Everyday Life on the Small Island of Symi

A rainy May day on Symi. The harbour was full of disconsolate yachtsmen in shorts and wet weather jackets when I came down this morning.  Yesterday there were gale force winds and the Dodecanese Seaways catamaran was cancelled because of the storm. Today there is no wind whatsoever, just steady rain...  Not much fun if you have chartered a boat for a week!

The view from my office balcony this morning.  

Floral tapestry by the bus stop in Chorio.

Peripatetic garden centre.  When I first came to Symi there was a constant cavalcade of hawkers, travelling round the islands selling everything from sensible knickers and watermelons to hay and garden furniture. Their numbers have declined in recent years.  It is a very hard way to earn a living.  Ferries have become more expensive and scarce.  Bureaucracy has become more complicated.  This colourful - and convenient - feature of island life is disappearing.

Wild hollyhocks in Lieni.

Who, me?   A photogenic nanny goat posing in Lieni.  There are two of them.  Every morning their owner moves them along to another clump of free grazing.  Someone is no doubt making cheese from their milk every evening.

Oregano on the brink of flowering.  It doesn't seem like a year since I posted a photograph on this blog of this same oregano bush, covered in white flowers and golden butterflies.

Speaking of butterflies, there is a white one with black spots in this photograph.
It has been a stormy weekend with strong winds on Sunday and intermittent showers during the night turning into steady rain this morning. The weather is expected to lift this evening, clearing over night, but there may be more thunder showers later in the week.  The heat of North Africa meets the cooler temperatures of Europe over the Mediterranean, causing turbulent weather and thunderstorms at this time of the year.

Symi is a bit different to other towns in the world.  For example, let us take going to the bank, a humdrum business of bullet proof glass and anonymity in most places these days.  On one occasion recently I was in the bank and the postman came in, rummaged through his bag and gave out post to all the people sitting waiting.  On Friday morning, when the pensioners were queuing, waiting for the bank to open, one chivalrous gentleman with a big bunch of wild oregano was handing out sprigs to everyone in the queue.  When the bank opened, one of the lady pensioners carefully gave the bank teller a beautiful white lily which the teller put in a glass of water on the filing cabinet behind her. This was then joined by various sprigs of oregano from other pensioners.  And so the first banking day in May was celebrated.  Only once everyone was comfortably settled and greetings exchanged did the day's business transactions commence.  It is scenes like this that enrich everyday life here on the small island of Symi.

Have a good 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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