Nisyros: setbacks, things beyond our control, exhilaration!

Great first two days walking.  Third was well ….

I’ll deal with the setbacks first.  On Sunday, my first day on Nisyros and the start of Greek Odyssey Part 2, the screen on my brand new Canon S100  started to malfunction.  Vertical lines about 1mm apart and an opaque strip across the top rendered monitoring shots very difficult, especially in bright sunlight and dim interiors of ancient dwellings.  A plea to, from which I bought my last 2 cameras and which I have recommended to others, failed to find a solution before I return home in mid-October.  A setback I’ll have to deal with.  Almost as bad as having my Canon S95 stolen in Patras in June, mid-way through Greek Odyssey Part 1.

Monday I managed to leave my swimming trunks at Avlaki, the other side of the island from Mandraki where I’m staying.  So the priority for Tuesday was to recover said trunks.  Bus back to Nikia, 415 metres steep descent to Avlaki … and no trunks.  Probable explanation was the extremely strong wind which picked up overnight and continued through the day, more of which later.  The trunks are almost certainly now on Tilos, several miles to the south across open sea.

While at Avlaki I had decided to swim out to where the hot springs were said to emerge.  In a very rough sea it was impossible to find the spring and impossible to spot all the submerged volcanic rocks littering the far end of the small lagoon. I briefly and without damage brushed one with my back but failed to spot another and cut a load-bearing part of the sole of my foot quite badly.  As a mountain-man (one of my delusions) I always carry a pretty comprehensive first aid kit so could effect a repair.

It had taken 42 minutes to get from Nikia down to Avlaki, there being no photographic interludes, but amazingly it took only 43 minutes to get back up in the heat of the day.  I’m afraid I’m one of those sad people who sets myself targets for everything and monitor corresponding performance.  I wanted to walk back via the caldera if my foot behaved itself but knew the cop-out was the bus from Nikia at 15.30.  I was at Nikia by 14.15, had a very good frappé in the taverna in the bottom square … and then, caffeined-up, set out for the caldera floor by 14.30.  Only a wimp would have sat there for another hour waiting for the bus!!!!

It was exhilarating!  Double digression then a backtrack.  Digression 1: We used to have a black cat which ran around like a made thing if the wind was strong outside.  We used to say that it had the wind up its tail.  I was like that on the walk back from Nikia.  I had the wind up my tail.  I was buzzing!  Digression 2: I know how strong the wind can be on Nisyros because in May 2009 when we reached the top of Oros Divatis, the highest peak on the caldera rim, Enfys, (my late wife, for those who don’t know) was picked up by a dust-devil and thrown across the top.  Fortunately she suffered no more than mild shock.  Backtrack: The wind had been throwing spray over the harbour wall and all along the seafront before I left Mandraki.  At Nikia several hours later, 415 metres higher and accelerated by the Venturi Effect, it was thrashing trees around and making walking difficult where it was funnelled .  There were dust devils floating around the slopes and on the caldera floor but none did more than blind me with dust and caution me to stop and anchor myself more firmly to the ground.

I repeat, I was buzzing!!  My foot required re-application of first aid on the caldera floor but gave me no problem whatever.  I got back to Mandraki by 17.15 which meant that I walked right across the island via the caldera in 3½  hours.

And to cap it all I had made a point of searching out what I had stumbled across last year but not realised the significance of …  a seismic fissure in the floor of the caldera, created in 2003 and getting more pronounced.  More about which at other time.

BUZZING!! A great day.  But no swimming trunks and not many photos sadly.

Rough sea beating on the breakwater in Mandraki

From just above Avlaki, looking up to Nikia on the caldera rim: note the retaining wall of multicoloured volcanic rocks.

The newly built Agios Nektarios above Nikia.

Part of the long seismic fissure in the caldera floor

The ground has collapsed into the fissure leaving tree roots behind

A note for geeks: The Canon S100 has the added feature over the S90 and S95 of not only recording the image but, via GPS, recording exactly where on Planet Earth the photo was taken.  For me that is a major step forward.  I can record where the seismic fissure begins and ends and I plan to go back and do just that.  All I need now is a camera with the facility to annotate photos in the field.  And a fully operational camera.

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