The pattern of my days on Symi is different to previous years. I spend the morning doing chores around the house and writing. By midday I have had enough of both and need to get out into the mountains and/or head for a beach to have a swim. There a few favourite routes I take depending on what time I set out, whether I’m bursting with energy or flagging, and whether I need to go to the shops around the harbour.
One of those routes is particularly good fun. Head up to the ridge via the very good and spectacular kalderimi past Agia Paraskevi then turn right onto a not so well maintained kalderimi past rock slabs looking straight down into the harbour and on up to the road for a mile overlooking the army camp, cutting off a few bends by going over rough terrain and then turning right onto a rough track. There are 4 options from here, all of them on rough paths through striking landscape.
Perhaps the most impressive is to drop down a small gorge to Nimborios. It’s only about a mile long with a drop of about 500 feet to sea level but it’s good fun, especially the lower section where the falls are bigger and the sides cliffed and more closed-in. It doesn’t require any climbing skill, just a bit of confidence at rock-hopping and the occasional careful negotiation of a drop. Some of the falls are vertical, others are inclined slabs but none is very high. Sometimes climbing down into and then out of a dry plunge-pool can be avoided by traversing around the rocky sides. Why lose height that you have to regain even if it’s only a few feet?
Earlier in the year it helps to carry a stick to move high-tensile webs which spiders stretch taut across narrow gaps at head height so that they wrap round your face and get tangled in your beard (if you have a beard). At this time of year small flocks of rock partridges rise up in panic and fly off, chuntering manically. If they stayed still you wouldn’t know they are there they are so well camouflaged. Occasionally a lone Little Owl flies out from the crags, completely silent, no cry and soft-edged feathers which make its wings noiseless in flight. Painted Dragon lizards, head up, suspicious, imperious, watch from rocky outcrops and dart into crevices if they feel threatened. Oertzeni lizards dash across the riverbed in front of you and hide in the dense oregano lining the sides. Butterflies flit around, pausing only occasionally, often in unlikely spots.
No wonder progress is slow.
The last fall is the highest, a broad inclined slab with the sea and the buildings along the beach in sight. After the still, hot air in the gorge a swim is a very welcome prospect.