Archive | Cyclades stone walls

Kythnos and a change of plan…

–There is a lot to see and do on Kythnos and by the time I leave on Friday I will have seen and done most of it.  Superb hiking, archaeological sites (mesolithic, Byzantium, 19th century mining…), good eats, friendly folks…The weather was so-so for the first two days but then the sun came out, the winds shifted and there was fine weather for getting lost on the donkey trails and photographing more stone walls than I knew what to do with.  I am pretty much saturated with walls at the moment.  I have a feeling I will finish up the roll I have in my camera today and be done with this island for the time being.  I have one more long hike to do tomorrow (12 km) so perhaps I will try to use one more roll.  Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.

–I found an excellent little taverna on the port of Merichas.  Typical family-run, spitiko, without all the frippish tom-foolery of frankish cuisine.  I ate roasted goat in lemon sauce last night; grilled fresh sardines the night before…local, mild feta on my salads.  I’ll go there again tonight.  Funny thing…when Kostas, the owner’s son, heard I was from Paros, he told me that his cousin Giorgos worked in a fish taverna in Paroikia…Hmmm…I know Giorgos well!  We had a good time and then Kostas called Giorgos and he and I had a quick chat.  I love these alliances.  So Yalos Byzantio is my spot.  I dine there again tonight.

–My lodging has been excellent.  My small studio overlooks the harbour of Merichas.  The ferries dock just a few hundred meters away and the ins-and-outs of tourist sailors in their small rented sailboats make for interesting comedy-drama.  Only some seem to be good sailors.  The rest look like they are trying too park their cars.  Oh well…I wish them all the fun in the world.  The Aegean is a lovely place to sail.

–I am tired.  I am tired of living out of my luggage.  I will have a lot more of that this summer so I suppose I should get used to it, but for the moment…

I left Paros on May 10th, after a four-day general strike which threw all my plans into the air.  As a result of this strike, I was forced to use one of the High-Speed ferries that runs around the Aegean.  I hate these things for many reasons.  The only other time I was on one was in 2006 and I picked up a terrible respiratory bug just by being shut inside the interior for several hours with no fresh air.  True to form, by the time I reached Evia on Thursday the 12th, my throat was scratchy.  By Saturday I was on antibiotics, decongestants…sick.  11 days later I am finally off the meds.  I need to go home.  I feel great, but it is time to sit on my own terrace, sleep in my own bed…

As luck would have it, the same ferry that would have brought me to Syros, continues on home to Paros.  So I will leave Kythnos Friday morning and be home in time for tea…

Pezoules, walls and and Agios Anathasios, Kythnos, 2016

Pezoules, walls and and Agios Anathasios, Kythnos, 2016

 

 

–JDCM

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Travel notes, May 2016…Kea…

–The short ferry ride from Lavrio to Kea is, despite its single hour, quite remarkable.  As a student of 20th century Balkan History I had heard of, and read about, the concentration camp island of Makronisos, but I had not realized it lay so close to the mainland.  As we slowly sailed past I could see the ruins of buildings and structures…political prisoners, social dissidents and members of the military suspected of being “infected” with dangerous ideas were sent to Makronisos during the Greek Civil War (1946-49).  For a more detailed and moving account of this time, read Kevin Andrews’ The Flight of Ikaros: a journey into Greece.  Ironically, I re-read this book only a few weeks ago…

–Kea is a rugged place.  Smaller than Paros, yet it feels bigger.  The Port of Korissia is small and around the port are a number of meadows heading inland, but only for a short distance.  After that it is a long climb to the chora, Loulida, perched along the ravine.  The streets in the chora are steep and car-free.  It is pretty little town and the archeological museum is supposed to be one of the best in Greece.  It is, however, only open on Friday from 08:00-15:00 and so I will miss it.  Kea reminds me of a smaller and greener Naxos.

–The flora of Kea is very much the same as on Paros and many of the other islands with one lovely exception: the pedunculate oak.  For centuries, Kea supplied the tanners of Greece, Rome, Venice, etc… with acorn caps.  By the end of the 19th century this practice had been replaced with less expensive synthetic processes so the acorn was not needed and the thriving industry collapsed.  Thank God they didn’t cut down the trees!  You know what…go here instead.  These folks know more about it than I do and are a big part of the new sustainable Kea.

–Kea is still a thriving agricultural island and this is evident when one hikes along the well used donkey paths and other by-ways.  Pommes de terre are numerous!   The xcero-lithia that crisscross the island are lovely, beautiful, crafted…some are so old that the moss and lichen that cover them are dissolving them, turning their hard edges round and soft.  New wall construction is in the old fashion, so the technique is being preserved.

–I will have shot three rolls of 35mm film when I leave on Friday as well as  fair amount of digital.  I have been hiking a lot although I did rent a car.  It is a good idea so at least get up and out of town into the interior before setting out walking to a cove or mountain top.  This time of year it is quite empty outside the port, so it has been rare to see anyone else but the occasional goat.  Most of the others I have seen are, I think, French and English.  I cannot be sure.  Athenian day sailors like Kea too.

–If I had brought my mountain bike, I would have rented a car anyway for the same reasons as above.  Mountain biking on pavement is a drag and bad for the tires.  Best to load the bike into a car and drive inland, park, and bike on the dirt roads.  For road biking, anyone who wants constant interval training on hills, come to Kea.  The fun never ends.

–JDCM

Kea walls and oaks                  Kea walls 2

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Temperate climate change…

There are only a few days left until the Autumnal Equinox and it feels like it here on Paros.  The crushing summer heat has fled, and in its wake the days have become clear and sunny, with cooler breezes.  The tourist crowds have thinned considerably and our island is slowly being returned to us.  There is nothing quite so lovely as the change of seasons.

So much has happened in the past 4 months.  After my father died things changed.  A re-assessment of my life, goals, raison d’etre…Once again I am looking into what makes me ‘happy’.  Life, for me at least, is no longer about hitting myself with a hammer while thinking that the next blow wouldn’t hurt.  Time to stop doing what I do not like, when at all possible.

I am also moving house.  I have everything boxed up and ready to go save for my clothes, some small amount of kitchen stuff and what art is hanging on my walls.  I move at the end of October and assume all of my own bills and rent.   That will be a relief and a freedom I have missed.

boxed up and ready to go...

boxed up and almost ready to go…

Here are some still lives from a friend’s back terrace…

Blue Vase, 2015

Blue Vase, 2015

Ladder and Anchor, 2015

Ladder and Anchor, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My header image is from a short bike trip I took to Antiparos recently.  It is a reminder of two of the things I love to do and have been neglecting the past few months.  It is also a reminder that William Henry Jackson may have had his mules but I have my mountain bike.

Yashica and Bike, Andiparos, September 2015

Yashica and Bike, Andiparos, September 2015

That’s it.

–JDCM

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Spring in the Aegean…2015

It has been the wettest and coolest spring that many can remember.  Since March there have been more clouds than sun, more rain than not.  Yes, this may seem acceptable to friends in more northern climes, but around here it makes people nervous.  Paros is, for the most part, an arid climate and our primary agricultural gifts (olives, grapes, figs, tomatoes, etc…) demand that the soil be dry and the water stop falling  from April to October.  I am hoping that by the middle of the month the rains will cease.

I have been printing a lot and I have 30 pieces so far for my exhibit next fall.  Another 20 and I can begin editing, then selenium toning, then off to the framers they go.  I will most likely use a local company here in Paroikia, but I must demand a better frame quality.  The most recent batch were inexpensive, lightweight and thinly lacquered stock and some people have brought this to my attention.  I will be a little more struct with this next exhibit.  What have I been printing?  Old stuff, new stuff, 35mm, medium format.  A little bit of everything.

I am going to invest in some archival storage for my collection of portraits that are still in their frames, in a box, in my bedroom, in my flat.  I should get them out of this situation and into something more manageable.  Plus, it will free a cubic meter of living space.

I have been biking a lot lately, which I need to do.  I have been working on my hills, getting advice, pumping the pedals.  There is an 18km mountain bike race in a couple of weeks that winds its way from Marpissa, through Piso Livadi, along Molos, through the valley to Glyfada and back to Marpissa.  I rode it yesterday with some very fit pro-am folks and we rode it in 1:16.  This included taking two wrong turns and not really going too fast.  I hope to ride it in an hour.  It is a solid goal.  Other than that, I have been out on the road bike and digging that, getting ready for the Circle of Paros road race on June 6th.

Orthodox Easter is next Sunday.  I will view the proceedings at Panagia Ekatontapiliani for Friday and Saturday nights, then at midnight on Saturday will break the fast with some friends at a local taverna!  Paidakia, kokoretsi, patates, salates…Yum!  Then the next day there will be a big feast at a friends home with whole lamb on the spit, chicken, sausages, pork chops…Yum again…

Two days later I hope to be swimming in the very chilly Aegean for my first swim of the season.  I feel a need to be anointed in wine dark sea

–JDCM

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Milos, day 6…

–I had forgotten how posh Milos can be.  It is easy to avoid if one so chooses.

–From the top of Prophitas Ilias (748 m) the view is spectacular.  Even on a hazy day like today, the archipelago was in full view.  Kimolos, Polyagios, Santorini, Sifnos, Serifos, Folegandros, Paros.  This was all around me.  Far to the south I could make out a faint, long shape:  Crete.

–The FIAT Panda is, perhaps, the finest car in its class ever made.  A real gaidaros…a real donkey.  I have mentioned this in other posts already.  A big ‘thank you’ to Niko’s Rental in Adamas for allowing me to change my rental agreement not once, but twice.

–I have purchased my ferry ticket back to Paros on the ‘Aqua Jewel’, leaving Sunday evening at 18:00 hrs.  This leaves me with almost three full days left for my biking, hiking, swimming and photography.  Not always in that order.

–Yesterday I had just finished up an arduous 10km hike, ending up at a lovely beach on the west coast.  As I lay on the sand I suddenly realized I did not know what day of the week it was.  I had to laugh.

–The last time I was here ( June 2012) I only spent 3 days.  Being here so long has allowed me to really get into Milos.  I have discovered that despite the heavy mining and cosmopolitan aspects, it is as rugged and wild as they come.   Wild goats still scamper up and down the rocky crags.

–Tomorrow is a photography day.  My goal is to finish one roll of AGFA in my Voigtlander and start another.  Easy-peasy.   Rocks and wood.

–JDCM

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Notes from the mainland…

October 30, 2013

–The weather is still hot during the day but the mornings are cool so I wear a sweatshirt when I leave the hotel.  By 10:00 I am in my t-shirt.  I have driven through hundreds of orange groves in two days.

–The ruins in Ancient Corinth are vast and the typical jumble.  The Temple of the Corinthian Apollo is Doric.  Lots of Roman stone.  St. Paul was here.

–Akro Korinthos, 3 km up the mountain from the site, is massive.  I have walked the walls.  Easily as large as the outer walls of Dubrovnik…5km if I remember correctly.  Walls built on walls…Mycenean, Byzantine, Ottoman and Venetian.  Everyone knew a good site for a fort when they conquered it.  Impregnable and all but hewn from the living stone.  Few people there today.  Some workman digging a new drainage ditch.  They are stone-faced when I say “kali mera.”

–I have seen more Golden Dawn graffiti here than anywhere in Greece.  Lots of spray-painted Greek meanders…this is a ubiquitous symbol.  It is on my bathmat in the hotel where I sleep.  It’s on tourist swag.  Now it means something else, something terrible.  They have taken a design everyone knows as good and twisted it with their broken thinking.

–Nafplio is not Paros.  The mainland is not the Kyklades.  There is a roughness here, less open than the Greece I know.  Fewer smiles.  Gruff.

–Epidaurus tomorrow and Schliemann’s second site at Tyrins.  My last full day here and I want to make the most of my little car.  I might brave the winding mountain road to Ermioni for lunch after visiting the theater.

October 31, 2013

–Epidaurus, Tyrins…quiet but there are still buses and tourists.  Mostly older groups and I seem to be shadowing a school group of American kids. They were at my hotel too.  Quiet as mice.  A nice thing to experience.  Corinth yesterday and the theater today.  Also the Nafplio museum…

–The winding road to Epidaurus and grove after grove of olives and oranges.

Epidaurus: ancient script.  Leica M8, f/2.8, 1/2000, ISO 320

Epidaurus: ancient script. Leica M8, Voigtlander 28mm, f/2.8, 1/2000, ISO 320

–A group of Russians at the theater…testing the acoustics with pebbles.  Wonderful.  Tyrins on the way back to Nafplio. Not much to see but an observation:  the technique used to build the large Mycenean walls is the same as the wall building I have seen all over the Kyklades.  No walls here, nothing crisscrossing the landscape. The Mycenean civilization was large.

–Blue domes are now terra-cotta tiles.  I had forgotten that about the Peloponnese.

–When I was a boy, about 5 or 6, my grandmother gave me gifts from her time in Greece: a small model of a Greek house with a windmill, a komboloi, an Evzone figurine.  She planted this seed.  She was here.

–I am still enjoying my short DoF exercises.  The stones, greenery and blue skies are perfect for this.   Shooting at f/1.8 to f/4 only…

JDCM

A column section from Epidaurus.  Leica M8, Voigtlander 35mm Nokton, f/2.0 at 1/4000, ISO 360

A column section from Epidaurus. Leica M8, Voigtlander 35mm Nokton, f/2.0 at 1/4000, ISO 360

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Updates from the road…

I am in New York.  It is hot, humid and lush.  It is hard to describe the quantity of water on the land and in the air.  Back on my Parian home the heat is the same but the arid conditions make for a more pleasant experience.  Outside my window the trees and foliage are dense green, impenetrable without the use of a machete or  chainsaw.  I can hear it grow, sucking up moisture from the rich earth.

 

A view from my mother's front porch, Ancramdale, NY

A view from my mother’s front porch, Ancramdale, NY.

 

I am back in America to visit my family, and only for a month.  If all goes well I will be back on Paros on August 1st ready for the final push towards my solo exhibit of large format portraiture.  It has been almost two years since the project began and I am looking forward to the event.  I am nervous, yes, but in anticipation, not dread.  I know my work can stand on its own as a complete body.  I also know that whoever views it will bring something unique to the experience.  I am also currently designing a new website specifically for the portraits.  I will launch this site after the show opens on August 18th.

For the time being, I will visit with my elderly parents and my dear sisters.  I hope to drop in on a fellow student and alumna of the Aegean Center, but time and schedules will determine that visit.  I am able to catch up with good friends and compare notes on how our lives are faring.

I am experiencing a good amount of culture shock here.  The cars all all huge and the food seems heavy to my palate.  As I sit here at my computer I sweat.  Just sweat.  I am not even exerting myself.  There are no sounds of ferries docking, motor scooters riding down the narrow streets of my neighborhood.  No smell of the sea.  I cannot walk to my favorite cafe.   It is supposed to rain tonight and perhaps that will ease the heat, but it also promises high, hot and humid conditions for tomorrow.  I am not whinging, just noticing some differences.

Todays post has a new header image.  It is a section of wall behind my mother’s house.  The stones are slate and granite, green with growth.  So different from the Kykladic structures of which I have grown so fond.   Different, yet the same.  It serves the same purpose:  it is a retaining wall preventing the downhill slide of earth after the rains.

The skies have suddenly clouded over.  There is a low rumble of thunder in the air.

JDCM

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Return to Paros…

As the ferry rounded the northern tip of the island, opposite Naoussa, and I saw the lighthouse atop Cape Korakas, I knew that I was home.  I leaned against the port gunwales, waiting until we had passed the Cave of Archilochus, and then I went back inside the old ship and gathered my things.  I was the first person downstairs in the garage bay.   I walked off the NEL Lines Aqua Jewel with a feeling of deep relief and happiness.  I was home, back on Paros.  I allowed the noises and smells of a busy Greek island port to fill my senses as I walked back to my flat.

That was two days ago and since then I have taken care of essential business, mostly laundry.  I have come back to my favorite cafes and eaten in my favorite restaurants.  All is well with the world.  In other words, life continues and changes in small and big ways and I find myself, as usual, listening more than talking during intense discussions with friends.  My grandmother always said that was a character trait that would serve me well.  We’ll see…

I do have a lot to say, but verbally it seems that many others say it so much better than I, so why paraphrase?  Many years ago I was an avid musician.  I wrote music, songs, lyrics, played in bands.  I did this for many years-decades.  I had a lot to say then, or I thought so.  In the end the words became dark, sinister and negative.  The bands moved on without me and I dropped the music, along with a few other pastimes.   I can still play the instrument, but the desire to express with sound has left me.  Just part of the Great Circle, I suppose.  These days I have a quieter way to explain the world.  I find it much more calming, and good deal lighter in actual weight.  It lets me stop, look and breathe.  The shutter clicks.  I feel that this is where I should have been all along.

The island has become the color of worn brass and oxidized aluminum. The craggy, yellow-brown contours are set off by the blue sky and the deeper, indigo sea.  White buildings dot the arid landscape,  like so many chunks of salt-lick.  The tomatoes are rich and sweet and there is fish to savor in a nearby taverna.  In two days I leave Paros again, this time for America.  I will visit with friends and family, eat American food and have my senses bombarded with different sights, most of them very green and wet.  It will be humid and there will be rain.

En route I will stop in Athens.  While I am there I will visit the Benaki Museum and see a large photography exhibit by Constantine Manos.

Now I am rambling.  It is hot and I need to add some images to this post.  These are from my recent island hop.

JDCM

Folegandros

Folegandros

Folegandros

Folegandros

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Images from the past weeks…

I leave Folegandros in a couple of days and return to Parikia.  I have noticed that wherever I have stopped–Amorgos, Sikinos, Folegandros…I always seem to find a high vantage point, usually the Chora or a high mountain.  I peer north, searching for my lovely home and I see it.  Paros.  It is there, close at hand.  I am thinking like this now.  I am somewhat homesick.

I have rented a small car.  Today I will take it easy and drive around and take pictures.  I saw some areas along the road during the bus ride yesterday that demand attention.  Plus, I want to give my feet a rest.  No hiking today.  Maybe tomorrow and then to a beach.  I want to get home, but I am no hurry to get through the day.  Plus, at 1PM the sun is far too bright to be of any use to me.  I will wait until 3PM or so and head out.

JDCM

Short DoF image of some wall detail on Amorgos

Short DoF image of some wall detail on Amorgos

 

 

The Aspropounda Lighthouse on Folegandros, looking south.

The Aspropounda Lighthouse on Folegandros, looking south

Detail of the door of Episkopi, Sikinos

Detail of the door of Episkopi, Sikinos

Detail of some wall work on Folegandros

Detail of some wall work on Folegandros

A kouros statue found on the island of Naxos

 

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Folegandros…first impressions…

As I departed Sikinos this afternoon, the Meltemi came in gusts of Force 6.  The air was hot, the sand flew in my face, the boat arrived, I boarded.  An hour later I disembarked at Folegandros.  If Santorini didn’t exist, vacuuming up 90% of the foreign tourists, Folegandros would be the place.  As such, the island has secured all the charm of the Cyclades without the vast throngs that clog the narrow streets of the ancient Minoan hub.  Thank God for that.  I have been to Santorini and was not impressed.  Here it is different.  The restaurants are all open and have large, taverna-style menus on chalkboards outside.  Tonight I will eat in a place called ‘Chic’, recommended by a friend in Athens as a good place where they serve a specialty of the island, roast lamb with prunes.  I have already walked past and it looks very inviting.  They also have rabbit, one of my favorites.  I am sitting in a small café called ‘Pounta’.  They have rabbit on the menu too.  This is a good sign for the next few days.

The reports on hiking are all positive.  I will take advantage of this but I will also take it easy.  It’s not a race and I am not trying to prove anything.  There are some good beaches and I have a book to finish reading.  The stone walls here are lovely.   My observations on the bus ride from the port to the Chora (where I am staying) have already whetted my appetite.  I will post some images when I have them.

For now I finish my espresso-freddo and look forward to a night of good food and rest.  Tomorrow I take a short walk and head to the beach.

JDCM

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