Saturday, August 30, 2014

Food and the Beach

Food, Epirus, The Ionian Sea:

Antipaxos Island



Agianaki Beach 


The River Stix (Gliki)

Loutsa Beach


Iced Cappuccino at Preveza Port

With good food and beautiful scenery it's always nice to have a good book!

                     THE NIFI     AND    YOUR OWN KIND

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Walking through Margariti's Old Village

If you ever have a chance, I highly recommend you take a walk up the mountain of Margariti and visit the old village which is where the original village used to be. A long time ago, living next to the low-lying roads or close to the sea would be near suicide in an area that was invaded often. It was just safer to be up higher so the residents could see who was approaching long before that person reached the village.

This picture shows some of the old houses that dot the mountainside. 

As the political climate became more stable, the houses were abandoned by their owners for newer structures close to the road at the bottom of the mountain.  The photo also shows the result of a gigantic shift in culture because the houses are hidden by vegetation, a fairly new addition to that landscape. The cultural change is that of collecting wood to burn. Thirty years ago there were no trees. Absolutely none. The women scoured the mountainside to collect every piece of wood available, every branch, every twig, so they could cook and heat the homes.  That meant the mountain was brown and naked and the houses were completely exposed. Also, the weather was hot and dry. Today, because of the modern convenience of indoor stoves, ovens and heating, these green trees have been able to grow freely, so now they hide many of the houses.  But they also throw moisture into the air so that the weather has a hint of humidity at times and every afternoon a blanket of clouds forms over the mountaintops.

Clouds in the summer! This was unheard of only a few years ago. Sometimes they shower down a bit of rain, but rarely in Margariti.

The old village roads are worn dirt paths. You can see how narrow they are as they were meant to be traveled by foot or by animals but certainly not cars. Their narrowness gives a sense of a society where its inhabitants lived closely together and were dependent on each other.

The houses were made of stone.

The floor was built with wood and the tiled roof was put on wooden beams.

This photo shows a typical 3-floor home. You can see the ridges where the floor used to be.   The ground floor was always the store room and the main living quarters were always on the top floor.

Naturally, wood is not as durable as stone. As soon as it decayed, the roof and floor fell inward.

The roof tiles that weren't collected and used as materials for the newer homes are mostly lying broken with other debris inside the stone structures.

The main floor at the top of the house had large rectangular windows.

These beautifully constructed arches, if  you can imagine them in a well-maintained lived-in house, gave the homes a look of elegance.

Many of the houses are surrounded by a gated wall. There would have been a giant wooden gate in the arch, most likely with an ornate door knocker. But today these yards are often used to house animals, like goats or sheep, so the current gates are usually made with whatever material is available and with those functional purposes in mind.

It's very interesting to walk among these houses in the old village.  There is a sense of strolling back in history while a clear view of Modern Margariti just below, gives you a delicious sense of being in both worlds simultaneously.

However, the old village continues to disappear at a gradual pace as nature slowly reclaims her stone. So, I recommend you visit those grand homes, sooner rather than later.

The house that Chevi raised her children in was one of those from the old style.  It was refurbished over several years, piece by piece as her children became adults and were able to make those improvements. You can see it if you ever visit Margariti but if you can't make it,  just look on the cover of THE NIFI.

I'd love to hear from you!