Blinding Sunshine

It is that time of the year where those of us who travel around Symi on foot shed layers as we proceed and wind up carrying more garments than we are wearing, while those who whiz around on bikes are dressed like Scott of the Antarctic with concessions to the Michelin Man. Blinding sunshine bounces off bright whitewash under a bruised purple sky and random raindrops spatter the dust on the lemon trees. Fleeting rainbows flash across the bays as yesterday’s southerly storms and subsequent mist have been replaced by brisk northerly winds and fast-flying thunderclouds. The air has cleared and the distant Turkish coast is a kaleidoscope of alternating light and shade.

The power is off once again today, in both Yialos and Chorio. Apparently most of Symi is being rewired and these disruptions can be expected to continue for some time yet. Some areas are also without mains water and the bus is out of circulation for maintenance. The philosophical are sipping Greek coffee in the sun outside Elpida’s, watching the clouds scud across the mountain top and discussing possible plans for Christmas and New Year which may or may not come to fruition, depending on boats, weather, shopping trips to Rhodes and other variables that inject an element of adventure into life on Symi in the winter. The butcher next to Antoniades’ hardware store has optimistically put up a sandwich board, requesting patrons to place their orders for festive pork, lamb, turkey and goat but the shops generally are cautious about carrying too much perishable stock in the light of the on-going power cuts.

Meanwhile in the Pedi valley the young broad bean plants are marching in staggered rows across the terraces, just visible above the encroaching greenery, and the locals are out gathering horta, an activity which requires neither electricity nor mains water – at least not in the gathering process. Shoots of fresh young wild chicory, nettles, dandelions, poppies, wild carrots – and a separate carrier bag for the succulent snails found in the process. On Symi the concept of living off the land takes on a very real meaning during the rainy season. The modern world may have brought mangoes and microwaves to the remotest islands in the Aegean, but the traditions that have evolved over centuries of hard living provide an insurance for survival independent of outside resources.

Have a peaceful week.


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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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