The Hora's were built many centuries ago, mostly to afford protection against the pirates that controlled much of the Aegean, on-and-off over the years. There's a long history of seafaring here, but that's another story. What would happen when an unknown ship showed up in the harbour was that everyone retreated to the Hora to wait for them to leave. If they didn't leave within a day or two, they would send an old woman down to ask what they wanted. If she came back alive, they knew it was ok and they could relax and get back to life as usual, trading, tending to their fields and goats or fishing boats.
Part of the protection against attacks was to build close together with narrow lanes. There is also limited room on top of a these steep hills so everything got packed together. Today, there's usually a narrow switch-backed paved road up to the base of the Hora, but from there on, you're walking up steeply stepped lanes. It's all very charming and laid-back. Most all the buildings are masonry to keep it cool in the hot summer. It's also very windy in the Aegean during the summer and stormy in the winter, so everything is built very well.
Still today as has always been, donkeys are used to get supplies, food, water, building materials, etc. up to your home. Being a donkey operator is an old and respected, not to mention invaluable business. They can also make an extra buck giving silly tourists a ride. They're lovely animals, gentle but strong, true beasts of burden, a long standing companion to humans. Imagine donkeys loaded with bags of concrete and piles of brick trudging up narrow steep lanes. They're always grateful for an extra carrot you might be carrying in your pocket.
Anyway, back to that menu. It was unusual as it was thick and packed with poems and quotes, mostly in Greek. But the first one was in English by a Greek philosopher. God (I mean Zeus of course) knows there have been many Greek philosophers over the centuries, but this one is more contemporary. In our travels, I find it all so interesting to try to understand how the local people think, what's important in their lives, their views on life and death, and the daily trials and tribulations they deal with.
So, here's the quote that says it all:
" The Hellenic way of existence denotes 4 types of behaviour.
- To accept the truth that derives from nature, not the quasi-truth that the human mind creates
- To live according to morality of knowledge, not the molarity of superstition
- To deify beauty because beauty is as mighty as your mind and corruptible as flesh
- And what is most; to love man. How else! Man is the most tragic being in the universe."
On June, 1st 1998 Liantinis disappeared, leaving a letter to his daughter, Diotima, where he stated his decision to vanish by his own free will after a lifelong and step by step preparation. As it was natural, his unexpected disappearance, evoked public opinion and led to many controversial speculations. After seven years (July 2005), Panagiotis Nikolakakos, cousin of Liantinis, revealed to Diotima the crypt in the mountain Taygetos, where her father layed,as has been instructed to do so by Liantinis himself prior to his "departure".
And so goes life (and death) in the Greek islands, year-after-year, century-after-century, which of course brings me to "Bougotsa". Bougotsa is a Greek speciality, found in most all bakeries in all the islands. It's a cream filled, usually semolina custard wrapped in phyllo dough and baked to perfection. It's usually served hot out of the oven, if you get there in time that is. When you're too late getting to the bakery in the morning and it's all gone, you tend to think about Dimitris as you walk away, shoulders slouched over, and moist eyes. But when you do make it, well, life couldn't be any better and you think Dimitris spent too much time in the city and not enough in the island cafes and bakeries.
So, that's the news from EQ, where the winds are fair (somewhere on the planet), the seas calm (on very rare occasion in the Aegean), and the crew content (that it's finally cooling off after 3 years in the topics).
With Equanimity and Joy,