No matter how rational we like to think we are we mostly make decisions based on subconscious, emotional inputs and then justify them with logic. We reinforce the positives and diminish the negatives in so doing.
Thus it was on Monday, my first full day on Tilos. It was significantly hotter than the heatwave conditions when I left home and I knew that I ought to be sensible and opt for a fairly short walk until I’m acclimatised to Aegean midsummer heat with the sun still high in the sky after the solstice. Out of the various options with which I was familiar there was one which stood out in my mind, a walk across the island to Stavros beach. I didn’t have to think about it much, the decision was made.
It fitted the main criteria in that it was relatively short and there was the prospect of a refreshing swim. I pushed to the back of my mind the knowledge that there was no natural shade on the beach and the prospect of very little en-route.
It was a great walk and as I looked back on it I tried to work out why it was I knew without doubt that that was what I wanted to do. First and foremost it got me into the mountains and away from the crowds, not that there is much resembling a crowd on Tilos, especially this year when numbers seem to be down again thanks to the recession and media scaremongering about the Greek economy. It also had an inbuilt swim on a pretty inaccessible and therefore secluded and deserted beach.
But high up there in the list of subconscious inputs to the decision was the fact that it is very rocky, a clincher for a self-confessed vrachophile (my invented word from the Greek βράχος – ‘vrachos’, rock and φίλος – ‘philo’ friend).
It didn’t disappoint. The climb up to the ridge is partly through a steep-sided gorge and the drop down to the beach from the giant boulders at the top is rock all the way, in places involving scrambling.
The fact that there was no shade on the beach turned out not to be a problem. From the large amount of winter flotsam and jetsam previous visitors had built a shelter with wooden beams and bamboo. Perfect. The late afternoon pull back up to the ridge in full sun had the prospect of finding a corner of shade in the boulders on the top.
When I was here for a month in 2010 I did the walk to Stavros fairly regularly in preference to walking the 10 minutes down to the ‘town beach’. I dare say it will feature a number of times again this year.