String and Ben joined us for a week, not an auspicious start when we were stuck in thunder and lightning off Vidho Island. However it was spectacular to watch and magic when we happened to look out of the window at the same time as a bedraggled little kingfisher was swept on to our guard rail. Before the storm had set in, we walked onto the island to explore the installations that had just been completed by a group of Russian and Greek architects. The idea was to choose a philosophical theme and represent it through sculpture in nature. It was charming, magical, quirky and talented. We admired their creations; a bathing hut set tantalisingly too far out to reach, we tried out bamboo loungers set against the cliff, walked through mirrored mobiles studded with roubles, climbed up onto a structure that reminded me of something out of Peter Pan and we lay, each in our own hammock, in a shady dell of trees and chatted - philosophically of course.
Every day was different. One day we were swimming in torrential rain, the next we were sailing through waters swollen and discoloured by fast flowing mainland rivers with branches of trees, autumn leaves, plastic bottles and roots which led to many false alarms of ‘turtle’ as, in excited anticipation, we turned the boat to witness a bit of nature only to find ourselves earnestly examining an old root. We did recover a large watermelon in a copy book ‘man overboard’ drill. We returned to Pagania near the Albanian border and the BBQ had its usual effect – it was too windy and we couldn’t light it! Here we were fascinated by the colony of storks or herons that inhabited the trees by the edge of the water, their strange cries and ungainly take off and landing belying their graceful flight. In Mourtos we consumed cocktails and pizzas and paid an exciting visit to Peter’s Place the jewellery shop and on our last night we visited the rooftop of the Cavalieri before a brilliant meal served by Ukrainian and Albanian waitresses.
On the last day of their visit we were anchored underneath the Old Fort at Corfu town, it had been a very pitchy and rolly night. In the morning I spotted what I thought was a man swimming behind some rocks but it soon became apparent that it was a girl and she was in some distress. She was calling out and with horror I realised that I had heard that same sound in the night but not recognised it as a call for help. Andy and I got into the dinghy and went apprehensively towards her. She was just a young girl, eye swollen and scraped. We hauled her in and saw that she had a very bad injury to her foot. It was at an unnatural angle and there was bone and tissue emerging from the skin. We got her to shore by the yacht club and an ambulance came. I went with her to the hospital. Soon after I returned to the boat we were whisked off in a police car to give statements. They were of the opinion that it was a suicide attempt. The next day we went to the hospital to see how she was but were unable to see her as she was in intensive care. However we met her father who was convinced that there had been foul play and was threatening to kill whoever was responsible. Having heard nothing more, we visited again a week later but were told that she had been transferred to Athens. This suggests that she is both alive and getting expert treatment. We would like to know the outcome. The Old Fort now holds a rather sinister air that will not lift until we have positive news of her and who knows if we ever will. Her name is Ekaterini.
Corfu is a green and lush island. The Durrell brothers wrote beautifully in their different ways about it. Their books have been good pointers of what to be aware of and to search out. Tall dark cypresses spike through the dense covering of myrtle and olive, it reminds me of Tuscany but this is Greece and Corfu is compact and contained. We love it. We have done all the ‘touristy’ things. We have braved the tortuous road that leads to the highest point, the top of Mt Pantokratoras. We have watched the sun set at Pelakas, visited the Achilleio - the retreat of Elizabeth Empress of Austria in the late 1800’s and on the way back from Paleokastritsa (hilltop monastery and stunning coastline) and Angeloscastro (Byzantine Fortress), both magical places, we were hijacked! At a junction of roads a little old lady peasant flagged us down. We stopped and had an animated conversation in Greek. The upshot was that we had to buy some of her produce - honey, herbs and olive oil - Gotcha!! The deal concluded, we rounded the corner to find yet more old ladies accompanied by some of the halt and the lame of that place lying in wait. However armed with my thyme honey passport all I had to do was lift my carrier bag, point to it, put thumbs up and they understood. The enterprise economy is alive and well in the hills of Corfu.
The twisty narrow roads have you breathing in as you turn corners and pass close to walls. Villages cling to the hillsides and time stands still in some. We pass an old man on a donkey and a woman in headscarf and traditional black with a large sack of herbs slung over her shoulder. Everything is preparing for winter. The dogs lie in the middle of the road in the still warm afternoon sun; there are autumn colours and the smell of wood smoke in the air. Oranges and pomegranates hang heavy on the trees and black netting is being pegged out underneath the olive trees in readiness for the harvest. Olive forests are what they have here in Corfu. They are the stuff of fairy tales, trunks dark twisted, their sightless eyes populated by imaginary beasts. Unlike other parts of the Mediterranean the olive tree here is left to grow and is not curbed and then beaten for its fruit but allowed to follow its own devices hence the netting to catch the ripe olives as they fall.
We are in Gouvia Marina and Selkie Dancer will stay in the water over the few months we are away. Yoghurt and honey will give way to porridge, Greek salads to lentil soup and shorts and t shirts to simmet and drawers and it is time for us to go.
Andy will return in January and we are determined to be here for April when the spring comes and there are spectacular Easter celebrations.
Hope to see you then
Jinti and Andy
25 Oct 2010
.. each in our own hammock
... too far out to reach
Jinti and Ben turn wine into water !!
at the Achilleio
View of Selkie Dancer (and the Fort) from the rooftop of the Cavalieri.
a brilliant meal