Karpathos Greek Islands tradition

It has the most amazing sea color, incredible beaches, but do not come for it. Here we come to love Greece, and breathe the Mediterranean as it was
Since I came back from Karpathos, there is an image that comes back to my mind. We returned after exploring the north coast and the island of Saria, separated from the main island by a thin arm of the sea, uninhabited if it were not for some goat and for 40 monk seals, which here, in this space of blue sea as few , they still want to live, sleeping in the deep and shimmering caves. The island is covered with woods and Mediterranean scrub, smells of helichrysum and cistus, has secret bays where the Mediterranean fishermen take refuge in their nomadic life.

It has beautiful beaches where you hear the sound of nothingness, waves and wind.

In Saria, in the cove of Palatia, Saracen pirates settled and the stone houses with their pointed domes are still there, under the sun. On the north coast of Karpathos walk like a dream in the ancient uninhabited city of Vrokounda, proceed on smooth stone paths and then down a ladder that descends into the earth, below, in the dark, in a sacred cave that smells of incense.

There is another desert country in this kingdom of sea and rock. It’s called Tristomo and to be honest, a couple of old people lived there a couple of years ago. Like everyone in these parts they had married on proxy, meeting on their wedding day. They got married early, women around 13-15 years old, and they were still there two and a half years old: they lived alone, without electricity, almost an hour’s boat from the first inhabited village, when the sea consoles it.

What have been said for all this time together is not given to know, probably the necessary, but we know that they did not need anything else. Every three days he went to the village to get something, besides fishing, a goat and a vegetable garden. Since his wife died – they told me – he has returned to the village, and so today Tristomo is officially deserted, there remain a handful of houses where we go as we do in Milan on Sunday we go to the countryside, to eat with friends. When we passed one of these houses had the doors open. Inside there was Dimitri, who was about seventy years old and worked all his life in a bar in Maryland, his wife who was carrying huge plates of pasta with goat meat sauce on the table, along with the freshly caught fried fish. Dimitri’s mother was on the sofa and a small fish was eaten. 95 years old, dressed in traditional costume, a black dress with a colored embroidered bodice, a hat halfway between the turban and the handkerchief. A couple of tourists sat at the table and ate together with Giorgos, the captain of the ship that takes visitors to Saria, then some French arrived, I presume they were on a sailing boat, and in the meantime we also arrived, with our guide, Dino, which manages the island’s only diving, manages the Marine Park that protects this sea and has great dreams for the (ecological) development of the island.

After a while we were also seated to eat, welcomed as you do in the border posts, where cordiality is the first word. Or as in ancient Greece, as told by Homer: unexpected guests were invited to participate in the banquet, and only after eating together they wondered who they were, who they were children, what sea they had crossed to get there.

Coming back to the sea in the evening, Dino’s little motorboat jumped on the waves, so high that it seemed strange to lie down as we passed. Then, it was now the sunset, we passed next to a wooden bar with a small engine. Above was a very old man who was fishing in the windward waves and beside his wife, dressed in black with typical clothes. It is this image that often comes to my mind, with all those that I gathered in a few days, between the most sensational sea color that the Aegean recalls, the beaches of all kinds, beautiful, the restaurants, the villages perched under the stars in the heart of the big island. But that there tells a special place as I believe few remain in our amazing Mediterranean. Here where everyday life is like that which has been going on for at least two millennia, where there are people and countries who live immersed in a tradition and culture that is there to give in, but which still remains strong, and is so old that you know which is also yours, and you can not help but love her.

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