Y'know, we've lived her nigh on ten years now and every single year, come March, we see the signs on the road advertising the annual orange festival in the villages of Massari and Malona and every year we say to eachother, "We'll have to go to that" and, prior to this year, we never have!
I dunno what it is about living where we do, but so often it's hard to motivate ourselves to actually open the front gates and get the car out when it's so much easier to whip up a frappé and sit in the garden. This year though, we decided that it was about time. The weather for the past couple of weeks has been really bright and mainly blue and more often than not very pleasantly warm out. In fact we've only had one or two rain days so far this month and the lane is already getting dusty like it is in high summer. They have forecast rain for this coming week though, so we'll see.
But yesterday, Sunday 22nd March, the day after the spring equinox, it dawned bright and warm and so we finally managed to get ourselves into gear and off we toddled to see the festival for ourselves. Oddly enough we had driven past once or twice over the years and seen the road littered with cars by the dozen, all parked in whatever space the enterprizing owners could shoehorn them into. This year, arriving ourselves with a view to seeing the spectacle, we turned off the Lindos-Rhodes main road at the first turning for Massari and, within a hundred metres or so were being marshalled by a ...well, a marshall I suppose in his orange coat, sunglasses and whistle into an adjacent recently-mown field where we had to take our chance at finding somewhere to get out the shoehorn; somewhere where we could hope to return to the car later and find it a) without a puncture from the very suspect ground beneath the tyres and b) still without a dent or scratch from someone slightly less careful than us.
Having slithered the car into a tight gap between two others and put away the tube of vaseline (only joshing, it was grease) we were soon strolling along the hundred meters or so of rural road to the site where the festival was taking place. People were still arriving by the shedload as we walked into the tarmac area on which the huge stage was set up for the dancing and around which were situated lots of stalls all offering orange-related wares. The photo above, for instance, showing that rather clever and quite engaging "flower" display made entirely of sculpted oranges, shows a stall where one could grab a plastic cup of freshly squeezed juice for free.
So, what else was there to see... I'll let the photos tell the tale...
|As soon as we entered the smell of roasting corn cobs tantalised out tastebuds. See the oranges still on the trees in the orchards beyond.|
|The displays of all things orange were pretty impressive.|
|First up on the dance podium, before the local dignitaries did their totally inaudible speeeches were the local kids of course.|
|...and waiting in "the wings" the slightly older dancers in their fetching traditional costumes.|
|Delicious orange fritters being prepared for the hungry hordes.|
|Can't begin to imagine how many dead pigs all that souvaki added up to. Most of the food was free by the way. You only paid for drinks, and they were cheap!|
|Local women were making fava on site...|
|...then making it available to the public for free, topped with grated orange zest. Flippin' marvellous it was too!|
|Our rather splendid and what's even better - FREE - lunch of fava, beans in tomato and herb sauce, fresh bread rolls and olives, washed down with some free orange juice.|
|The platform was almost continually drumming to the sound of dancers' feet.|
|..and everyone who had any relative up there of course had to capture their moment of celebrity in a photo.|
|Dunno quite why, but there were quite a few dances of Cretan origin too. Well, I say I don't know, but there are many people of Cretan origin living on Rhodes. See the Rhodes Trivia page, under the heading Kritinia.|
|Mandarins going mandaround a couple of palms.|
|Soon became quite hard to find somewhere to park your botty.|
When I was a nipper (as we used to say in the West Country), from the ages of 18 months until I was about 10, we lived in a small rural village several miles outside of my home town of Bath. I remember that my dad, bless him, was the one that used to organise the village's social calendar from a table upstairs in the pub over the road, surrounded by half a dozen snooker tables, which for most of the time were too high for me to even see the green baize. Once a year he'd arrange the village fète, where they'd have stalls selling local produce, a portable skittle alley around the business end of which there would be a protective wall of hay bales to stop them losing the balls, a coconut shy, one of those bell things where you'd have to strike a metal dome with a hammer and see if you could get that sliding thing to go all the way up to the top and ring the bell, ...you know the kinds of thing. I had a go at that bell thing and was rather dismayed to find that I couldn't even get the slider half way up. Mind you, I would have been still in single figures age-wise at the time. Why does this all spring to mind?
Well, as we were sitting there watching the local community display its dauntless spirit in the face of the current woes, I couldn't help but admire these people for their culture. These kinds of celebrations go on all the time here, especially during the winter months when they don't have to be at work seven days a week. Everyone and his mother turns out and everyone has a good time. There's scarcely any crime and just about everyone knows everyone else. Toddlers and kids of tender age wander around in safety and no one drinks to excess. Quite a lot of people came up to me and slapped me on the back and I'm dashed if I could remember how I knew some of them. I'm pretty sure I'd worked with a few on excursions over the years, but some - well, when one bloke who was busy making half a million souvlaki on the barbie high-fived me and said "Yianni!!! How you doing?" with a huge grin on his face. I found myself remarking in reply on what a nice day it was. The better half asked me, "Who was that then?" All I could answer was, "No idea! But he knows me all right!"
Everyone knows the dances and everyone sings along to the tunes they dance to. Fun though they were, my dad's village fètes were never like this.
As we finally left to make our way back to the car we were able to pick up a set of three respectably-sized geranium plants for €10 Euro (making a saving of the princely sum of 50 cents over the price from three individual plants) from a market gardener selling his stuff on the roadside. The blooms are a deep vivid red, a colour we don't yet have in the garden. As my wife selected the ones she wanted, fluttered her lids as she "darling"ed me 'cos she'd conveniently found that she'd left her purse at home, the man said to me, "Yea, you're always 'darling' at moments like this, eh?"