Sillyness is sometimes a great ally when dropping exhaustion appears to come out of the blue. I have keeled over in Kotrona and am relishing this pretty little bay which has everything I need and a hill just big enough to stop me from attempting to go anywhere until my legs are no longer on strike!
I have been so touched by ‘things Greek’ and so mystified by the tower houses of the Mani.
Yesterday I really got to see one, thanks to Apostolis (his son is called Socrates) who quickly made a phone call and introduced me to an extraordinary Cornish woman called Dina.
Dynamic is an understatement. For the last 17 or so years she has almost single-handedly been renovating her beautiful tower house in a little village just around and above the next bay. At a dizzying height, with stunning views, she clambers over rocks and boulders just to get to her front door.
A family with five children lived here before her, with the 2 and a half year old falling into the cavernous water cistern (mercifully dry at the time).
Clothes washing in a marble, roughened and hollowed out rock is sheer heaven, looking out to sea, as you might imagine….. her elderly olive trees supply her with enough personal oil and only a few days ago, windows that fit, open and close, have just been fitted. She is painting them ‘Santorini Blue’.
Built into the rocky hill, the fault lines in the boulders are vertical, and so when there is a barbecue below it looks as though the great side of the hill is spewing smoke too! I climbed gingerly up the exterior ladder to the very top of the tower, where there are still rocks loose enough to hurl down on any foe (“don’t lean on them” warned Dina) …. it is a very long way down!
Somehow she manages to haul building materials from the road to her door, breaks her own rocks and has learnt a lot about masonry. Heavy equipment can take up to 2 days to winch in, or if it’s furniture, a team of Albanian men once RAN with her table and TV along the Kaldemiri (donkey track)… And then rather meanly pinched her marmalade….
I was treated to a wonderful cup of English Tea from the Denby ware and was completely speechless with respect for such an extraordinary woman for whom this precious piece of the past and the sheer beauty of the place are priceless. Wonderful WONDERFUL, thank you Dina.
In a nearby village, within the last generation I gather there was a point blank shot-gun honour killing and a lady green grocer was garroted. I think I got off lightly… it was a night of mosquitoes and the next morning, a face FULL of bites, at least 26 of which were on the end of my very red nose… this despite my Scottish Widow impression with a head net and mits…
They are settling down nicely, but have been kicking out a lot of heat!
With the most affectionate of intentions, dear Greeks, I bring you my ‘What to do in a Tower House’ cartoon. I hope you will like it, and that you will see yourselves or your past in the various little scenes.