there must be donkeys and they certainly didn’t come this way.  I found the entrance around the other side and then had another attack of Repetitive Photo Syndrome.  Fascinating place.  Not like any of the other castles I’ve seen, more like a stone built fortified hill top.  I don’t know if the walls are the original height or if the vertical stones set at intervals in the top of it were part of the original, but I was impressed.

Inside the castle

Amazing stones in the walls

..... lots of them

Large threshing circle

When I eventually left the place the gloom had lifted.

From there it was a matter of following the ridge-top track until it petered out and became a footpath which continued along the ridge before dropping down to the beach where I had been yesterday.

Not only was it very enjoyable with a lot more interesting stuff to see , including old abandoned settlements very different from those on Nisyros, but a good part of it was marked by the little plaques with the number 8.  It might not be described in the book but it’s shown on the map and marked on the ground.  It certainly exists.

View down to the headland church to which I was heading

Once at the beach I had another good swim, more or less on my own, the few others who were there were taking advantage of the permitted dress code.  Then I walked back up to the Chora via Path Number 2 which I followed on Thursday.

Very satisfying, uplifting day.  But it was by no means over.

To be continued ……

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One Response to Amorgos: the ups and downs

  1. Chris says:

    Hi Barry. Glad you are enjoying the walking on Amorgos. There is a nice circular one starting in Egiali and taking in the picturesque villages of Tholaria and Lagada, which has a good taverna. The insect on your rucksack, if I am not mistaken, is a cicada. You are lucky to have seen one as they usually hide themselves well.

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