- νῦν ἀπολύεις τὸν δοῦλήν σου, ἐν εἰρήνῃ·
- ὅτι εἶδον οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου. …
Why am I chanting the Canticle of Symeon? Why am I feeling so relieved? 😀
Because I who dropped from the sky in the beginning of winter of 2006 and discovered, among many other things, the amazing wealth of the mountainous hinterland of Ikaria and since then never stopped talking about it, insisting against the walls of indifference and ignorance, fighting against the dogma that the mountains are good only for rubbish dumps, free-grazing goats and perhaps several dozens of gigantic turbines on top of them all, I finally lived to witness the revolution. Two years ago when Angelos announced the closing of the trail network because of lack of support, I wished so hard that something happened and things took a different course. And there it was! The people of Ikaria are taking things in their hands! The news appeared in the Ikarian e-magazine ikariamag last week in an article under the title «How Ikaria… takes the mountains!». I found that was worth translating and blogging about it. Though I know it may seem to you a rather dry account of events strewn with place names that make no sense, yet to my ears it was music.
Most of the photos in this entry came to me through my spies in facebook from the groups: a) Ορειβάτες Πεζοπόροι Ικαρίας, b) Καθαρίζω την Ικαρία, and c) Αυτόνομη Συσπείρωση Πολιτών Ικαρίας. The links open to pictures in Flickr.
How Ikaria… takes the mountains!
Eventually, as time goes by, the mountains of Ikaria cease to be considered inaccessible and they reveal their greatness more often. Thanks to the initial longtime effort of a few stubborn dreamers, more and more local people are discovering their beauty, while more experienced hikers do bolder things or create new routes. Finally, last weekend the action came to a peak. The map below shows the trails followed, cleaned or traced by four different groups of people who were active in our mountains during these two days.
In red color we have marked the progress of the first group of local hikers who started from Agios Dimitrios in Pounta on Saturday afternoon. After they crossed Zizokampos and Erifi, they came to Agios Isidoros from where they took the trail to Karkinagri. Once at the shore, they spent the night in the cove of Kalou near Trapalou. On Sunday morning they took the old broken-down dirt road along the coast and finally reached Manganitis.
In pink color you can see the long route from Cape Papas to Cape Drakanon taken by a group of people from Rahes who since long are dedicating their Saturdays to hiking. Most of them aren’t young anymore, yet their physical condition is so good that they decided to perform the crossing of the entire Ikarian ridge within two days. They spent the night in Ai-Stathis and on Sunday afternoon they reached Drakanon where they put out their weariness in the shallow and warm waters of the cove of Ai Giorgis. Another pleasant surprise there.
In the same area, earlier that morning, residents of Faros village and several volunteers had taken up to clean and repair the trail that had been abandoned for years, leading to the church of Ai Giorgis and the beach further below. The operation included picking up and carrying the garbage from the coast. Meanwhile signboards are being prepared for the wider area of Faros which stays without signage for years. These signs will be painted by the students of the elementary school.
In blue color is shown the most difficult part of an ambitious project taken up by the Mountain Climbing and Hiking Club of Ikaria. On Sunday they visited the area of Ryakas searching inside this impressive tubular canyon for a way out on a trail to Selini and Agios Theologos in Geli close to the mountain tops. They had already made their preparation, they achieved what they wanted and in a short while they will be ready to announce the crossing of Ikaria widthwise from south to north. When this is completed, hikers will be able to admire one after the other the two most beautuful canyons of the island, Chalares and Ryakas, on a single hike from Nas to Manganitis.
In green is shown the old traditional lane from Xylosirtis to Kampa which was closed and covered with vegetation for ages. At the initiative of the municipal party «Aftonomi Syspeirossi Politon Ikarias» and the participation of several villagers the difficult job to clean this lane started on Sunday. With other similar projects running at the same time in different parts of the island, baring unforseen, the beautiful lane from Xylosirtis to Kampa will be ready within a month.
The article ends there, but the action keeps on. It seems that there is always a new thing of this kind going on in Ikaria every weekend. If you are interested, get in touch with the right people and get involved. The best is that these actions are not sponsored by coorporates or funded by either the local or the central government. These actions happen and they will go on happening because the people want to take over their mountains! They want to work together to do something, no matter how small this may be, for the good of the island and for their own good as well. As the slogan in one of the pictures says,
«None of us can do everything, yet each of us can do a small thing. All of us put together can do many things.»
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
A chronicle of twenty years in the paths and the mountains of Ikaria. What has been done, by who, how and why.
A thrilling true story.
We are opening our hearts and sharing the secrets in the village hall of Agios Dimitrios, Rahes,
on Sunday, March 3 at 5 a. m.
Thanks George for the video.
It’s not a good day today.
This is the mail I received from a dearest friend this morning with the request to post in my blog. I couldn’t help adding some pictures as a tribute to the past and testimony of a great work that has come to an end.
Here it goes:
Hello, my name is Angelos K.
As some of you may know, I have been the designer and administrator of an expanded network of hiking trails in Ikaria for over 15 years. However, today, with mixed feelings of grief and relief I am shutting down the project. Unfortunately I can’t afford to work anymore without recognition and substantial support from the locals and the local authorities. It was my mistake to suppose that such a thing would happen in the course of time. Yet, my initiative, despite it’s success, remained unperceived even by those who drew a direct profit from it every year (hotel and restaurant owners etc.).
I just can’t do it anymore.
The project was never supported by the central government and I have come to the end of my financial means and physical strength.
I am aware the shutdown of planned hiking in Ikaria will make us a poorer island from many points of view. On the other hand, as things as with tourism in Ikaria, it’s likely that only few people will notice the fact and even fewer will know the cause.
Therefore starting from spring the main signs at the beginnings of the trails will be removed and the map will go out of sale (*). It would be the responsible thing to do as, despite the efforts of several friends, the paths haven’t been maintained and the marking hasn’t been refreshed for a long period of time, so in many cases trails have become too difficult or impassable.
The good side, however, of the shutdown is that I and my occasional helpers would be free to work without stress “behind the scenes”, like when a shop closes down but the team stays ans works inside. After all, in either case, open or closed, no-one was paid.
Ikaria is still and as always a beautiful natural island and hiking is by far the best way to know it. In my heart the shutdown will be temporary. The amount of money that is needed for a restart is small. If it is given to the project with with good faith and in some more or less permanent basis, via, for example, the Mountain Climbing and Hiking Club of Ikaria, the signs will be up again and a new hiking map will be published, that will cover, as it is due, the whole of Ikaria and not only a part.
We shall always walk.
Thank you very much
(*) I am not giving up the copyrights of the traced routes and the map.
I have nothing to say or add other than that someone cannot be a volunteer for 17 years!
The Ikarians must read about it so Nana put up this announcement in the original Greek in her blog very soon.
Bye for now
...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)