Since I have returned to Paros I have taken two excellent, long and hot walks. On Saturday I walked from my apartment in Paroikia along the back roads to the northern tip of the island. This area is called Kolimbithres and is host to three lovely beaches, an Eco-Park, a famous monastery and a fascinating boatyard, if that is your sort of thing. The whole walk was about 12 km ( about 7.5 miles) and I covered the stretch in about 2 hours. I had a quick swim and began hoofing it back to the bus stop. It really has been very hot here and even though I stayed well hydrated I felt it was alright to take the bus back to town. I tried some hitchhiking but there was no luck until a nice English couple pulled over and gave me a lift in their converted postal van. An excellent day of excersise. It was wonderful to experience the aroma of all the cedars and pines baking in the blazing Greek sun-a combination of resin and marble dust. Lovely.
Today I went for another long walk, this time from the small hill town of Lefkes, over the hills and down to the beaches on the eastern side of the island, namely Kalogheros, or as many folks call it, the Clay Beach. This is due to the massive clay deposits that make up the walls facing the sea and the nearby island of Naxos. You can smash small bits and mix it with seawater to form a paste and then spread it over any exposed skin. After letting it dry you dive into the water and wash it off. Your skin feels silky and smooth after having this spa treatment. To think that some people spend thousand for this elsewhere! It was wander through the parched, golden hills, dotted with old windmills, tiny churches, monasteries and miles of ancient olive groves. It is fascinating to think that these groves have withstood hundreds of years of raging wind, rain, snow and heat and are just now coming into their prime as fruit-bearing trees. I stopped by a small mountain spring I know of off the track and behind an old church and found the cold water flowing from the spigot at a healthy trickle in this hot, dry August. It was lovely to see the stone walls running through the vista. Some of them are also centuries old but are identical in many ways to those constructed more recently. I took some pictures and, once again, stayed hydrated. Once I made it to the beach I jumped in the water and swam about a bit then headed back to the bus stop in Prodromos for a leisurely ride back to Paroikia.
All of today’s journey began this morning in the upstairs ‘Big Room’ at the school. John Pack (and Gabriel Pack), our director (and son), had set up the projector so we could observe the landing of the most recent Mars rover ‘Curiosity’. There was coffee, homemade doughnuts and palpable excitement. It was a tense thirty-five minutes and, for me here on Earth, a reminder of how important these excursions can be, if not for humanity then at least for the idea that there is something out there that can still hold our human fascination. After that I began my own small journey, from one place to the other. Maybe not as pioneering a trip to Mars, but essential in re-establishing my own sense of place on a swiftly turning planet.