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!
Copyright © Eleni Ikanou
to young blood>>
>>> if combined with mountain air, goat boil, violin music, plane leaves, herbs, stones and dust. Langada Festival, August 15 2007. All photos © Spiros Staveris, starring some of my friends. I am almost never in Ikaria in August and I hope that you can see the reason!
I got tired of having ‘the stupid side of my face’ welcome me every time I want to write in my blog.
So I replaced it with something ‘red hot’.
I am still there, of course, included somewhere in the picture -all in blue, purple and red. These are my favourite colours.
Is it serious, doctor?..
The rainstorm of last night took my headache away.
There was thunder outside and in my dreams too.
I dreamt I was in Livadi beach and there was a sudden rainstorm. I was a ‘grouvalina’ (!) and I was fighting against ‘the bourgeois’ (ordinary holiday makers) who wanted to take over my camping place (which was under the trees) to protect themselves from the rain. Many things happened simultaneously and I haven’t decided which came first, second, third, so I can’t put them down as story yet.
A doctor writes…..hmmm you have identified with the κρινα της θαλασσας, which is emblematic of the vulnerable yet wild (true) side of your nature and there is a conflict with your more public persona – the bourgeoisie, (also represented by the literal «public face» you have grown tired of and deleted), which in turn is seeking shelter from the rain under the darkness of the trees; ironically the rain has been brought down to nourish the lilly part of your inner self, newly discovered in the dry, arid sand. Lots of conflict, symbolised by thunder, all is happening at once, but the lighthouse, a kind of creative dream extension, is there to help illuminate a path to resolution while at the same time keeping you hidden and protected , yet still «within the frame» of the picture; orange purple and red are energy, conflict and anger, but purple promises peace.. So yes, we like the lighthouse….Next…
Monday February 6, 2006 – 10:45pm (GMT)
Wow doctor! What a diagnosis! I’m afraid that my social security will not accept to cover the expence. May I pay you in cash little by little every month?
Tuesday February 7, 2006 – 03:19am (PST)
I understand that barter was always the Ikarian fallback when times were hard…so some wine and honey would be acceptable…
Tuesday February 7, 2006 – 04:47pm (GMT)
Εγώ, Ελένη μου, νομίζω πως είσαι εντάξει και δεν χρειάζεται να πληρώσεις τον γιατρό. Μάλλον φταίει που κάθεσαι για πολλή ώρα πολύ κοντά στο αναμμένο τζάκι.
Tuesday February 7, 2006 – 10:25pm (EET)
Seasonal hippie life – a short and secret summer break without bad life and drugs involved. Only little cherry tomatoes. It’s such a sweet mood and so liberating after those crazy 😡 and stressful 😥 final school exams these kids have gone through 😮 Although so many years have passed, I know what I am talking about! 😀
Most of the pictures come from the set «A Noon in the River» © 2013
So here are Angelos’ photos from Livadi beach.
They were taken this morning ! He has also added arrows and labels. He is a very φιλότιμο παιδί.
He thought he would be digging for bulbs but he found grown plants. They’ ve got to be the sea-lilies. The colors do not show well, but A says that the leaves, though they look alike most other lily species, have a slightly different lighter shade, -‘pale’ or salty (this is the word he used). The series starts with a photo (taken from the outside) of the door of the shameful, so-called ‘camping site’ , which in fact is a wasteland full of sights for the fans of the weirdo culture …
…..never mind about it now and let’s go and see the lilies which grow on both sides of this door.
This is first sea-lily Angelos encountered. Nothing very spectacular, you’d think and you’d be right.
Everybody has smelt lilies. Could this ‘almost a seaweed’ give the best scent of all its magnificent relatives?
The answer is SALT. What food would be like without it? The same seems to be true with the perfumes of flowers (according to me, but I think not only me).
This is exactly the spot where the first real tourists set a tent in Ikaria a looong ago in the mid-70s. They were young Germans, most of them students, most of them from Frankfurt, and they read the philosophy of Marcuse. (according to old local chronicles)
It is believed that in spite of the Weirdo cult, there are still pheromones and echoes and good vibrations there.
I can’t tell you. I hardly ever go to Livadi beach anymore.
Ναι αυτοί ήταν. Το Λιβάδι τότε ήταν ένα δάσος από κέδρους και καλαμιές. Εμείς μέναμε στον Αρμενιστή κι αναρωτιόμασταν τι ήταν που τους άρεσε και έμεναν εκεί ‘στην ξερή άμμο’. Οι πιο γέροι τους λυπόντουσαν λίγο.
‘o tempora, o mores’
Sunday February 5, 2006 – 03:09pm (EET)
The place is not just innocent ‘Weirdo parade’. When I visited last summer, it looked very ‘fascist’… I don’t mean the beach. I mean the old camping-site behind the fence. Whoever made all those crazy contructions and piled all that garbidge in there, must have hated the hip, no doubt.
Let’s squat it, eh?
Να κάνουμε κατάληψη?
Sunday February 5, 2006 – 08:25pm (EET)
‘Στη στεριά δεν ζει το ψάρι
ούτε ο ανθός στην αμμουδιά,
κι οι Σουλιώτισσες δεν ζούνε
δίχως την ελευθεριά.’
This is from ‘The Dance of Zalogo’, one of my best favourites in Greek folk verse and music.The words say : «a fish can’t live on the land, neither can a flower live on sand, neither can the women of Souli live without freedom.»
(After a battle was lost, the women of Souli ran to the brow of a cliff where they sang and danced this merry-go-round ‘syrtos’ . As they danced, one after the other jumped over the cliff and got killed . The women of Souli were something else -believe me.)
I started like this because I wanted to connect this entry with ‘contradictions’, remember? Because in Greece there is a flower (ανθός =a real flower with a nice smell and pretty looks) which lives on sand. It’s name is Thalassokrinos (=the lilly of the sea, θάλασσα). I first saw it on Livadi beach, near Armenistis about 12 years ago. There are some dwarf cedar trees there (juniperus?) and people often camp under them in the summer. Then they go away and they leave many ordinary or extraordinary items half-buried in the sand. So when that smell struck my nose I thought it was from a bottle of sun-cream and my first thought was to find the make because I had never smelled anything like it before and I liked it very much. I expected to find some exotic (e.g. American, Australian) brand. But there was nothing like it in the deserted camping site under the cedar tree -only sand and several cigarette butts. The smell was stronger then so I squated and searched with my hands in the sand. Among cigarette butts and odd debris I touched several hard protrusions. They were whitish beige -about the same colour as the sand, and at first I thought they were small peebles or seashells. But they were soft under my touch and of course they smelt divine! I was wirling round the tree like a mad dog then and I went to the other side of it which campers do not use because there are many spurges there. Among them I saw my first fully grown Sea Lilly, a flower I believed it was mythical. Much humbler and modest than the ones depicted in the Minoan frescoes (one called, if I’m not mistaken, Η Κυρία με τα Κρίνα, The Lady with the Lillies) but as proud and princely in odor.
I had discovered a ‘habitat‘.
I came back after a few days and had the luck to see the whole colony in bloom. It was a very windy day though so there was no smell. I didn’t squat nor did I came back on another day, because I didn’t want to attract public attention. I only spoke about my discovery to the woman who owns ‘Atsahas’ taverna (that’s on the side of the hill on the eastern side of the beach). She is an amateur in plants and she knows Livadi beach like the palm of her hand, but she had never heard or seen the sea lillies. Perhaps this is because they come out of bulbs and they bloom for too short. Then, if you don’t know about them, you wouldn’t look under a tree in the sand (washed by the surf in winter too) to find such a flower, when there so many places to look for interesting plants on the dry land.
Why don’t those flowers behave right? Well, I think that if they did they wouldn’t smell so divine.
They are the Alkyon sea bird. Why doesn’t it nest on safer ground than those rocks right over the killer surf of the sea in winter? If they did, they would be plain birds (white, brown or black) and they wouldn’t have that shiny electric blue-green-yellow colour. They wouldn’t set an example, there would be no myth connected to them and we wouldn’t be so happy to see them -we, lonely swimmers of lonely rocky coves.
Have I filled a computer screen? I think I have. So I’ll write no more in my blog tonight. There will be another full computer screen tomorrow.
εδώ ψιχαλίζει απόψε
και είναι πολύ ωραία.
Εύχομαι και σε σας να είναι
το ίδιο καλά και καλύτερα.
Yes, sometimes beauty emerges only through hardship and grief; sometimes through tears comes a clarity of vision. What does not kill me makes me stronger, so they say Eleni.
Wednesday February 1, 2006 – 02:45pm (PST)
I know the spot. What do I win if I find the bulbs and send you a photo?
Thursday February 2, 2006 – 12:51pm (EET)
Do I have to tell you? I thought you were cleverer.
To find the bulbs is the prize, of course, what else?
Thursday February 2, 2006 – 12:41pm (PST)
You have the North of England branch of Hiking Ikaria utterly intrigued by these sea-lilies….And how often have I been bowled over by extraordinary scents on Ikaria and not traced the source..
Thursday February 2, 2006 – 08:42pm (GMT)