it was my name day and I was planning a relaxed, unambitious post about the wonderful things an English couple who live in Ikaria do with pebbles from the beach, when all of a sudden the famous Jamie Oliver, after his visit to the Chiapas last month, landed on the island to look into our cooking and shoot scenes for his next show!!! I am still and always a bad cook (my only improvement has been towards safety but unfortunately not towards taste) so don’t be afraid, I am not going to go crazy about recipes. I do think, however, that the island has a wealth of natural, healthy foods and natural and healthy ways of cooking. But I am not going to go crazy about that either. This was planned to be a relaxed, unambitious post, and a relaxed, unambitious post it is going to be. I’ll just push Nik and Stef’s stones a bit to the side and make room for a few pictures of Ikarian food from Jamie Oliver’s instagram, plus a few shots with heavier stuff taken in Ikarian restaurants by adamansel52, a ‘food tourist’ who toured the island last month. Move your mouse over the photos to read the descriptions. Scroll down to find a surprise. Nothing to do with food! It’s just another Ikarian summer drawing near!!!
______[click for Greek]
In this entry I am going to speak about a friend who lives in Ikaria and I am going to tell you about her work.
Those of you who are interested in our small island world can’t but have noticed a young woman who appears in many pictures from Ikaria on the internet, all of which taken in wild natural settings in both summer and winter. This is Xenia Apostolopoulou and it’s about time for you to know who she is and what she does in our island.
Back in 2008 like many young people at that time, Xenia escaped from the chaotic and depressive urban frame of Athens and she moved to Ikaria. She wanted to try to grow roots in a place that seemed unspoilt, a natural place where she could feel at home. We know it, not all of those young people were lucky. After the last tourist is gone the island folds up to itself in autumn and this can be tough for strangers. But Xenia had three big advantages. Those were her love for nature, her patience against odds and her understanding for people. So she has made it! Now she is a full resident and she is very happy about her new life. Everybody who knows her is very happy about it too!
Ikaria also proved good for Xenia in another way. She has found a job, two jobs to be precise, in the two fields that the island boasts of plentiness: bees and mountains. So our friend became a beekeeper and a mountain tour guide. But if almost anybody can learn and keep bees, so to speak, even on the roof of a house, to get to know the secrets of a rough mountainous island, to walk and learn all the footpaths, to catch the spirit of the land, to know the history, understand the traditions, and above everything, to be able to communicate all this to visitors so that they see and feel a portion of what she sees and feels in Ikaria, is not an easy thing that anybody can do. But Xenia has done it, she does it and she does it well. Here is how everything started.
The most important thing is to knock at the right door. 😉 Weeks only after her arrival Xenia joined the newly-founded Mountain Climbing and Hiking Association of Ikaria and because of her love for nature and her experience in hiking, she was elected among the members of the board. Days later their first hike was to the mountain tops on the route we call ‘ridge walk’ or ‘transikarian trail». See the relevant entry in their blog (in Greek) and look at some pictures of her out there, On these rough but spectacular landscapes Xenia proved no green horn! 🙂
Many group hikes followed like the Mushroom Hunt in Myrsonas river and the first OPSikarian hike on my beloved Trail of the Elves where Xenia not only hiked hard with team spirit but showed a talent in photography of nature as well. Until finally, the following spring we discovered her inclination. During the first group hike of the OPS Ikarians in the upper part of Chalares canyon Xenia jumped and swam in the icy-cold river pools like a water nymph all in smiles!
Exploring is part of the job and Xenia, being a learner of Ikaria, was always a volunteer, like for instance in the quest for the forgotten Trail of the Lighthouse Guards at the island’s western end.
But what am I doing? 😮 This entry is badly planned! It will take me ages and pages to deploy Xenia’s story in the mountains of Ikaria! So let the pictures speak. I found them in this gallery at her profile in Flickr. One sees there nearly 100 photos of this amazing woman in rivers, on mountain tops, inside forests, taken while she is hiking, climbing, marking the paths (sometimes with her baby on her back!), laughing with friends, dancing in activist performances, leading groups, taking part in everything that goes on, sharing, making things better. 😀
As I said, today, after the first years of learning and exploring, Xenia works as a mountain guide. Some of you may have heard of her from the hikes and botanical course she does for the dancing and hiking groups of Ursula every spring and autumn. But most probably you have seen her at work in the photos of the hiking tour with the Czech photographer Zdenek Senkyrik last year. Currently, as her son Orfeas has grown up, she takes up more guided hikes as well as other activities in the nature of Ikaria in partnership with KANGA.
Unfortunately there is no space left for me to post their schedule in this entry so you’d better contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or through facebook and ask her to send you a copy. One thing I will say as a conclusion. At last somebody is doing in Ikaria what I have been asked to do so many times by friends and strangers since I started taking photos and writing about my island. I always felt awkard about denying for one more reason. Though it’s true that the island needs guides, I knew nobody who was reliable and professional enough to recommend. But now there is and it’s a very good one! A burden has gone off my back and I am relieved!
Xenia Apostolopoulou was born in 1975. Her father is Greek and her mother is Austrian. She spent her childhood in Austria, Germany and Greece. She was involved in homeopathy, botanical study and therapy, she worked as receptionist in hotels as well as guide in several Greek islands. She also worked for various NGOs in projects related to animal welfare and helping disabled persons. She has travelled a lot and she has lived in many places of Greece. Once in Ikaria she got various temporary jobs, until she decided to dedicate herself to apiculture and mountain guiding. Founding member and partner of KANGA, besides Greek, she speaks German, English and Spanish.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
♦ This is the *Angelolivada* (river pool of 😳 angelic // XD diabolic fairies) near Nas.
♦ This pool was my first introduction to the sweet waters of Ikaria several years ago. Then I got myself better shoes and found better places. But still when I see it I can’t help taking a picture.
♦ This pool is *heritage* (because it IS haunted and legends about lethal encounters with fairies survive to this day).
♦ This pool is a *sight* (seen from close, the fall is HIGH and the pool is BIG -even though it’s lost almost half its size from stones and earth sliding down from the road above.)
♦ This pool is *sweet water* (rare stuff in the Aegean)
♦ This pool is a *pool* (you can swim in it.)
It shouldn’t be left like this as if it was *nothing*. Yet it is. In spite it’s only 300 m. away from a small tourist resort, Nas. The beach of which is very small and unapproachable in high seas. To say more, it seems that people do their best to destroy it.
Yet the pool resists (because it IS haunted).
And Ikaria will probably always remain *an unspoiled island*, as the hotel & tourist promoter claims.
Unspoiled means perhaps that piles of waste and rubble, abandoned wrecked cars, forever unfinished contructions and weird contraptions everywhere, goats competing with earthmovers to *shave* the best places … for nothing … not for money …just for nothing …because someone had *small idea* and why not after all? All this for me is not *unspoiledt-ness*. It’s just *lack of communication*, *selfishness*, *ignorance* and *confusion*.
I wish we were a little bit *spoilt* into common sense.
Fairies can’t do all the job by themselves (+pay for beds+breakfast too?…)
Or perhaps they can; I wouldn’t know.
What I know is that
NATURE CAN’T BE WITHOUT CULTURE
(What we call *Nature* is a human invention, no?)
*NO CULTURE* or *WRONG CULTURE* = NO NATURE
«Sometimes I feel like a motherless child» again. (I was a motherless child)
Sometimes I feel I can’t return to *the crazy island* because there’s just the craziness and the fun is gone. But then again my heart is strong (unlike my mother’s) and the *good craziness* and the fun is in mE.
I’ll deliver… 🙄
(What we call *Nature* is a human invention, no?)
No I think not. It is what it is, completely indifferent to humanity, and so we destroy it instead of embracing it.
I have faith in you, since embrace it you do.
Friday June 16, 2006 – 07:45am (PDT)
To be honest El, we both chose to fall for a very compicated and difficult island and we suffer the consequences. How many times haven’t I told myself to fall in love with Mykonos/Ibiza instead. They are so easy like Lego and PlayMobil : white cubes laid on dry brown land and lots of (set up) parties with paid brazilian dancers…
But nooo ! Oooh, how deadly boring would that be !…
*Nature* is birth and death, both hardly conceivable. We see nature through culture. We used to have God to help us. Now we have to deal with it by ourselves. So culture becomes very important. But what am I talking about? Wasn’t it you who asked and received this genius answer about the mountains of Sezanne in southern France? His multiple paintings of the same and the same landscape actually saved the landscape. And we don’t have to discuss how heavy the building activity is in the South of France (no? -lol).
So go on being the Sezanne of Ikaria. Who knows? It may work.
As for myself I’ll go on digging and putting back the stones in place. Nail many signs too, so that you find your way and take your pictures.
P.S. good news ! ((: – I found an assistant – :)) It’s my 10 y.o. daughter. I pay her in ice-creams.
See her at work in my Flickr soon.
Friday June 16, 2006 – 08:58pm (EEST)
I knew of only one Cezanne’s «Montagne Sainte Victoire». The landscape could be anywhere in the Mediterranean, ok, but half of the results are Cezanne’s paintings. The rest are contemporary photos and other paintings.
(Any resemblance with Ikaria is purely coincidental)
That aristocratic *tall fat guy* Cezanne has really put a strong mark and actually saved that land -:)) He painted again and again the view from his villa and now the paintings have fused so much with the mountain (and the plain in-between) that nOoNe dAREs to touch this landscape!
See also : Wiki: Cezanne
I think they should teach this case in Fine Arts or Environmental Studies.
The tourist business (type «tourtour» -this is a village) benefited a lot and apparently many people find work. Cezanne has created a «tourist legend» too.
Is this *good machine», Nana?
Saturday June 17, 2006 – 12:44pm (PDT)
Bonjour *Paul(-ine) Cézanne* ! Comment ça va? 🙂
Oui, c’est une *trés bonne machine*. But people have to be informed and educated. And Ikaria is very unspoiled as far as this is concerned… 😦
Sunday June 18, 2006 – 03:14pm (EEST)
...as much I like the nomad backpackers, as much I like those people who have adopted and cherish only one particular place on earth. I can be a fancy tourist resort, a park, a block of houses in a town, just a street, a beach, a starved African country, a desert, a forest, a noman’s land, a wasteland. All these places for those people are *islands* : bigger than an average sized appartment, smaller than the earth, the ideal size for someone to have the illusion of ownership, or rather let’s say *control*, or at least a sense of *familiarity*..
Exactly the same as chimps, humans are territorial. Some are Abels (residents), some are Kains (nomads). I’m turning and tending to become an Abel these years. I’m learning to admire the residents. I found many people like that in Flickr. There is one that I like very much. Exactly like me who take only pictures of Ikaria, he takes pictures of only a forest, «Foret de Bouconne» in the Northern Pyrenees near the city of Toulouse, France. This forest is this man’s island, his isolation, (has become a part of) his identity..
There’s nothing spectacular or exotic about that particular forest. For sure it’s not Tolkien’s Fangorn. Oaks and beeches and mushrooms and streams and probably deer and wild boar as well like in the forest around Asterix’s cartoon village. It’s a European forest; how boring, how wonderful. I kissed and was kissed for the first time in a forest like this *; how commonplace, how unforgetable. But why?
Because if I kissed for the first time in Tahiti or in Brazil I wouldn’t remember it. It would be part of the setting, a *must do* thing. But I remember that kiss in that boring neat forest, because that boring neat forest is a part of my boring neat identity, my boring neat personality, my boring neat sense of «my own territory*. I kissed and was kissed in a place that I understand and I’m familiar with, the same as some others kiss inside the closet of their parent’s boring neat bedroom and yet the fact stays unforgetable.
There is another boringly neat and wonderful thing about the «Foret de Bouccones» : elle est geree par l’ association… e.tc.! It is administrated, managed by someone! Why the exclamation marks? Because such a thing as «management of a territory» (how illusive it may be) is completely unknown in Greece. As I walk now across other forests, on the «trail of the elves» in Ikaria, my boring neat personality revolts.
The *grouvalina* in me shouts back: «let it be, let it burn, let it be wasted, let it be unknown and be nothing. Nothing is ours. We’ll light a fire of the debris in the middle of nothing and dance naked around it.»
«Oh yes, great», the boring neat me says -all cool, » We shouldn’t forget to reserve special places in the forest for this.» How neat, how bureaucratic, how boring and disgustingly European (and *western* in general), oh, there’s no other way but management, I’m afraid.
->With holes of *unmanagement* (for my *grouvalina* to dance) -ok, I’ll permit many holes. And anyway, these holes are created by themselves…<-
* there is no photo of me kissing in that link, you peeps ! It’s just a photo of a crosspath.
** I found the second wonderful photo of the forest in:
It was by ‘zian’ ( http://www.agora-photo.com ) The original title is «Allee en automne – La brume s’engouffre dans cette allee de platanes. L’automne donne a ce lieu une pleiade de couleurs chaudes et envoutantes… «
Elle, I am going to come and see the forests of Ikaria, such as they are, in 2007, God willing if the crick don’t rise. Mainland Greece too and maybe Santorini.
Wednesday April 19, 2006 – 02:14pm (PDT)
«Good machine» this forest. It has the same shape as Naxos island. You are amazing Elenitsa. You can relate anything to anything. You are right. Good machines connect. I saw in your Flickrs that you have been exchanging flowers between that forest and Ikaria. Cute. «No island is an island» to paraphrase the well known «no man is an island». Do you agree?
Greg, for «crick» my dictionary writes something like «pain in the back of the neck». Ikaria has warm springs to cure this. I don’t like the surroundings and the facilities but they say they are good. Visit the woods and visit Santorini too. Contrasts from all points of view!! Hiker, eh? I saw your Flickr. Your country is BIG -:)) As a very cool friend of mine said once after he visited the States, «The US, oh, it’s exactly like Greece, only much bigger!» -lol
Thursday April 20, 2006 – 02:33pm (EEST)
- Simon G
(…enticed out of the forest and into Compose a comment…)
Eleni, I am honoured, charmed that you have visited The Forest with your rusty internet connection and seen so clearly into its managed heart.
If you were not escaping too many books I would say how your thoughts put me in mind of a book I love – perhaps you have read it – called The Other Side of Eden by Hugh Brody, a man who has spent a lot of time with various hunter-gatherer communities on the margins of our planet. Once the human species was all hunter-gatherer, but then someone had the bright idea of… goats … and oats. The population swelled, sons and daughters had to move out, cities were built, a nomadic lifestyle began and the rest is history.
A quote from one of the less poetic and narrative parts of the book:
«The profound dichotomy that has shaped the agricultural era may lie in an opposition between nomads and settlers, between people for whom home is place of timeless constancy, a centre in which humanity itself arose, and those who are on the move and, if at rest, rest only while preparing for further movement. the paradox, of course, is that this is the divide between the settled hunters and the nomadic farmers.»
Both Cain and Abel were farmers, both replaced the hunter gatherer.
From a review of the book:
«ANTHROPOLOGIST Hugh Brody describes the visit to London of Anaviapik, an Inuit who had never previously left the Arctic. Anaviapik is disgorged from a British Airways plane on a hot summer’s day swathed in a fox-fur-trimmed parka and «wearing sealskin boots with brown trousers tucked into their patterned tops». To Brody’s relief, Anaviapik survives this visit with equanimity. One thing he never masters, however, is the built environment. Every day Brody teases him, challenging him to find the short way home from the Tube. Every day he fails: «How amazing that the Qallunaat [white people] live in cliffs. I would never be able to find my way here without you.»
Back in the vast, white, apparently indecipherable landscapes of the Arctic Anaviapik has no such problem. On one occasion, Brody travels hundreds of miles with him by dog sledge. En route, Anaviapik diverts to a place he has not visited since 1938. «How did you remember the way?» asks Brody. «Inuit cannot get lost in our own land. If we have done a journey once, we can always do it again.» This is one of the many instances which brings home to Brody the profound difference between hunter-gatherers’ attitude to the land and our own. Theirs is an intimate knowledge of the land’s contours, its seasons and creatures. A transformed landscape, dominated by man’s activities, is alien and unattractive to them.»
Anaviapik however remains cheerful, keen to talk to as many people as he can wherever he can. He builds up a picture of a society where everyone’s family lives somewhere else. He hates having to sleep in a room on his own.
Where am I going with this? Don’t know.
Thursday April 20, 2006 – 05:27pm (CEST)
Nana, «crick» is American country slang for «creek,» a small stream. The full saying is «If God’s willing and the crick don’t rise,» as in high water or a flood, which presumably back in the day would impede or prevent travel. Yes I am a hiker, all my life, and I want to hike on Ikaria after seeing all of Eleni’s intriguing photos, and for the history. It is after all where Icarus washed ashore.
Thursday April 20, 2006 – 09:19am (PDT)
->One of my first favourite books was Giles Deleuze’s «Mille Plateaus». Then I read Brody too. Oh man, Simon G, I see that the ‘islands of trees’ have strong plethoric protectors. Thanks for that; oxyzen is my dope. Has anybody seen a forest after acid rain? I have.
-> Ah, Greg, that’s good news. Remember to ask our friend ‘Psalakanthos’ (Matt) about his experiences in Ikaria this year. He’s planning to visit other islands too. He’d better do that before mid-July when the pretty girls land.
Thursday April 20, 2006 – 12:45pm (PDT)
ΚΑΛΗ ΑΝΑΣΤΑΣΗ, ΕΛΕΝΗ !!! Happy Easter.
You are no cook, but I bet you can dye eggs red. Let’s have a photo. Or are there too many friends around and you too busy? Jimmy P is right to ask for photos of people. But you never ‘shoot people’. You talk and offer drinks («Zorba beer» -what’s that? Couldn’t believe my eyes. Another of Nana’s «inventions»?).
Friday April 21, 2006 – 02:40pm (EEST)
Bouconne is the «lung» of the city of Toulouse and the Toulousiens are very wise to preserve and to manage it. Who is Ikaria the «lung» of?
Is it a «party island» like Mykonos, Ios and Paros? «Party islands» are «lungs» too, in a way. But I doubt Ikaria is one.
I read a UN report saying that by now 1/2 of the world’s population live in cities. So which city people is (potentially) Ikaria the lung of? None’s? The Athenian suburbia’s? The philosophers’?
Find this and you will have the key to its preservation.
Tough, eh? Tough stuff turns you on. So prove it.
from Prof Athina assisted by the senior USDA staff
Friday April 21, 2006 – 10:26pm (EEST)
Let’s sit here sheltered under the rich spring foliage of the ‘Foret de Bouconne’ where very few people will hear us:
Yes, Prof Fiend Fulvia, the USDA is right: Ikaria is ‘the lung’ of the Athenian suburbia. The amount and the account of this influence was not included in the outstanding ‘Rebels and Radicals -Ikaria 1600-2000′ How could this be done from America? Even in Greece there is only one good book about the suberbia and that was a novel: Soti’s Triantafyllou, «Savato Vrady stin Akri tis Polis’. The writer has visited Ikaria more than once, I think. She nearly drowned once in the waves of Messakti beach.
I tend to believe that this relation between the suburbs and Ikaria would explain much of the famous *Ikarian enigma*. Not that I’m particularly interested in solving it. I want to know how the trick works, so that I reproduce it -;)) *weirdo* & *funny* & as genuine popular expression -LOL
Saturday April 22, 2006 – 04:14am (PDT)
Born and raised in the «suburbia» at a certain point in my life I got tired of seeing Ikaria as a «lung». It was too far from Athens (9 hours by boat). Something had to be done about it. So I moved and settled permanently inside it. I’d hate Ikaria becomes a suberb of a suberb of a city. This will mean that I will have to look for another «lung» for me and my family. A reasonable alternative for a suberb is …what? A PARK, of course! (with holes? yes, ok, with holes and lotsa fun -no problem)
__\\Buconne//__ is ‘cool’ I like it a lot.
Monday April 24, 2006 – 08:39pm (EEST)