Monday, 1 August 2005

Cowboys in the sun

In the same weekend that the Dutch Ankie van Grunsven got gold for breaking in with her horse Salinero, the Molyvos Cowboys (and one cowgirl) also attempted to break in their horses. It was the annual festival of Agia Theoktisti, a little church next to the Alonia restaurant. It is celebrated by the Pegasus horse club in Molyvos and starts on Friday night to collect money for the party by having a procession through the village. Quite Greek because the band that was supposed to participate in the cortege of the four legged animals was late by one hour, which gave the horsemen plenty of time to bring their horses close to a nervous breakdown.

The procession with the hot-blooded horses went in the direction of the harbour with a big cow in front. The main thing was to impress the unsuspecting passersby. The riders were dressed like stout cowboys and most horses were hung with colourful halters, neck-chains and other decorations, even the frail foals had necklaces. The cow in front was bearing a garland, at the back it had a thick pack of mud. Many a horse showed off dangerously so that the tourists had to back off. It was a restless procession that ended at the starting point at the restaurant of Alonia where there was plenty of ouzo to continue the night.

Saturday was the Holy Day. A mass was celebrated at the little church of Theoktisti and then the traditional dish of 'kiskek' was prepared in big kettles. The food was to be distributed to everyone who seems to be hungry. Nobody knows why this little Molyvos church has three days of celebration with the horses. Molyvos is known for its tourists and not for its horses. One could suggest something about another procession on the same weekend: of tourists. In the high season the Harbour Street is already a big parade every night. But maybe with some garlands, some traditional clothing - so that we know what foreigners they are - and some free glasses of ouzo it will be an even better parade.

The Horse Days ended Sunday night at the horse track. The horse track is above the Garden Village of Molyvos. It consists of a gate and a track for the horses. Some policemen were trying to keep the public on the right tracks, but a Greek is a Greek and does not listen to a police officer. They parked where they thought it would be a good place and they walked wherever they wanted, even straight over the horse track. Which was all well because each race was run by only two horses who reared more than they ran. So the people just stepped away when it was necessary.

For the outsiders it was hard to make a distinction between all categories, but finally many prizes were awarded. Maybe one tried to copy Anke van Grunsven, only the horse could not control his legs, maybe another horse should have run as fast as he could but was not in the mood because of the still high temperature. It was the usual Greek Chaos.

At the end some horses ran overenthusiastically down the road back home. Two ladies just escaped from being run over and jumped in the bushes beside the road. They were thorny bushes and they had to be saved by the people from the ambulance who were already there for emergencies.

The quietness returned, also for the horses in the meadow in front of our house. They were not allowed to participate in the festival and were therefore pretty cross. Officially they have no names but I call them Toto, Tristan, Tarzan and Troy. Troy is a sweet grey horse with big eyes and he liked to take some walks on the Eftalou Boulevard. He stepped over the wreckage that is supposed to be a fence and made a parade on his own along the fence. Toto, Tristan and Tarzan encouraged him from the meadow like a bunch of naughty children. Then Troy thought about going on to the beach and that was a sign for the bystanders to try to get the horse back into the meadow. You do not want a car to run over the horse!

Troy is as pigheaded as the farmer who did not repair the fence. So that was done by a couple of tourists on Saturday. Thank you, folks! So you see that even when it is too hot to move, there are still plenty of things going on.

Thanks to the endless heatwave the water is becoming scarce, also the electricity company is having problems. Sunday night for one hour it was pitch dark on the entire island. I seated myself in the middle of our road and admired the stars. Amongst all the falling stars there was one with a big flickering tail. I was so surprised that I completely forgot to make a wish. Otherwise I might have wished that next year Ankie van Grunsven would come here to teach a lesson to the Lesvian Cowboys. Some of them really do need some discipline.

Copyright © Smitaki 2005

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