Monday, 11 August 2008

Summer hits

We are at the height of the summer. Athens has emptied out and most Greeks have gone to the seaside looking for some cool air. Not that you really have to find cool places: the north wind, even in the middle of August, brings chilly nights. July was the coolest for many years and the endless heat waves that last year aided the dramatic wild fires on the Peloponnese, have until now stayed away.

What cannot be said about the wild fires? Last week Lesvos was also on the daily list of wild fires in Greece. Last Wednesday, between Molyvos and Petra, opposite the Karuna complex, flames suddenly flew to heaven. The inferno didn't last long, but more than one inhabitant of the new Molyvos quarter Molywood (around the complex of Milelia) got a bad fright. Flames were fuelled by the wind and climbed quickly up the mountain. It was clear that they tried to reach over the mountains, towards the harbour at Petra. However it took the fire brigade, helped by a plane and a helicopter just a few hours to stop the flames and extuingish them. In the nights the flames tried to restart another fire, but they were smothered before they could grow into a threatening fire. In the morning the fire was declared to be over.

The next night however in the same area another fire broke out, this time near the reservoir. The fire was quickly brought under control.

Many rumours circulated about the cause. One said it was a farmer who repaired his tractor, which burst into flames, another said it was an arsonist, another said it was a stupid farmer burning some rubbish. It was said that the second fire was started deliberately (now with the investigation a week later, it's certain that there's some crazy person setting fires because these two fires were followed by another 4 smaller fires in the same area. The firebrigade is now on the alert day and night).

You'd better try to forget the fires and enjoy this busy summer month. Friday, the 15th of August, will be Annunciation Day of Maria, after Easter the most celebrated Holy Day in Greece. Days before pilgrims start flooding into Agiasos to pay their respect to the virgin Maria of the famous Panagia-Church in the middle of the village. And if you don't like crowds you'd better stay away from Petra as well, because its white Maria Church on the rock is another favourite destination for pilgrims.

Molyvos is also now full of people. Untill the middle of August the village was pretty quiet for the time of year and all the shopkeepers were complaining. This was not due to the municipality, which offered a full cultural programme, in case people were not satisfied with just sea and sun.

Besides some dance and theatre performances and several exhibitions it's the concerts at the castle of Molyvos that are the highlight of this programm. Last Friday night it was Panthelis Thalassinos who tried to play the stars from Heaven (a Dutch expression meaning playing a wonderful show). It was a cloudless night and the centuries old castle tried to hold its breath, but a merciless cold northwestern wind made the scene freezing cold and more than one in the audience was battling the cold instead of listening to the music.

A pity because Thalassinos' song 'Apo tin Petra sto Molyvos' is an evergreen for Molyvos. It is about a walk going from Petra to Molyvos and then barefoot on to Eftalou (from the first cd of the double album 'Stis kardias mou t'anoichta'). Another song, Karavia Chiotika, is about (ironically enough) the northwestern wind and boats coming from Chios that bring memories from a lost love of a Chiotic girl with a sweet mouth smelling the mastic. Thalassinos' music is wonderful. His music is somewhat melancholic, it mostly avoids the popular Greek rhythm of rebetica, but the music definitely makes you yearn for the Greek islands.

More traditional but popular songs will be performed at the castle by the female singers Melina Aslanidou and Rallia Christidou on the 23rd of August. You probably won't understand all they will be singing (although with Greek songs it's easy: most are about love), it will be an experience to sit under the stars in an old castle, listening to magical music.

The biggest summer hit however was the movie 'Mamma Mia'. In the whole of Greece and in the open air cinema of Molyvos tickets sold out pretty quickly. Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan (the James Bond actor) make the show, along with the merry songs of Abba and stunning Greek landscapes. These Greek images is why the movie is so popular here in Greece. As well as in an English studio the movie was made on the islands of Skopelos and Skiathos and in Pillion (mind you however, some of the beach scenes are filmed in California, Laguna Beach).

Finally last night it was mother nature that produced an impressive spectacle of light, sound and water. Yesterday early evening the show started above Turkey with a lightning show between the clouds. Hours later thunder joined in, first with a little rumbling but soon with thundering kettledrums. Rain started falling and with some breaks the whole spectacular event ran into the morning of the next day. Thanks to this loud concert I only got to sleep when daylight set in. Then I'd already spread tons of towels under several windows to keep the house dry. With the sound of a steady toc-toc of a leak that sounded like an out of tune triangle I finally slept...

Copyright © Smitaki 2008

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