Thursday, 10 November 2011

Let the water fall

The tree root sculpture at the waterfall of Klapados

Last week on November 4th there was an article in the Lesviot paper Embros from Chrisidou Vangelio, who wrote that a group of nature lovers stated that there were more than 14 waterfalls on the island worth visiting. The environments of Parakila, Skoutaros, Mesotopos, Vatoussa, Mandamados, Antissa, Pelopi and Eresos seem to be particularly rich with waterfalls.

When you look on the internet for the waterfalls of Europe, there are only two named in the whole of Greece: the Edessa waterfalls, about a 100 km northwest of Thessaloniki and the Rihti waterfall in the Rihti gorge on Crete. So Lesvos should be proud having at least 14 waterfalls, with the biggest one close to Eresos (Krinilou).

I had to laugh a little when it was mentioned that the nature lovers went to the Island’s government to enlist help in getting money from Europe to promote the waterfalls and make them accessible to more visitors. That means that paths and roads would have to be built. But in this crisis I wonder if Europe will be happy about a Greek island asking for money; as they already provide the whole country with money. Or could there be somewhere in Europe a special jar with money for waterfalls for which they can apply?

But it would be totally crazy to provide money to make new paths and roads to these waterfalls, while the normal roads are falling apart and there’s no money to repair them. As it is, next year there may no longer be a road to Eftalou, because when we get the next real heavy winter storm, this road will disappear into the sea.

Don’t get me wrong, I do wish everybody could visit these waterfalls. You can in fact visit them now, if you are in good shape and if you know where they are. But it’s quite an adventure to reach them over slippery donkey trails that sometime seems closer to steep gorges.

Last week I was at the Klapados waterfall. The waterfall itself is impressive but also the place itself is rich with water and great plane trees that come in all forms and shapes. It also has an astonishing silence and I can’t imagine being too happy visiting this waterfall along with a busload of tourists exclaiming ah’s and oh’s while their children are loudly splashing in the water. So if they make this waterfall accessible to more people I demand that there be a sign: SILENCE!

The problem of the waterfalls of Lesvos is not only that they’re not easy to reach, but there is not always water. The once so impressive Pesos waterfall near Achladeri has – since I visited it two years ago – been reduced to a small trickle, because farmers have illegally siphoned off water somewhere above the waterfall. The Pesos waterfall is actually the only one on the island with direction signs and to be reached by a lovely path with wooden handrails. And now even in the winter water barely trickles over the steep cliffs.

The Krinilou waterfall’s problem is that the area has been shut down by the owner. A few years ago some vandals (yes, indeed, we sometimes have vandals on the island) damaged his paradise so much, that you can visit it now only on appointment.

Not all waterfalls have enough water in the summer to show their falling streams. The Klapados waterfall is dry in the summer and if just a little rain falls in autumn, it can take some time before you can enjoy its beauty.

This is the case now. The Klapados waterfall is dry, because the two days of rain we have had since last summer were barely enough to get the water flowing. However, the steep wall of rocks where the water normally falls, now shows its splendid sculpture of tree roots that try to find the water among the rocks.

The drought is also the reason that there are no mushrooms on the island this autumn. Last year you tripped over them and now you really have to visit the most humid places on the island in order to find those popular p├Ęperites or peppery milkcaps (Lactarius piperatus) and the bright red coloured Caesar’s mushrooms (Amanita caesarea).

So this group of nature lovers that want to promote the waterfalls of Lesvos should first start a rain dance and then a money dance.

Now I still have ten waterfalls to find, because I have only seen the one close to Mandamados, and the Pesos, Klapados and Krinilou waterfalls. So I also have to dance – a dance around the island – to find them this winter. I’ll keep you informed.

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

@ Smitaki 2011

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