Friday, April 29, 2016

Holy (or Great) Friday

This is the holiest day of the Holy Week, a day of mourning. Later today a bier will be carried through the village, bearing the image of Christ. Yesterday, according to tradition, eggs were dyed red. From ancient times the egg has symbolized renewal of life and victory over death. Later today some of us will handpaint designs on a few eggs in the Western tradition for tomorrow night's midnight celebration of the resurrection.

Yorgos, Theo's brother, joined John this morning for a Tavli competition.

Painting Easter eggs.

Lighting to celebrate the procession.
The pathways are scattered with local herbs
that radiate an aromatic scent when the procession passes by.

Falafel, writing and The Druid

Yesterday, after morning coffee we drove north to Aegiali for a swim and lunch. The beach was deserted but windy so, once again, I avoided the sea. Instead we visited Falafel, a restaurant opened by two friends last year. What an eclectic menu! We chose spring rolls (three different varieties), quinoa, fruit & veg salad and shakshuka, an Israeli breakfast dish with poached eggs on a bed of tomato sauce with local misithra cheese on top! Yumhhh! Noki and Panos have created a great atmosphere in their place. As we were leaving, Panos invited us to join the Easter celebration at their restaurant. They are roasting a lamb on the could we say NO! Now we have four invitations for Sunday so we have decided to make the rounds...a taste of goat here, a bite of lamb at the next place, loukanika sausage at the next and a round of raki at the last!

Our writing group gathered last night to share our writing and it was wonderful. What an amazing feat...most of this group writes in English when their native tongue is either  Greek or Turkish! I am so impressed. Our youngest member, 9 year old Tuna, shared two stories and then we heard from Anna, Kalliroi, Junior, Christina, Lin, Theodosia, Buket and John. For the next gathering we will also be joined by Theo II (emergency visit to Athens for a cracked arm bone), Elena, Penelope, Theo and Mata. Junior (from Leicester, England) illustrated his poem, Tuna also made a graphic story. Amorgos seems to bring out everyone's creativity.

Junior giving Tuna a drawing lesson.

Around 10:00pm we adjourned to Jazzmin Cafe/Bar for a nightcap and to visit with friends before heading to bed. Of course the evening lengthened without us being aware of the time. That happens quite often around the Easter period...there are so many friends and acquaintances to greet!

Andonis, "The Druid", is the DJ again this year.
He was playing oldies when we arrived 
and promises some salsa music for the next few nights.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Another day in Chora

It has been a sad time in Chora with the death of an 85 year old Amorgian on Sunday, a friend's broken arm on Monday and another friend taken by helicopter this morning after a bad fall last night. If these things do happen in threes...we hope that is the end of it!

On the bright side, more friends and family members of close friends continue to arrive every night on the ferry from Athens. They brought delicious spanakopita and cookies as well as the promise of future meals made with loving hands that have created Greek food for many years.

Buket and Tuna took us to see the piece of land that they own on the windy side of Chora. It is easy to imagine a beautiful house there some day. Now the land is covered in grapevines which they will preserve and share with friends.

While John was napping I drove down to Agia Anna for a swim and discovered too many people and too little beach! When the water is a little rough, the beach disappears. BOO! Next week I will have possession of this swim site again after all of these people leave!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Another group meal

It was probably our last group dinner until after Easter...except for the midnight soup on April 30th.
There were ten of us at the main tables and another five in the corner 
for a delicious pesto pasta dinner with roasted mushrooms and kale salad!!

We were happy to see many familiar faces appear in the bar as we ate.

Elena and Theo II enjoyed the evening!

Branding of the Maxwells on a Greek island.

We told everyone to handle us with care!

Kali Kardia

After being on the island for three weeks we finally drove north to Tholaria 
for a lunch visit to our favourite place, Kali Kardia.

The curious pause outside
but only those who enter and stay
will breathe in the past
postcards, nescafe, batteries and cookies
light bulbs, sponges and fairy dish detergent.

Kiria Plito curls her body over a potato peeler,
 molds herbs into kefthedes
and rinses horta in gnarly hands
with a welcome smile that clings to two teeth.

Dust covered tavli games beg for players
while mirrors capture moments in history,
painted gourds and aging instruments.
Before super markets
this is where villagers visited
for groceries and gossip.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Aegean Writers' group

We gathered our writing group this morning for the first sharing. It was wonderful and diverse. Much to our delight we had Tuna, a special nine year old from Turkey, join the group.

Tuna is a creative prodigy! Amazing!!

Tuna read his story to us in Turkish and his mother translated it into English.

Elena is a "Poet Extraordinaire" and Junior was a very appreciative audience member.

Theo is a film maker with a flair for dramatic prose.

Theodosia documented the occasion and provided support.
She will participate at the next gathering.

John and I were thrilled to be part of this special group.

We will share again on Thursday evening, our last chance 
to include Buket and Tuna before they head back to Istanbul.

Chora, Amorgos

One of many interesting views in Chora.

Sunset colours reflected in the clouds above Chora.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Yesterday and today

Yesterday morning I joined Mata for coffee in her apartment and later we walked up to Buket's place to open the windows and air it out before her arrival from Istanbul tonight. After another visit at Jazzmin we walked through the village and checked on progress at Bayoko.

The tables, coated in fresh orange paint,  were still drying outside.

Fabio was adding some touches to a wall mural inside.

New pathway paintings are appearing every day.

Last night's ferry brought a ton of newcomers to the island.

Tuna was already at Jazzmin this morning when we arrived.
He interrupted his homework to give us hugs!
Buket, his mother, was still catching up on sleep 
after a flight from Istanbul and a 9 1/2 hour ferry trip to Amorgos.

Junior had a meditative moment over his tea this morning.

John took advantage of a shady bench to catch up with his journal!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sunrise and paint...paint..paint

The wind is howling in from the north today, whipping through Chora and forcing us to return to several layers of clothing after a week of warm days. The sun is still shining but the clouds are racing across the sky, chasing each other to the south.

We were awakened at 5:45am by Kalliroi as we had promised to drive her to Aegiali for the ferry trip to Athens. She hopes to return before Easter. It was a 70 minute round trip so we were back in bed by 7:10am!

Chora at sunrise from the road to Aegiali.

Jazzmin is being painted inside and outside this year. 
They are busy at work with paint brushes and rollers.

Mata carefully painted around the stones at the bottom of the cafe...

...while Theo II was up a ladder covering the top portions...

...and Theo was behind the bar ...painting the awkward bits and pieces
while continuing to make teas & coffees for customers
who are sitting politely outside in the wind!

Meanwhile, at Bayoko, everything is outside while the inside is painted.
Fotula is attempting to keep Ellie from leaving fingerprints in all of the wet paint!

At the pizza parlour everything is finished and looks great!

Tonight I am making dinner for our group...quinoa, curried veggies and green salad. Some of the prep will take place in our small apartment kitchen and the balance will be cooked in the underground kitchen at the bar. Our group is still limited to around 10 diners but that will soon expand to at least 20 people as many friends and family members arrive.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Our painter takes a coffee break!

The village is becoming blindingly white! All of the exterior walls and the edges of the pathways have been painted white. 

Pantoums and eggs

For some reason, I forgot to post this one from several days ago!!

Last night's pasta dinner was delicious. It was the first time that I had tasted freshly harvested coriander! Yummmh!!! The spinach salad was so good too! We ate outside on the patio in the warm evening air. After dinner we did some writing and several of the writers decided to "pantoum" their poems.

Kalliroi trying to figure out the "pantoum" pattern.

Our landlady arrived with eggs for us this morning and a piece of her handmade soap.

Wandering through the village it is always interesting to see the different numbers on houses.
It is our understanding that during every census, the numbers change.

Agia Anna

Swimming again calm and peaceful at Agia Anna beach!

Looking down from the parking area.

Halfway down the path.

From the end of the path before venturing onto the rocks!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

walk-swim-movie & music

Apparently Junior and Theo II discovered that they were soul mates and communed until 5:30am with Natasha at the bar. Fortunately we were in bed by 11:00pm and missed the revelry!! I did an abbreviated power walk before breakfast and my eye was caught by this beautiful bougainvillaea.

It was another hot day and another visit to Agia Anna for a swim. There were two French families at the beach with naked children running over the rocks and jumping into the sea.  After I returned to the apartment I made a successful attempt at "the art of siesta" in preparation for the late night Easter celebrations that will begin in 10-12 days.

Menus are appearing as the tavernas prepare to open.

We drove to Vroutsi for another documentary film tonight that was shot on Amorgos. Some of the people in the movie were in the audience. The theatre was full...about 75 of us to share this special occasion.

Afterward we had dinner at Parva's and listened to some live traditional music. 
One of the performers(the fiddler) was also in the movie.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

First swim and Junior's arrival

I did it! I really did it!...first swim of the year! It was cold and refreshing. There was no one at the tiny beach of Agia Anna...just me and a couple of goats. It is very isolated and I was nervous about being alone in the water so the first dip was very short. After my baptism there was time to lay in the sun and enjoy the sound of tinkling goat bells before Leanne arrived for her first swim at Agia Anna. Leanne is one of the young doctors on the island. When she plunged into the sea without hesitation, I decided to join her for a second longer swim. It was wonderful!!

We sat in the sun after and chatted. I learned that the young doctors who come to Amorgos for a one year residency are on call 24/7 for the entire year! This is ridiculous! Apparently the administrator is reluctant to make changes to this tradition.

When I returned to the apartment I discovered that my reading glasses were missing. We drove back to the beach and checked the parking area and the glasses. I am hoping that Leanne found them. What will I lose next?

Theo returned to the island on last night's ferry and decided to make spaghetti putanesca for dinner. It was extra yummy! I ate mine and half of John's!!! Before dinner we had a surprise arrival...Junior arrived from Leicester! So good to see him and listen to his accent. He brought all of his drawing materials and will experiment with colour during his visit. Bravo!!

Theo II was working on a script after dinner.

Friday, April 15, 2016

April 15th

We watched another rhythmic and graceful class of Capoiera Angola today.

Fabio ended the class in a short lesson with Fabio's daughter

The girls entertain themselves during the class.

It was another warm day. Tomorrow is a swim day for sure! Seriously! No doubt! Even if the Aegean has not warmed to summer temperatures...I will swim tomorrow!...maybe!!!!!

As we were walking back to our apartment tonight I wondered how to describe our pathway home. The moon was shining on the stones that have felt thousand of feet burnish them to a lustre. The monastery priests passed us with hearty greetings of "good evening!" A taverna was lit with candles and soft traditional music filled the square from their speakers. Down the path we could see the silhouette of an old woman with a cane making her way home from church. Children played around her. At Jazzmin, our friend's cafe, Mata was entertaining three children from the village. Her dog slept at their feet. We never fear for our safety here at any hour of the day or night.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

More drawings & the iPad

OMG! Suddenly it is warm! No need for jackets and sweaters! It was even warm enough to consider a shower this morning...felt so good in comparison to stepping out into a cold room. It was also very tempting to drive to Agia Anna for my first swim...but...I need a few more days of warmth before diving into the Aegean. Kalliroi is doing a load of laundry for us. It should only take an hour in the sun to dry.

We received word that John's iPad has arrived on Amorgos so he will be able to send emails and play poker from his own tablet. Our concern was the cost of transporting it by courier but, apparently, delivery will only cost 7 euros!! be confirmed tonight.

Once again I explored the village for drawing sites and managed to execute three drawings.

This is the view of Chora from one of my drawing sites.

The stairs to Kastro are behind me.

The sweet shop is repainted and open for business!

Wildflowers are everywhere!

Trefunos, Mata's dog, naps while we sip coffee and tea.

Kalliroi is preparing tonight's dinner...a pasta dish that we will gather to share around 8:00pm. John is very excited that he has been invited to play bridge with three islanders. They will set up a schedule and place to meet.