The little house in the desert


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………The place ^^’
………⭐ ⭐ ⭐
On the wuthering heights of Ikaria 305 by Eleni Ikanou on Flickrmount Atheraς in the center of a sandy plateau surrounded by windswept round boulders lies a tiny cube-like building with a chimney on its flat roof. This is «To Spitaki tis Mamis» (the little house of the midwife), or «Saint Panteleimon Mountain Refuge», as the marble plate in the wall next to the door says. Built by a kind woman in 1960 for the benefit of all mountain walkers, Spitaki tis Mamis, despite its miniature size, is a mountain shelter properly speaking, not associated to a church or mountain chapel, as it is usual in Greece, but built hiking-wise at important crossroads in a location where a hiker cannot possibly miss. This makes Spitaki tis Mamis, if not the oldest, undoubtedly one of the oldest mountain shelters in the Aegean islands. With my own ears I have heard about the lives it has saved through the years. On the chimney there was a fog bell to guide lost souls in the mountain and inside, as if by a magic hand, it was always provided with firewood, cooking pots, lamps and lamp oil, coffee, sugar, rice etc.
It was a place that wrote history.
However and in spite of all that, in the course of events and new road building in the 1990s Spitaki tis Mamis was forgotten and fell in oblivion. As a result, today -57 years after it was built- it’s in very bad shape: cracked walls, no door and window and a roof almost ready to fall in.

………The project ^^’
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Last month, answering Announcement by OPS Ikarias on Google+: 'We are in the pleasant position to announce that our request to the Municipality of Ikaria to grant permission to repair on our own expences and volunteer work the derelict mountain shelter to a request made by several local associations, Spitaki tis Mamis was declared by the Town Council as a cultural monument – standing reminder of the times when there were no roads and cars in Ikaria and the only way to travel from one part of the island to another was by walking long hours across uninhabited, mountainous landscapes in rain, snow or fog. Following this desicion, the Town Council granted permission to the interested parts to repair the old shelter and adapt it to modern needs. As they said, that would be done on the own expences and voluntary work without help from either central or local government…
Volunteers going to work in the wilderness on dream project…?
Oops! I know that! I must help!

………My involvement ^^’
………⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Dear readers, the purpose The oldest mt. shelter in the Aegean islands by angelos ka on Flickr of this article is to advertise the aforementioned project and call for funding and support. To do so I can’t find a better way than to show you a set of 16 photos taken many years ago on a hike along half the length of the mountain ridge. That great, mind and soul filling, two-day trip would not have been possible if Spitaki tis Mamis didn’t exist.
In the middle of that desert of rocks, sands, ferns and srubs, although abandonned and broken, it was still there marking the way, connecting the present with the past. It still said «Hello, I am here for you». I want it to be repaired. If not for any other reason, because of an experience I will never forget. Many years ago when I was single and young, while lying in my sleeping bag on its old cracked concrete roof, still warm from the sun, Nightsky over the mountain shelter in Ammoudia, IkariaI gazed at the biggest and brightest summer night sky I’ve seen in my life!

……… The pictures
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………⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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On the path inside Ranti Forest

On the path inside Ranti Forest

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Walking on the ridge and leaving the forest behind

Walking on the ridge and leaving the old forest behind

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A typical Ikarian rock house on the way to Rahes

A typical Ikarian rock house on the way to Rahes

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Checking the map in the sunset. Got to reach that mountain shelter before nightfall

Checking the map in the sunset. Got to reach that mountain shelter before nightfall

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Unpacking inside the tiny mountain shelter

Unpacking inside the tiny mountain shelter

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The fireplace!

The fireplace!

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Sunrise on Ammoudia plateau, alt 860 m.

Sunrise on Ammoudia plateau, alt. 860 m.

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On the road inside Erifi plateau in the morning

On the road inside Erifi plateau in the morning

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In view of forested uplands

In view of forested uplands

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Hike across barren wastelands

Hike across barren wastelands

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In view of the southern coast at last

In view of the southern coast at last

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Walking down to Karkinagri on a beautiful stone paved lane for a while

Walking down to Karkinagri on a beautiful stone paved lane for a while

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Old houses built on steep ground in the historical part of the village next to a very violent mountain torrent

Old houses built on steep ground in the historical part of the village next to a very violent mountain torrent

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Climbing down along a mountain stream near Karkinagri

Climbing down along a mountain stream near Karkinagri

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source

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That was all from me for now. You can read the official account of the project at this link. For donations, as well as for extra hands, you may write to opsikarias2008@gmail.com and/or kinisi.politon.ikaria@gmail.com. I will keep you up to date for further developments.
Follow me up! ^^’

Eleni Ik ❤

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Saturday, June 6, 2017

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≅ river 2003 ≅


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aqua1006 (msaz) - Ikaria 2003 Seeing pictures of those new girls as they went around and posed proudly in the wild nature of Ikaria last summer, I said: «Hey, young ladies! We were there long before you!» Not that -goes without saying- we were the first. We don’t claim a title which righteously belongs to the hippies. But we were the first who took photos and shared them with the world. Retracting my memories, I had even made a drafty webpage in 2004 where I described the magic of one of those places -the best in my opinion in the whole island. «Hike Chalares, canyon of my heart», was the title, if I am not mistaken. I had received critisism for that page, critisism of the kind, «You shouldn’t give out secrets» and so on. But I was sure of my step. Wonders of nature shouldn’t be kept secret. The same goes for «pockets of freedom», they shouldn’t be kept secret either. But this is not the issue today. The issue today is that, twelve years after that day of September when we walked up bravely for almost the whole length of that river, today that I am not as young and posy as I was in 2003, I am sharing again with the world some of the material stored in the poor memory card of our obsolete Casio Exilim which could contain no more than 20 hi-res shots. But first let me review a few stories about the river – the scenery where these shots where taken.
♦ ♦ ♦  As I said, in 2003 we visited the canyon to survey the location and take photos. Besides sport and fun, our purpose was to a evaluate: «Was it as beautiful as they said? And if so, what kind of threats to the environment were there?».
♦ ♦ ♦  Having proven that Chalares was an amazing place, having shown that inspite it was September, there was plenty of water and the vegetation was lush, having warned that the sides of the hills were infested by disastrous free-grazing goats, I suggested that a hiking trail was created in order to put in value the beauty of the canyon and hopefully promote its protection.
♦ ♦ ♦  My appeal was heard and in 2005 a large trail network spread in the area. In addition, the large river pool which appears in the photos below was chosen for a very interesting experiment: the construction of a small environment-friendly semipermeable dam, meant to slow down the flow of the river and give new strengh to the vegetation.
♦ ♦ ♦  But though in the coming years the canyon got to be more and more known, visited and enjoyed, the main threat to its environment was not treated.
Unfortunately the goats were always there. As a matter of fact, for reasons that don’t concern this review, there were even more! As a result, exactly five years ago, in October 18, 2010, when a torrential rainfall hit the western part of the island, the overgrazed, barren and unstable sides of the lower part of the canyon collapsed. Tons of earth and rocks were carried by the water smashing the trees  and wiping out all vegetation, leveling the lakes, transforming what used to be a detailed natural handiwork into a flat highway of gravel and sand.
Today is the black anniversary of that disaster. For older girls like me it is a bitter reminder that it takes much more things than just good intentions for paradise to happen. For younger girls I hope it is a lesson to be learned, I am afraid, only through experience. I am spreading my winds (which have started to turn grey) over their pretty heads and I am dedicating to them seven pictures from that blissful day of 2003 in the river when it was rich, when it was green, when it was mine. For better or worse it’s their turn now.
The following photos were heavily processed using different methods in different periods of time. In this entry, as they always should, they appear their real «order taken», which is «in order of feelings»: curiosity, worry, happiness, pride, relaxed bliss, anxiety, humility. Their titles in Flickr are different but if you move your mouse over each picture, you will be able to know which is which.
That’s all. Let the old show begin again! ^^’

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curiosity

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worry

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happiness

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pride

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relaxed bliss

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anxiety

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humility

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Copyright © Eleni Ikanou