...in Kritsa...



A perfect auburn morning with only one thing left to do before our five hour jaunt to the airport.
Quickly, I dress and cross the street to search for the lane that leads to the track that leads to the road that I can see from our balcony. The road that climbs and climbs the steep mountain on our left. I know it curls into the clouds but the boy in me wants to know where it goes after that.

So through the abandoned churchyard, conscious of my crunch,
then along the track that sqeezes through some low-flying daddy-long-legs up past what appears to be a box on wheels powered by a 354cc Honda lawn-mower engine.
Mother of Zeus! How I'd love one of those!

Suddenly I'm walking on asphalt, and walk and walk I do - high above the village.
I pass a goat, she suddenly shy, tethered to a fence,
then a man with a bulky sack resting on a bench;
and a widow lady waiting for a car coming up behind.
And still I tramp, tramp, and tramp.

My calves complain. The resin-scented air is intoxicating. My breathing loud and harsh.
I meet a flowering cactus, tall as a man, and wish it, 'good morning', and we nod.
Then a teenage girl in party frock, humming secrets to herself, smiling brightly, marches past me...
I pass the last roadsign, the one with diagonal line, and before I can catch my breath,

I'm there.

I turn to see.




The village is lost from view. Almost without thinking, I step off into the air and float above the bluff and the gorge, its escarpment and crevasse - and still below me the road tracks on forever - but my mouth is dry and I can hardly swallow.
I come down to earth with some sort of sense of achievement because at last I know the truth.

That the road never ends. It has been tempting my curiosity since I was a child and now, with winged feet and some strange giddiness, I float down over slopes and terraces, through squashed passageways of neatly cramped, wondrous homes where, although still very early, morning chains release another churning day.
I stride on past jumpy, cautious cats and straggling, grumbling chickens with their own peculiar smells. Fig and orange and lemon trees, rose bushes, apricot and vine. Poppies carpet the olive groves and bay and basil, rosemary and thyme, parsley and elder go mad all over. Doves fall through the air for fun, sparrows chirp and chatter and the air is filled with the screaming of swifts and sparrows below the patrolling lammergeyer and somewhere a cockatiel squawks in all that crazy consciousness.
It's just natural nature in a fluttering, never-ending flow.

Waiting for our bus, we give up trying to identify the dozen or so different shrubs that stand in Melina Merkouri plateia and when Nyfoula leaves, wishing us a safe journey, our conversation fades to thoughtful pauses till I spot our Romany lady neighbour shopkeeper and ask if I might take her photo. She has the strong beautiful features and dark steady eyes that you see in the bust of Rodanthi. She isn't very enthusiastic but lets me anyway.

And then the bus comes.

There is always that moment as you leave your idyll when your mind switches off and before you know it, you're on your way, if only in your consciousness. But that morning, as we stood to climb aboard, we were pulled right back into the moment by a voice calling from the other side of the street,
'My friends! Don't forget your water. Kalos taxidi.'
It was the man who'd helped me use the well-tap and for once, all I could do was wave.

Mamma Sareidakis and our Landlady Maria each gave us 'going-away' presents of washed lemonade bottles filled with raki, 'For your journey', and
Maria's mother lets me embrace her - it's like kissing a loving cactus.

Now the airport...there's a five hour delay before our flight...we don't mind and take it as an unexpected extension to our visit...ten hours since we left Kritsa but then ...all is peaceful back in the orchard...

In Kritsa we found a way of being still, of slowing down, of becoming ourselves. becalmed.

And this led us into the true spirit of these generous people; of sharing in their kindness, their laughter; their optimism; together in the cycle of life and facing the future with equanimity.




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