From our terrace, we look straight into the mouth of the Kavousi Gorge and walking up it has been something we have both wanted to do, ever since we moved here.
So, this week with the weather remaining warm and sunny we decided to have an exploration!
The path to the entrance starts just below our house and separately, we have both walked down there previously and we know that you need to run the gauntlet of a number of dogs. Most of the larger ones are chained up but their puppies, some of which are now quite large run free and like their parents bark furiously at anything which moves.
Bonnie pretends not to notice and walks sedately through the howling throng with her nose in the air, as much to say, “these beasts have nothing at all to do with me. I am a human like you! Someone should train them properly.” We, of course, wave sticks and get anxious and mutter darkly about the Greek attitude to dogs which is frankly indefensible but hey, it is their country.
We soon reached the start of the old Minoan path up the side of the Gorge and gradually the barking faded away although it continued for some time after we were out of sight.
The Minoans were master builders and one can only wonder at the skill of the folk who crafted this path out of the side of a cliff without any of the mechanical tools which we need nowadays simply to dig a hole.
The Gorge itself is impassable so the path rises in a series of zigzags and height is gained quickly as a result. Usually, the sheer drop is on your right but the path is mostly quite wide so for other than one or two places it was not too frightening. How did that Barbara Streisand song go? “And when it’s scary, don’t look down!”
The path is also beautifully graded, which indeed it needed to be as it was used by loaded mules. It is also incredibly well-preserved considering that with the advent of roads and the motor car, it has probably not been used by a mule in nearly a hundred years. Presumably it required regular maintenance before then but the basic structure dates back to Minoan times. They need to be commended.
After about half an hour, we had a splendid view of Kavousi, including our house, below us with the sea beyond, Above and to the right was the Minoan settlement of Azorias and beyond, the mountains of the Thripti range.
A few minutes later, we rounded a corner and a completely new vista opened up. We could now look directly down into the depths of the Gorge below us and across to a valley opening up beyond but the most alarming feature was a scree slope which had to be crossed. However, even this had a buttress on the down side and a supporting wall above, so although the surface was rough, it wasn’t too bad as long as you didn’t look down! Thanks for the advice, Babs!
After this obstacle, the path continued to climb and we could see below us the top of the Gorge proper crossed by a dirt road which leads up to a largely abandoned village.
Our path joins the road further up but for us, having rested awhile and enjoyed the scenery it was time to turn around and retrace our steps.
Bonnie led the way across the scree slope which seemed much shorter than on the way up and we were soon at the top of the zigzags which were definitely worse than going up – it’s hard not to look down when that is what you are doing!
However we lived to tell the tale and after a face off with the dogs and a brief chat (in Greek of course) with the owner, it was home for tea.
Earlier in the week, after coffee with H2, we stopped off at the Long Beach to give Bonnie a run. As usual in the winter, there was no one else there and I sat in the sun while Sheila and Bonnie collected driftwood for the fire!
Greek politics seem to have gone quiet recently, although the hospital in Ierapetra remains under threat of closure and unemployment has reached even higher record heights, with figures showing that the number of people in work now is not that much greater than all those without jobs combined i.e. the unemployed, pensioners and children etc, which seems unsustainable in the long-term. Not surprising therefore that the Greek Health and Employment Insurance schemes are broke and that young people are increasingly despondent about their prospects here. The most optimistic are, apparently, those over 65!
Which all goes to show, I suppose, that we really are a generation which, in Harold Macmillan’s immortal words, have never had it so good! So we keep spending our pensions and hope that things here in paradise, will get better. Then we hear on the news, that Greek farmers are protesting because they are being required to pay higher taxes and obliged to keep accounts. Usually, I am on the side of the oppressed but in this case, I can only say – “about time too!”