Monday, 29 October 2007

In a green, green, green, green, ouzo, ouzoland...

This year the last charter-tourists weren't very lucky. It was raining cats and dogs for many days and the rain filled the streets, the rivers and the fields. While the tourists were mourning their last days, the inhabitants of the island were happy. Finally water! And if you listened very carefully, you could hear nature sighing: the grass was growing as fast as possible. The island is green again.

Dried up riverbeds and wetlands were flooded, as were some dirt roads. The water-birds must have been partying. Yesterday we saw the flamingos not only wandering around the salt pans near Skala Kalloni and Skala Polychnitos, but also they were roaming around in a flooded field at Skala Vasilika (just next to Skamnioudi).

Would these birds know that their living areas are in the news, thanks to some hunters who don't respect wildlife protection? The Lesvorian Forest Department and the Office for Wildlife in Kalloni have for over a year been trying to make the area of the saltpans next to Kalloni and Agia Paraskevi into a protected area, because there are still hunters permitted to shoot there. Which is absurd because these wetlands are known for their rare bird species, and are therefore some of the favourite spots for birdwatchers and are often visited by normal tourists who like to admire the flamingos. Not only hunters threaten this area, but also motocross racers, illegal builders and illegal dumpers. So help these organizations to better preserve wildlife and sign their petition on the website: (Look on the right side for the in English 'ONLINE PETITION').

The European Court probably agrees with these actions. Last week Greece was sentenced by the Court for not having enough Special Protected Areas for migrating birds. According to Europe 25.2% of Greek territory should be divided into 186 protected areas for birds. Until now Greece only has 151 such areas and about 12 birds species in Greece are in danger of extinction. Thanks to some hunters who don't care about wildlife.

Around 22 September it became clear that hunters are not careful about what they shoot. Around Agiasos some hunting patrols found some poachers who had killed 62 Corn Crakes (Crex Crex), birds that are protected worldwide. It was even the Lesvorian Hunting Association which brought this scandal out into the open. They definitely have to have a serious word with their members about what and where they are allowed to hunt.

The same thing applies to Cyprus. This nation was in the news last week because hunters killed 52 Red-footed Falcons, also a protected bird. In a letter an English birdwatcher asked bird lovers not to go to Cyprus anymore, because of this scandalous deed.

I myself do not know that much about birds. I know a tiny little bit about what a quail looks like because a very long time ago I went hunting with a man on Rhodes. He was hiding for an entire morning in the bushes, only to take one shot at one quail. As far as I know it was a wild quail. Here on the island it seems that they breed quails, only to get them shot by hunters. I must admit that my only hunting adventure gave me a feel for the excitement that a hunter must feel while hunting. But here on the island they play foul: I was told that a few days before the quails are set free, to be prey for the hunters, they are fed with corn soaked in ouzo!

Well, if those hunters are also fed with a glass of ouzo, I wouldn't want to get too close to them. Because I was also told that a quail looks nothing like a Corn Crake. And because a few years ago some local hunters, probably bored with small game, set free some wild boars around mount Olympos. Of course these boars multiplied, so that now they are not only fun for the hunters but also a nuisance to farmers. I don't fancy the idea of meeting a boar while walking in the forest. And what are you supposed to do when you meet a boar that has eaten food soaked in ouzo?

The boars have become such a nuisance that they extended the hunting season. However the situation on Lesvos is not as bad as it is on Limnos, the island north of Lesvos. There they have a plague of rabbits and for years even the hunters cannot prevent the rabbits from destroying all the vegetable gardens. Also on Limnos the hunting season has been extended.

And then our neighbour Chios, the island south of Lesvos, hit the news because of some other animal cruelty. Last summer an incident even made the international press. A student first enticed a stray dog with a piece of salami and then poured cooking oil over the poor creature and filmed everything with his camera phone. He sent it to his friends who informed the police about this cruel deed. Recently the government of the island made the national press for distributing free rat poison. Everybody knows that rat poison not only kills rats but also cats and dogs. So there must be a lot of dramas with cats and dogs on Chios.

These campaigns against rats are probably also the cause of death for tens of cats and dogs in Molyvos. I have a rat problem as well. Under our roof lives a family of rats that regularly party and cause damage in the barn by eating their way through wood walls and drawers in order to find food. They're too smart for our 14 cats and I seriously wonder when they will manage to eat their way through the roof in order to sit with us in front of the fire. I know: rat poison can be disastrous, but how do I get rid of the Rat Family? Where is the Pied Piper of Hamelin, so that poison is no longer needed?

Copyright © Smitaki 2007

Monday, 22 October 2007


In the autumn edition of the Dutch Greece Magazine is a readers Top Ten of the most popular Greek Islands. Lesvos is in fifth place. At number 1 is Crete, 2 Chios, 3 Karpathos, 4 Samos, 6 Kythira, 7 Kefalonia, 8 Ithaki, 9 Rhodes and 10 Naxos. Spread over two pages they briefly describe the winning islands. They write the following about Lesvos:

"North of Samos we find Lesvos, which is as big as the province of Utrecht (in Holland). Plenty of sardines swim in the bays and in the south there are millions of olive trees. The island is also famous because of Sappho, who lived there in the 7th century BC. Sappho of Lesvos was a poetess who wrote about the friendship between women. She founded a school for women where dance, music and singing were taught. That's why Lesvos is the island of celebrations! Mytilini is the capital of the island and from this city, when the weather is clear, you can see the coast of Turkey. Our readers love the island especially because of its beautiful nature, the possibilities for an active holiday and the happy crowds."

It's true that Lesvos is north of Samos. But between Samos and Lesvos is the island of Chios. So Lesvos is north of Chios! It's also true that Lesvos is about as big as the province of Utrecht. Lesvos happens to be the third largest Greek island, after Crete and Evia.

Lesvos has two huge gulfs that cut deep into the land, so that you can speak of three 'legs'. In the Gulfs of Kaloni and Gera a lot of sardines swim, but they also swim in the open sea. Kaloni, which has its harbour in Skala Kaloni, is famous for its sardines, fresh or canned. The canned sardines are salted and a wonderful substitute for the salted anchovy. The less salted sardines (a few hours) are a speciality on the island and are called 'sardines pastès'. In high summer there are plenty of fresh sardines and in August Skala Kaloni has a famous Sardine Festival, where you can eat sardines for free for a whole day.

When you talk about the sardines of Lesvos, you also have to mention ouzo. The Greeks say that ouzo is the best drink when you eat sardines (and other fish). Lesvos is the largest ouzo producer in Greece and it has over 40 different brands that are among the best in Greece.

In the south there are millions of olive trees. I guess the number must be right, because it's estimated that the whole island has over 16 million olive trees. And they're not only in the south, but also in the north, the west and the east. Only in the centre of the island are they in a minority, because it is covered with large pine forests. Far in the west you'll find no trees at all. There you'll find only plenty of petrified trees.

Sappho is indeed the most famous person from the island, because she was born here and lived here. Already in her own lifetime she was famous. She wrote about longing, sadness, love, jealousy and about friendship between women. But also about heroes, gods and about nature. The famous people of that time founded schools, as did Sappho. And because at that time it would not have looked good if she had opened a school for men, her school was for women, where they were taught dancing, singing and music. (See also Boulevard News from Lesvos 3 April 2006).

I don't understand why that makes Lesvos an island for celebrations. The god of wine and parties, Dionysos, never came to the island. The inhabitants don't party any more or less than elsewhere in Greece. And Lesvos is certainly no party island like Rhodes, Ios, Zakynthos or Mykonos. The only musician mentioned in Lesvorian history is Orpheus, whose head came ashore at old Andissa after his violent death. The island is known for its philosophers and writers. The philosopher Theophrastos from Eressos succeeded Aristoteles. Besides Sappho the Nobel Prize winning poet Odusseus Elytis was also born on the island. Famous writers from the island are: Giorgos Valettas, Stratis Myriveles, Elias Venezis and Argyrus Eftaliotis.

Mytilini is the capital of Lesvos, an island that is also called Mytilini. Why the island is still called Lesvos, which was its name during the Turkish occupation, is unclear. When the weather is clear you can see the Turkish coast. Well, I think you need very bad eyes not to see Turkey from Mytilini. Or the weather must be very, very bad, which is not often. From nearly all over the island you can see Turkey. Only from some parts in the west can you not see the Turkish coast. Lesvos lies in a kind of 'Turkish bay', so that you see the neighbouring country from the North, the East and the South. When the wind is coming from the right direction on summer days, in Eftalou you can hear the bass booming from the Turkish discos on the other side.

It's entirely true that Lesvos is loved for its great nature. Besides the petrified forest, some monasteries and picturesque villages it has nothing else to offer except for its pure and beautiful nature. Besides its beauty the landscape has great variety: from green high and steep slopes with little waterfalls to rough and barren mountains, from large areas full of olive trees, from whispering pine woods to enchanting chestnut woods, from beaches with black pebbles (Golden Beach Eftalou), from private little beaches at the end of a bay to the long sandy beaches of Vatera and Kampos. Besides that Lesvos is a paradise for people who love flowers (especially those who are fond of orchids), the island is also a mecca for birdwatchers. In the spring many migrating birds stop on the island to rest or to take refreshment in the wetlands and the saltpans of the gulfs. The bible of the birdwatchers, 'Birding on Lesvos' by Richard Brooks, numbers over 300 species of birds you will find on the island.

The island is loved by walkers during spring and autumn, although still not many organizations have taken up the island in their offerings. I don't agree that the island is praised for its happy crowds. Of course you will find some in the capital or in the places where the tourists go during the summer. Molyvos, Petra, Anaxos, Skala Kaloni and Skala Eressos do offer a lot of cozy restaurants, shops and terraces in the summer. But the island should be praised for its quietness. Even in the midst of high season in August you will find relatively empty beaches and plenty of tavernas where the owner welcomes you still in the Greek traditional way.

Today on the island north of Chios nearly all the tourists have left. Also the sardines have gone elsewhere. Now the fishermen go after other fish, shrimps and shellfish. The olive trees have recovered somewhat thanks to the heavy rains that fell in the last few days. The summer dust is washed away, the rivers and wells thirstily fill with water and the much praised nature also recovers from the long dry spell.

If you publish a magazine about Greece, you would think that the editor has some knowledge about the Greek islands. Especially when this island finishes in fifth place in a readers Top Ten, an island that is the third largest in its country, an island that's known for one of Greece's best poetesses ever, that is known for its sardines and that produces the best Greek ouzo. I'll keep it a secret that the Lesvorian olive oil can easily be compared to the Cretan olive oil...

Copyright © Smitaki 2007

Sunday, 14 October 2007

"Gods behaving badly"

When at the end of the summer the fires raged through the Peleponessos, the help only went smoothly when the fires reached the holy sites of Olympos, the mountains where the Greek gods used to live. Journalists from all over the world flocked to write about it and the site will be the first one to be cleaned up.

But what will the gods do at Olympos now? The population of Greece is 99% Greek Orthodox and they haven't believed in the Olympian Gods for ages. The temples are only useful to earn money from tourism and the country is full of chapels and churches that are built in honour of one of the many saints who are also woreshipped.

The English writer Marie Phillips made a successful entry to the literary world with her first novel 'Gods behaving badly'*. According to Phillips the twelve Olympian Gods have since 1665 lived in the north of London, in Hampstead, in a big house that's falling apart.

Artemis, goddess of the moon and the hunt, is a professional dog walker. Apollo, god of light, music and oracles, earns some money as a medium in a show on a lousy television station. Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love, has a sexline. Her son Eros secretly discovered God and is hiding his wings under his clothes. Ares is the god of war and he looks upon it that in the world conflicts keep on happening so that wars still exist. Hermes, god of commerce and messenger between the different gods, tries to mediate in thier rows. He's also the one that brings the spirits of the dead to the door to the underworld of Hades, which is at an underground station in London. Dionysos, god of joy and wine, runs the nightclub 'Bacchanten' and produces his own strong wine. Athena, goddess of wisdom, is the diplomat of the family but lapses regularly into slyness. Zeus, god of the earth and heaven, is growing old and senile and has become dangerous because he's no longer trustworthy with his lightning. His wife Hera, goddess of the family, keeps him shut up in the attic and tries to look after the rest of the family.

But it's not an easy family. The gods argue over household chores and they bicker a lot. Nobody is really happy with life in London. They've known better times. Apollo is even a very naughty man. The story starts when Apollo asks a woman in the street if she will give him a blow job. She refuses and Apollo makes her into a rare Australian Eucalyptus tree. Artemis, while walking her dogs, discovers the poor woman transformed into a tree and gets so mad that she makes Apollo promise on Styx (the goddess of the underworld river) that he will not kill any humans in the next 10 years.

Aphrodite also has to settle something with Apollo. She makes her son Eros help her with the revenge, threatening Eros to punish him in front of his beloved pastor. Apollo has to fall in love.

The arrow of Eros causes Apollo to fall in love with Alice, a cleaning woman. Alice will not survive this love, because Apollo cannot behave himself, so that a big disaster threatens the whole world. Artemis decides that something has to be done and sends Alice's friend, Neil, to Hades and Persephone in the underworld to claim back Alice. Just as Orpheus once did for his Eurydice. Orpheus nearly made it, but at the last moment he looked back and that's why Eurydice had to stay forever in the underworld.

'Gods behaving badly' is a really entertaining book. An original story and written very light-heartedly. For people who have trouble remembering all the stories about the gods, it'll be a handy exercise in remembering who's who in the world of Greek gods. Because nobody believes in those Olympian gods anymore, their powers are decreasing, but Phillips gave them very funny characters.

It's a nice idea that the gods of Olympos not only left their mountain, but also Greece. And that Zeus became a little senile, is so obvious when you look at the changing climate.

While the streets of Athens have been flooded several times, while everywhere lightning was striking (not injuring anyone), here on Lesvos only the electricity poles gave off sparks above a very dry landscape. For days they were forecasting rain and clouds were gathering around Lepetimnos. For days I turned off the electricity when going out, in fear that the first lightning would blow up my computer. For days the clouds disappeared and Apollo made sure that the sun gave us beautiful autumnal days. It was sultry and warm, the air heavy with water, but not a single drop ever reached the ground.

On Saturday clouds were rumbling the whole day around the mountains. In the evening heavy thunderstorms besieged Turkey. In the north of the island we had a wonderful sight of this sound and light show. Finally after midnight the floodgates of heaven opened above the north of Lesvos and the heavenly rains touched the dry ground.

But I'm afraid the rains were too late for the olives. They're small and wrinkly, most of them have only a stone and no flesh. With the first signs of winter a lot of them fell off the trees. All of this might be thanks to Athena who's too busy with her household in Hampstead. She should have been nicer to her father Zeus, so that we could've had more rains. And Demeter, goddess of agriculture, probably spent all her nights at 'Bacchanten'. Lesvos is going to have a very bad olive harvest this year.

We'd better spring Zeus from his attic room in London. We could house him in Molyvos castle. They're restoring the old place so they can make sure that the castle is adapted to Zeus geriatric needs. And then Zeus can prevent temperature drops like we just had: from 27°C to 11°C. It's suddenly winter here! Or do we have to thank Apollo for this? Maybe he had a rough night with a woman and forgot to put the sunset on time. Anyhow, for Apollo there are enough women here on the island. It's the island of the Greek poetess Sappho, which means that women of all shapes and sizes come to the island.

For Dionysos I know of a very nice nightclub by the sea that's for sale in Skala Sykaminia. And it would be a challenge for him to make a new brand of ouzo. Artemis can take care of the boars that are released around the Lesvian Olympos. And she can set up excursions for bird watchers. Aphrodite can start a sexline here in English, for the tourists. And she could start a school for kamaki's (Greek Don Juans), because they're threatened with extension. And Hermes could make sure there'll be more ferries and that they run on time.

So there's plenty for the gods to do here on Lesvos and I'm sure they'll be so happy here that Athena will get the time to look after the millions of olive trees on the island, along with Demeter.

If we could make the gods come to Lesvos, we could also have plenty of rain. Look at London, where it often rains cats and dogs. And well, whenever Apollo changes a woman into a rare Australian Eucalyptus tree, that wouldn't be so disastrous. It'll just bring more tourists to the island...

*Marie Phillips - Gods behaving badly, ed. Jonathan Cape, London.

Copyright © Smitaki 2007

Monday, 8 October 2007

A fistful of money

I sometimes ask myself how it must have been when the Greeks had to change their Drachmas into Euros (the Greeks call them Evros). One Drachma is about 0.193 eurocents. To make it easier: 500 Drachmas is about 1.46 Euros. You're already having problems calculating this?

The word Drachma comes from the ancient Greek 'dratto', which means 'to take'. Around 1,100 BC a Drachma meant a fistful of money, which was at that time 6 metal sticks. People who do remember the modern Drachma know that at that time a coffee would cost 150 Drachma or a meal about 1500 Drachma. Anyway, everything was a big number of Drachmas.

When the Euro came the Greeks had to go back to very small numbers. Seldom will you see something that costs 1 Euro. Maybe the price of a bottle of water will be less than 1 Euro (but it depends on where you buy it). Amounts in eurocents are only found in the supermarkets, where they have checkouts to do the calculation.

Well, in Holland, about 2 Guilders (2.20 to be exact) were the same as 1 Euro. That's about half and it wasn't that difficult to calculate Guilders into Euros. Where you paid 1 Guilder, nowadays you pay 1 Euro. That's very sad, but pretty convenient. In Greece however they got lost in the numbers. They'd prefer to ask 150 Euros for a coffee, but even they can see that 150 Euros is too much. 1.50 is a very small amount, so they'll charge you 3.50...

Whenever you buy on the street, or in restaurants, the amounts are in whole Euros. All prices rounded up, of course. So you buy a kilo of beans for 5 Euros and a kilo of apples for 2 Euros. No, the Greeks haven't changed: everything goes by a fistful. Whereas it used to be cheap to buy in the street, nowadays you will find better prices in the supermarkets.

A cab driver in Athens was probably thinking of fistfuls of money. For a journey of 5 kilometres he charged his German customers 978.88 Euros! So beware of Athenian cab drivers. The above mentioned cab driver was arrested.

Here on the island of Lesvos people also keep dreaming of the big numbers of Drachmas. When you ask an old Greek how much a piece of land will cost, he'll answer you with a dizzying amount of millions. But that will be Drachmas. The old people still have problems with recalculating. The young Greeks make a profit from it. In Molyvos I know more than one plot of land that costs over a million. But that's in Euros.

Real estate's a funny business here on the island. In the north there are only a few real estate agents, but everything is for sale. In Molyvos a lot of restaurants are for sale. But next year they'll all be open again. They ask such huge amounts of money that only a fool would pay it.

There are also many houses for sale here in Molyvos. Most of them cost more than a house in Amsterdam. And we're talking about old houses in a bad shape. Last week a friend of ours heard that the apartment that she rents is up for sale: 200,000 Euros for a sitting room, a bedroom, a kitchen, a lousy bathroom and two tiny balconies. For that money you could build yourself a huge mansion here on the island!

Some time ago we went looking at a house on the Gulf of Kalloni. We were received in the usual hospitable Greek way by the owner. We'd heard that the house was 200,000 Euros, a price that locals thought far too high. When we asked about the price, the owner confirmed that the house was 200,000 Euros and that the garden would be 50,000 Euros! Well, I thought, he dares. "But.." he added a bit later, " I don't really want to sell it, it's my children that do...".

And that's the way it goes here on the island. In fact they don't want to sell, only if there's an idiot that wants to give them the kind of money they'd win in the lotto, then certainly they'll take the money.

This craziness mostly concerns Molyvos and its surroundings. There they see the big money flying in along with the tourists. Elsewhere on the island, especially in the less well-known villages, you can still find houses for some ten of thousands of Euros.

I was surprised to see on the internet that the hotel Arion was also for sale. Well, everybody knows it's for sale, but everybody also well knows that whoever buys it will have to completely rebuild the place. On the internet there were pictures of the hotel from the eighties, when the pool was filled with water and the buildings still new and prospering. The poor buyer that fancies this hotel with restaurant, bars, a pool, everything in a prime location in Molyvos, will be disappointed. The hotel is now in ruins.

Without much fuss (well, there were some stormy days with grey Dutch skies, but no rain) we went from the summer into the 'small summer' and the island is still very dry. A lot of restaurants and shops are closing their doors to the handful of tourists still roaming through Molyvos.

Next year more pieces of land will be sold, where they will build houses. The Hotel Arion will be more in ruins and the restaurants for sale will probably reopen their doors. The same owners of restaurants, pensions and hotels will welcome you again, even if you heard through the grapevine that their businesses were for sale.

Angelo from restaurant Anatolie in Eftalou will also be there again. Although he has now closed his restaurant in order to demolish the illegal part of his building. This was forced upon him by his neighbours. One day Angelo says next year he is going to sell sandwiches, lately he is saying that he is going to bake cakes. But whatever Anatolie will look like next year, for sure you will always get an ouzo there for a few Euros.

Copyright © Smitaki 2007

Monday, 1 October 2007

Monumental planes

Whenever a tree is not for bearing fruit here in Greece, it stands there to give shade. The most popular shade trees are the planes that you see everywhere, especially in the village centres. Not an unusual tree, but more than one can be rather special: their shape can be strange and the older trees are often hollow. They can reach an age far greater than 200 years.

The most famous plane tree in Greece is on the island of Kos: the plane of Hippocrates, the plane under which the founder of medicine taught his pupils. Hippocrates lived from 460-370 BC. This means that the plane would be some 2400 years old. Which is nearly impossible. It's said this tree, with a crown about 12 metres wide, is some five hundred years old. Which is still an impressive age. According to the internet encyclopedia Wikipedia, it is the oldest tree in Europe.

It's said that in the little village of Aegio, in the north of the Peloponnese, there must be an older plane tree. The Greek travelling geographer, Pausanias, who lived in the second century AD, already mentioned this tree. That's why this tree is called the plane of Pausanias. The archeologist Heinrich Schliemann in his book about Troy and the Peloponnese (1868) thought the plane to be about 1450 years old. The plane tree watches over centuries old fountains in Aegio. But its age nowadays has been brought back to some 600 years. Still, what an age!

Another famous plane tree is only known from the story that Herodotes wrote about the Persian king Xerxes. When Xerxes conquered Greece he found a plane tree so beautiful that he hung its branches full of gold. He left a soldier to watch over the tree.

If on Lesvos you walk up through the ruined village of Chalikas, you will find the path that goes all the way to the top of Mount Lepetimnos. On this path just after the village you will also encounter some huge plane trees. It's the most enchanting part of this path, when you walk under these magnificent arboreal giants that hover over a ravine. They don't need gold to be beautiful. The curved branches that reach for metres into the air, the thick knots like elbows, the hollow spaces that play with the light, they form such a statue that no sculptor could ever better. With their enormous branch like roots the trees cling to the sides of the ravine.

You will find a similar ravine just behind the village of Sykaminia. There more than one plane has toppled because the walls of the ravine slowly collapse when in winter gushing streams search for a way down. The fallen trees are still very impressive. However the planes above Chalikas will still endure. I should think they're centuries old and I wonder what you could see if these trees had had a hidden camera. Do we then see lovers, or families having a picnic, do we see wicked people that hang someone in the tree, do we see murders in the wood, persecutions? Or will you see only shepherds and their sheep enjoying the cool shade of the planes and the crackling sound of the fallen leaves? The path is not a busy highway and that's probably the reason why no conservationist organization ever found the trees.

There are quite a few plane trees in Greece that are considered protected monuments. Besides the above mentioned planes of Pausanias and Hippocrates, you will find protected planes in Scholari, Geroplátanos, Vavdos, Kambotades, Arta, Heraklion, Veria, Nafplion, Dimitsana, Valtos, Fthiotida, Lamia, Ilia, Azogirón, Messinia, Thessaloniki and Kalavryton. Then there are also some protected olive trees, a century old grape vine, a pine tree, an oak, a palm tree, a beech forest and last but not least the petrified forest of Lesvos.

Although I'm not sure if petrified trees are still to be considered as trees. But one thing is certain, they will be far older than any of those trees mentioned on the list of protected trees in Greece. Most of them are sequoias and pines and they are millions of years old.

Lesvos also has a famous plane tree, although not mentioned on the list of protected monuments. It's the plane of Theophilos in Karini. The Lesvian painter Theophilos lived from 1873 to 1934 and for some of this time he lived in the plane tree. When you are standing in the plane tree you can imagine that indeed it was possible to live there. A small bed, a table and a chair and still enough space to move around. To survive Theophilos also made wall paintings in tavernas, as he did in Karini. His work, that consists of naive paintings, depicts life on the island of Lesvos.

In Molyvos there also lives a kind of Theophilos. Stelios is his name and he works at the castle, where before the rebuilding (the rebuilding is not so quick, the castle is still closed for public), he had a small room full of his paintings. The merry scenes are all about life around Molyvos. Stelios might not be such a colourful man as Theophilos, who liked to be dressed in a kilt or in old soldiers clothing. Stelios is a special man and certainly one of the more colourful characters of the village.

Last week we met him when he was wrestling with two big bags. Being curious, I asked politely what was in the bags. I thought it might be feta and when he offered me something I couldn't resist the offer. Fresh feta is far better than the feta you buy in a shop. Instead, when I got a bag from the shop where we met, he took an enormous freshly slaughtered leg of lamb from one of his bags and put it in my plastic bag. When he saw my startled expression, he took another big piece of meat and put it in my bag...

Painters don't live in planes anymore. Stelios, who is also an archeologist, paints nearly as well as Theophilos. In the future he will be known as 'The Painter of Molyvos'. But he probably won't have a plane tree named after him. Maybe it'll be the castle: 'The Castle of Stelios'. And certainly the castle is already on the list of protected monuments.

Copyright © Smitaki 2007