Monday, 5 December 2011

A Dip in December

At this time of year I'd say that 75% of the traffic on the roads in this part of the island is pickup trucks. For a while we could almost be back in the High Rockies in Aspen, Colorado, where we spent three weeks one June a few years back. Out there just about everyone drives a 4x4 pickup. When you remember that for six months of every year they're up to their goolies in snow it's not really surprising. Here? well, it's olive harvesting time again. Plus many of the trucks are a little less roadworthy than all the gleaming ones you see charging up and down Route 82.

It's hard to believe that this past August was our sixth anniversary of arriving here and we're now well into our seventh annual cycle of Rhodean rural life. It still thrills us to be able to follow the phases of the moon. There are so many clear nights here, year-round, that we now know when looking at it which phase the moon is in. At the moment, as it's Early December, it's waxing. Still waxing "gibbous" as the weather web sites remind us. This means that it's in its early phase and appears low in the western sky soon after sunset, sporting the classic shape that the cow was reputed to have jumped over, when the puppy laughed and before the controversial elopement of the cutlery and crockery which soon followed. This also means that well before midnight the moon sets and the sky is moon-free, impossibly inky and displaying diamond-like stars that are so vivid you'd swear they'd just flown off a tiara. The Milky Way is a vivid cloud of lace strung right across the sky from horizon to horizon and shooting stars are easy to spot with just a few moments of patient gazing.

This past few weeks have been glorious weather-wise. Not that the locals would say so of course. Since mid-October there has been one weekend (in early November) when it rained for a couple of days, but since then there's scarcely been a cloud, leave alone any precipitation. Of course, the ex-pat community are well pleased, but the Greeks worry about the fact that without the Autumn rains the olives haven't fattened up and ripened as they should. Still, as it's now December they have to get on with the job and so, as we walk along the paths among the groves or drive the lanes, we now see babushka-clad heads on bodies bent double as they lay their nets, or gather up the precious little globes which will keep them in oil for the next twelve months, hopefully. The men are busy with the "agitators", those long poles on the ends of which are revolving splines to disturb the upper branches and thus encourage the olives to break free and fall to the nets below. These machines, for those who can afford the powered ones, spin to the rhythmic humming of a small petrol generator, which is usually perched on the back of the pickup, which is frequently driven deep into the grove and far away from the road, to service every possible tree.

For us, December is a time to kick back a little. We've started our period of making long walks. Already we've done the walk up to Asklipio village to collect our mail, only to find on this particular occasion that, had we telephoned first we'd have known that Agapitos and Athanasia were out harvesting their olives and wouldn't be open during the daytime for a few days. Never mind, it gave us an excuse to go and sit in the small traditional cafeneion at the other end of the square, where the proprietor, a thirty-something Kyrania served us our coffees and sat with us a while. When we apologised for not having graced her establishment before (in more than six years!) she was kind in her response. We told her why we were usually to be found patronizing the Agapitos taverna along the way and she told us that she knew. Athanasia, after all, was her cousin. Seems Kyrania knew us before we knew her. We assured her that, after having passed a very pleasant half-hour chatting with her, that we'd certainly come again, especially after she explained how good her pizzas were.

Across the way, under the shade of a huge tree, sat three ya yas outside the only store in the village. The store's proprietor, a woman in her fifties I'd guess, was spoon-feeding one of the ya yas with her lunch. Seems she'd had a fairly major stroke or something.

The above was earlier during the past week. 


Last Saturday though (December 3rd), we decided we needed a good long walk and so hatched the idea of walking to Glystra Beach. This is a pleasant walk along the small coast road, which is virtually deserted of traffic at this time of the year. The road is never more than a few yards from a gloriously unspoilt beach, sometimes shingle, occasionally pebbles, but often of fine sand and backed by low dunes, partially covered with scrub and, of course, the road itself. The walk from our house to Glystra takes about an hour and we headed down on to the beach itself for the last leg, just as the road diverts inland away from the beach for a while and leads up toward the Imperial Hotel Reception area. At this point there is a lane running down on to the beach and we followed the beach along to and over the small headland that projects into the sea at the southern end of Glystra beach itself. This way we approach the beach through the undergrowth and across a couple of small dunes.

Here on the beach, we were amazed and pleased to find that, apart from one Greek, who was towelling himself off beside his 4x4 at the far end of the beach in preparation for his departure, we had the entire beach to ourselves. With the temperature around 22ºC, we quickly changed into our bathing cozzies and charged into the sea, which, granted, does feel a bit chilly on first contact with the skin at this time of the year, but after a couple of minutes is fine and we swam a while before hunger drew us back ashore to tuck into our boiled egg and mayo bread rolls and a flask of coffee.

 The birds on the rocks are herons by the way

This beach is well populated with sun beds and umbrellas during the season, but now, well, you can see from the photos above. We often remark on days such as this that were this a June day in the UK the beaches would be packed to the gills, we'd have had to pay a small fortune to park had we brought the car and there would be ice cream vans and hot dog stands everywhere.

I was going to call this post, "Don't look if you're easily depressed", but that would have been mean.


  1. What a brilliant blog! Your description of the 'sky at night' left me feeling as tho' I, too, was gazing at the heavens, in all their enormity (is there such a word?) I take it you are not involved in olive harvesting this year yourselves, or are you saving that for another day? As for the change in title, good idea, considering in the UK some poor souls are now suffering snow and freezing temperatures! On the other hand, your video clip is the kind of thing that inspires one to get on and make that booking for next year!
    All the best to both of you, have a lovely the sun1

  2. Glystra beach certainly looks a lot quieter than when we walked by it lol. So lovely to see Rhodes out of season, thanks as always for sharing the photos and yet another delightful blog filling me with warmth on this chilly December day