Extracts over some of my last few days touring around the Mani.
Steep ride from Kotrona to Areopolis. Call in to bookshop to search for more detailed map. Editor of ‘Mani’ (a well known local Magazine) and friends give me hero’s welcome (Apostolis has been chatting to them) can they use my cartoon for their front cover? Presented with red rose and impromptu photo shoot.
A very laden couple with 2 young children and bags everywhere are cycling, yes CYCLING around the Mani…. What are they thinking of?!
Stay put for the night so as to leave early for
mega ride over pass, taking in more remote hilly villages. Coffee in the home of aged Stellos whose father was killed by the communists aged 44. Wonderful photographic Mani family history on his kitchen walls. Heartfelt hugs of farewell. Gruesome torture scenes in sweet little Drosopighi chapel depicting purgatory, plus tortoise wanting to view.
Burgi’s visit. I do early 200m climb to see pre-christian structure and take breakfast on top of the world. Forgot spoon but removable lens from sunglasses makes excellent substitute. 54 minutes up, 7 minutes down!
We lie on the beach ALL DAY!
Notice that the evening octopus didn’t seem to digest too well.
Unable to resist her generous offer of a lift up through Sparti and to ‘top’ so that I could fly down through the Neda Gorge to Kalamata. ( and ride from there back to Kardamili/Agios Nikolaos to spend last days in Greece here)
Noticed stomach uncomfortable on the unexpected upwards hairpins… Who put them there? (Think I pulled muscles in the unfamiliar act of swimming previous day.)
Back in Kalamata, waves of peculiar feelings and then that awful realisation.
A very nasty night throwing up with surprisingly bad leg cramps. Burgi angel on the other end of a phone in case. INCREDIBLY Grateful for beautifully clean toilet. Daughter Ruth texts naturopathic advice.
Decide I am well enough to stagger to bus as not up to 30 miles in heat or hills. On my way to the bus station Yannis from ‘Kardamili Bikes’ spots me and greets me with ‘you are the kindest woman I have seen in 150 years’…. yet another travel angel! Not well enough to flutter eyelashes despite all the charm!! Loads me and Sir G. into his van and collects bundles of sweet-smelling-hay-fever-inducing chamomile en route; then passes his shop in Kardamili and takes me all the way to my new room ( well, not quite ALL the way ) in Agios Nikolaos. Beautiful clean white sheets; quiet; sleep. Small meal to celebrate return of health.
I am back on the west side, in this lovely fishing village. ‘Civilisation’. More ‘People’. A feeling of both wistfulness for the utmost simplicity of life on the inconvenient ‘other side’ and thankfulness for the convenience of life here. In equal measure. The gorgeous weather, the sound of the sea and the beauty of the landscape is unaltered.
I am looking again at the little mountain villages, suspended unevenly in the dark like the twinkling beads of a pretty necklace threading themselves between the peaks and the sea and wondering how on earth it was all possible. Even walking upstairs feels like hard work right now!! now I understand there are no grey feelings about this special, inspiring and rare piece of Greece.. you love it or… Well I LOVE IT!
Is it still raining at home? Well I’m not coming back then… shan’t-won’t-can’t…!