Sunday, 10 February 2013

Names and Natural Phenomena

In the piece "Weather or Not", which I posted on January 30th, there's a photo showing the castle taken during a recent walk up to Asklipio to collect our mail. On that particular day we decided to take a stroll around the village but only got as far as the Nikolas Taverna...

Photos of Nikos Traditional Taverna, Rhodes
This photo of Nikos Traditional Taverna is courtesy of TripAdvisor

...where, sitting out front on the wooden terrace, we spotted the diminutive and ever smiling George, who owns the Pelekanos taverna [Pelican's Nest] on Kiotari beach, sitting with his uncle, whom we'd met previously at the Gre Cafe [mentioned in two posts, this one and this one] down near our place some weeks back. He and his wife had not long retired and moved back to Asklipio from Canada, where they'd lived and worked for a few decades.

The two men arose as one and displayed all the body language that suggested that they were expecting us to park ourselves at their table with them and so, naturally, we acquiesced, as you do. An animated discussion soon ensued in which George told us about a fishing expedition (it was this big, yea) and why he'd decided not to open the taverna this winter. He'd tried it last year but with limited success and so it wasn't worth his while. This sparked further talk about how little extra cash locals have available these days and thus it also came around to us asking how the taverna got the name.

Well, we kind of knew that it was because his surname is Pelekanos, but that in itself had always puzzled us. It's a very common surname around these parts and yet doesn't sound particularly apt. I mean, the etymology of the name isn't obvious right off the bat now is it?

"Aha," said our friend, "it's an old Greek word and relates to the kind of work done by my ancestors. It's actually one of the oldest surnames on the island."

"So, what does it mean then?" we asked.

"Literally, Ax-man. My ancestors were tree-fellers. If you look up the word 'πελεκά' [peleka] it still means 'ax'."

"But," said Maria, "I thought someone who works with wood was called a "ξυλουργός [xylourgos]."

"Yes," said George, "but that means carpenter or joiner. An ax-man was a 'pelekanos'."

Of course, it all made sense then, because, recent fires aside, along with several hundreds of years of deforestation, the south of Rhodes is thankfully still blessed with huge pine forests, where the deer still find refuge, even today.


Changing the subject completely. yesterday I snapped a photo of an interesting phenomenon, which we often see during the winter months, where the sea assumes the appearance of two entirely different liquids for anything from a few hours to a few days. We've gazed at this on many occasions, but haven't really got an explanation as to why this happens. Take a look...

The sea nearer to shore has that wonderful turquoise colour that makes it appear as though the bottom is pure white sand, like on a tropical island. In fact there are a few locations down the east coast of this island (in Psaltos Bay for example) where this is the case all year round, but here in Kiotari the bottom is more the darker sand and rocks - yet here was this well-defined line right across the bay which demands one's attention.

Just wondering if there's an oceanologist (or anyone with an 'ology' for that matter) reading this who can explain it, perhaps?

Anyway, a little milk, no sugar, but a nice digestive biscuit with mine please...


  1. Sorry I've no idea what the two tone sea is called John, but I would like to say that Nikolas taverna looks very smart with it's new 'deck' I hardly recognised it!
    We, too, are having a cuppa...............just waiting for the double choc cake to come out of the oven, digestives are so last year!

  2. The apparent colour of the sea is different along the shoreline mainly due to a difference in density of suspended particles. In the case of the photo, the density of suspended particles is greater, and the light is bouncing off what is probably sand (as you said just like on a tropical island).

    Although I am not a trained oceanographer, I have an endless fountain of useless information, which I'm happy to divulge in full or in part on your blog.

  3. Thanks James. Now, I've always said, "you've got to look out for your density of suspended particles!!"