Sunday dawned grey. At least I assume it did. As it had dawned a few hours before I emerged into it I had no way of knowing for certain. The view to the mountains and the area around Parga on the mainland, visible from the upper terrace of the house, had disappeared completely in a dark grey murk and thunder was rumbling around in the distance.
I set off jauntily to walk down to the harbour to have my morning WiFix, thinking smugly to myself that if I was still in Parga I would be getting very wet. Yesterday I had passed a house being rebuilt at the side of the rough track down and as I passed I greeted and was greeted by the two guys working on it. This morning they were driving up the road in a car and as they saw me started to snigger to each other. Having checked that my fly wasn’t undone I carried on down thinking no more of it, simply locals laughing at tourists.
In a few moments I passed the house in question, now with no work going on, rounded a bend and realised why they were laughing. There was red-and-white plastic tape stretched across the road between the high garden wall on the right and the high dry-stone retaining wall of an olive grove terrace on the left, and the entire width of the road was filled with freshly poured concrete. I dismissed the idea of going back up the hill to find another road as that would take up too much time. I dismissed the idea of climbing the wall up onto the terrace because it looked in a pretty dilapidated and loose state. I dismissed the idea of going into the garden on the right and sneaking down that way as being too cheeky even for me.
On the islands it is common to see the mains water pipes draped across the surface of the ground rather than buried. They are normally made out of thick polypropylene and pretty robust, the diameter varying according to the amount of flow required of them. There was one such, 4 inches in diameter and a nice shade of blue, draped along the bottom edge of the terrace wall, so I walked along that, thankful that it wasn’t wet as that would have made it even more slippery. Balancing act completed successfully I continued nonchalantly on my way, hoping that I would meet the two guys again so that I could smile and look triumphant. Sadly not.
A brief aside here about olive cultivation. The Venetians conquered the island in 1636 and ruled it until 1797 when control passed to Napoleon’s France. During that long period of stable rule the Venetians encouraged the planting of olives by the payment of 1 Taler (however much that was worth) per tree. A book by the Florentine aristocratic scientist, artist and author Archduke Ludwig Salvator, recently published in an English translation, documents his visit to the island in 1884-85 and records 440,000 cultivated olive trees and 100,000 others ‘not cultivated’. The latter grew naturally in cliffs and the like where farmers couldn’t hoe or prune them. The island was thus turned into one massive olive grove and it is obvious from the girth of many of the trees today that they date back to those earlier centuries. It seems that to this day land on Paxos is bought and sold not in terms of acres or hectares or other unit of area but in terms of number of olive trees and trees have red markings with initials and a number to indicate ownership. The land itself is divided not by field boundaries but by a line drawn half way between trees.
The harbourside was even more deserted on Sunday than it had been on Saturday. The Municipal WiFi still wasn’t working. Many Greek islands have a free municipal WiFi system but not all work. I think the islands got money from the EU to set up the equipment but when they fail there is no money for maintenance. So I sat outside the restaurant we ate in on Friday evening, closed in the mornings, and pirated their WiFi.
But not for long. The sky had become progressively more overcast and after half an hour it began to leak. I had said that I would get back to the house by 09.30 in time for breakfast so I had no choice but to make a 20 minute dash for it … 135 metres uphill. I made it back to the house, once again successfully balancing across the now wet water pipe, before the rain became torrential. Home and relatively dry
During the course of the morning the rain stopped and it started to dry up so we went in the car down to Lakka at the north end of the island looking towards Corfu. Had a drink on the attractive harbourside and then got caught in torrential rain on the way back to the car. And sadly that was the pattern for the rest f the day so no more walking or exploring. It was just too wet.
But it gave more time for reading and having a chat over copious amounts of coffee. Not a bad thing for someone who by temperament and metabolism finds it difficult to sit still and relax. And not bad to spend Sunday relaxing and reflecting. Did a lot of both yesterday. Now all fired up and raring to go. Weather forecast is for conditions much more conducive to that. Sunny and warm for the rest of the week predicted by 3 web sites which I looked at. Here’s hoping! Apart from anything else I may be tempted to get the camera out again.