Monday, 27 March 2006

Into the clouds

On the island we know some strange weather conditions, like the racing up and down of the temperatures, or the one moment there will be no wind, the other moment there will be a gale blowing your head off. The island knows tropical rains, as well as heavy hailstorms damaging the crops. A rare weather condition here is fog.

If you see a foggy landscape here your first thought will be that the dump is on fire. When I once lived on Rhodes, one day at the beach I woke up from a dog-sleep and I was really surprised: the beach was covered by an impervious white cloud. I saw people quickly grabbing their belongings and running off the beach. Just then I recognized the smell: fire. One of the bigger hotels had a fire and the thick smoke made its way to the beach reducing the visibility to less than a metre.

Another warm day we were sunbathing on a beach on Corfu. There we were surprised by a cold fog creeping out of the sea. We jumped into the car to go to another beach but there we also saw the fog crawling out of the sea. We drove further on to other beaches but then the fingers of the fog even tried to get at the car. There was no way of escaping, except for driving up into the mountains. There we found a nice taverna looking out over a sea of clouds which were hiding the whole of the island.

I never saw the island of Lesvos entirely disappear into the fog. Very rarely it can be a little foggy because of low clouds flying by. Last week we were ready to take a walk over a just discovered monopati in Plomari, but then we were chased back into our car because it started raining. The water kept on falling, so we had a nice ouzo at a friends place and went back to Eftalou which meant that we had to cross half of the island and the rain kept steady.

I have never been keen on travelling the roads on this island while rain is pouring down. When you see what enormous rocks fall down on the road during those showers you always say to yourself: am I glad that I did not just drive there. When late that afternoon the rain stopped when passing Ambelika, we drove straight into a cloud. An enormous dark cloud which would have been a nice one for a horror movie. I enjoyed this weather condition although we couldn't see further than a metre and we could hardly follow the white line in the middle of the road. It gave a kind of cozy feeling of being home: thick fog, except that we had to travel over one of the highest points of the island.

There was a kind of tension in the car and that was not due to the fog. Only when the visibility became clear in the darkening evening and we could see a few metres further than before, Jan told me that he forgot to fill up and the car could come to a stop at any moment. So we made a quick decision to go to Agiasos. The roads were then pitch dark because night fell, which was not that easy because we had to take this new road and had no idea how that was going.

But we reached Agiasos safe and sound. We filled our car up and took the road home. It is strange to drive through those pitch black woods without meeting another car or seeing the lights of a nearby house. Only at the Mytilini to Kaloni 'highway' streetlamps took away the blackness. Far away we saw the silhouette of Olympos as if it was never cloaked in a big dark cloud. No, we are no riders in the dark.

And so we have all kinds of weather. During the day a hot sun which makes you take off several layers of clothing, ice cold nights where for sure you need an extra blanket. Sometimes a freezing wind, while in the lee you could sit in a bathing suit. Rain in the south, wind in the north, one day summer, the other day a merciless return to the winter. Dolphins in a smooth sea or white caps on the waves attacking the shore. Big fishing boats whose whispering motors lull you into sleep or such bad weather that even those fishing boats do not disturb the fish.

There are people who think that the sun always shines in Greece. Well, the big amounts of water in the mountains still looking for a way to come down prove this to be untruue. There was so much water coming down this winter that our cesspool keeps on overflowing. The many roads that have been damaged or are broken because of heavy rainfall are too many to count. Here big holes and cracks keep driver busy.

The way from Skoutaros to Filia was already in a bad condition. Now it is that much worse that it looks more like an obstacle course. Maybe the worst piece of this road is in between two municipalities and nobody wants to take the responsibility of this dangerous road surface where for over a year a branch of a tree has warned drivers of a pothole at least half a metre deep. Coming closer to Mytilini there is a Ford garage which has its showroom in the middle of the new road. This is not a natural obstacle but nevertheless it will probably stay there forever because the owners refuse to tear it down for the new 4 lane highway that should easy the traffic to the capital. Today we discovered that the inland road from Vafios to Eftalou was completely destroyed. Last year we could still drive it with our faithfull Nissan Sunny, but after last winter not even a 4 wheel drive or whatever car the Greek farmers are driving here can handle that road.

Not only the hotels have to be tidied up for the new season, the roads also urgently need to be repaired. We have to wait and see if the municipalities will do that job after all this winter disasters. Fog, clouds or rain, even with good weather the Lesvian roads are full of surprises.

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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