Saturday, August 20, 2011

Searching for Windmills in the Lassithi Valley

Woman Walking on the Island of Crete
Oil on Cardboard, 1976
Journal Excerpt (May 30 - 1976)

After Neapolis, we started our trek searching for the windmills of the Lassithi Valley. The sun was brilliant and all that could be heard was a chorus of animal noises. Bird song in glorious anticipation, donkeys joining in with their low, guttural groans. I find them to be so humorous.  Chickens, pigs, and roosters. Everything so alive - breathing in the last days of May.

We finally reached a monastery where we sat anxious to rest and contemplate the long walk up the mountain to a Cretan village.  We had no plans for a place to sleep that night but had bought some food at a tiny country market that we'd, fortunately, stumbled into to sustain us, a couple of chocolate bars, can of beans, biscuits, and a small package of cookies. We left the village and climbed further up the mountain. I occasionally stopped to wipe the sweat from my brow finally feeling as though my red bandanna was fulfilling its purpose - no longer merely an ornament to decorate my neckline but a useful piece of cloth from which to relieve myself from the day's heat.

The scenery was breathtaking - this is Crete, I thought. Should I see nothing else here I'll feel satisfied. You must feel Crete with your feet. Mountains looming high, shadowing each other. So many shades of green trees with the sun shining through them. An occasional donkey would pass overladen with wheat or a variety of  herbs and vegetables picked by a sun-burned, leathery hand.

Another rest then we ran across the road to pick a few choice onions from a farmer's field to add to our dinner. After continuing a ways up the road, we came across a small cafe. An old Greek woman sat out front shelling beans for dinner, stopping ever so often to reprimand some small children.  A weathered-looking man sat in front spitting occasionally but mostly he just stared at us. His friend picked us some white berries from large, leafy vines that hung over us. They were juicy and tasted sweet. Next, a German couple came up in a Greek man's car who had rescued them after one of their motorbikes broke down. He said he'd pick us up on his way back and give us a ride to the Lassithi Valley. As we waited the friend of the father there brought us ouzo with a small plate of olives. You need a bit of nourishment as this typically Greek liquor can certainly knock you on the head.