Rosy spires of drowsy bees

The spring sunshine is sparkling on the water and the muted ochres, yellows and creams of the houses gleam like old gold. Birds are twittering on the electricity cable that swoops across the view from our office window and small bright fishing boats putter across the strait between Harani and Nimos. White sunshades shield dozing bodies as the siesta takes its toll. No matter how hectic it is in the office, the view from the window never fails to delight the eye.

Symi is drifting gently from winter's green to the burnished hues of summer. As the fields and terraces turn to gold a whole new source of colour arrives in the form of vigorous vines and effusions of oleanders. The geraniums are exceptionally bright this year and their mauves, pinks and scarlets are postcard perfect. Wild hollyhocks lurch in surprising corners, rosy spires of drowsy bees.

The gypsy hawkers who earn their living by travelling the rural areas of Greece, bringing to islanders and mountain folk the kinds of things they cannot easily buy locally, have switched from the gum boots and tracksuits of December and the plastic tablecloths and housewares of the Lenten spring clean to Cretan pots of various sizes, garden furniture and nursery plants. Three such trucks arrived in convoy this week, bearing everything from wooden restaurant chairs to ropes of garlic in addition to cast iron Chinese benches and a veritable forest of bay and lemon trees. The Roma population of Greece does not have an easy time of it and, for many, home, when it is not the cab of a pickup truck while travelling the island circuit, is in one of the appalling shanty settlements on the fringes of the large towns of Crete and the mainland. As communities like Symi become more affluent the locals have more money to spend on the things these people bring, but they also have better access to what is available in the larger centres such as Rhodes, so in many ways the market for the Roma hawkers is diminishing. It would be a pity to see this cavalcade fade away, not just because unless the Roma adapt to an alternative way of life they will suffer even greater hardship, but also because they form a last link with the splendours of the caravanserais that used to criss-cross the Mediterranean and the Middle and Far East all the way to China.

Have a good weekend.


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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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