Easter Break in Kerkyra
We are confined to the boat today as it pours with rain outside; the rain that makes this such a lush green island. We arrived just over a week ago and have been having a lazy time of it, or rather I have. Andy always finds something to work at on the boat and the forward ‘heads’ have been causing him much consternation. However, fingers crossed, they are fixed and he has done a myriad of other things to do with fuel and engines, solar panels, fire extinguishers – guests worry not we have safety in hand – not my domain.
Wildlife as usual provides a lot of amusement. Dogs - I saw a dog the other day, a large and noble black hound seated behind the wheel in a battered car for all the world as if he was about to drive off only he was looking a little embarrassed as sticking out of his mouth were the twig like, lifeless legs of a small bird. He gazed at me mournfully, rendered speechless, as to open his mouth would be to deprive him of his prize. Sea Lions – yes sea lions. Imagine our surprise to look off the back of the boat and find the friendly face of a sea lion waiting to be fed. We soon arrived at the explanation as last year we had been surprised to hear the distinctive sound of the trumpeting sea lion. There is a sea lion cage off Vidho Island and the tourist boats go by and I think there is a little show although I have never seen it. We imagine that our sea lion must have escaped from there as soon there was a little boat and a chap at the back throwing out tiny silvers of fish and calling ‘come on Simba, good boy!’ And Simba the idiot fell for it and followed the trail back into captivity. Part of me had been wishing him freedom but having been used to captivity he could never have fended for himself and so I guess it was best for him.
At this time of the year the blossoms are out and the smells divine. Old fat lemons and oranges cling on to the trees, last year’s crop and now there is new blossom on these trees. And there is jasmine, wisteria and lilac adding to this lovely aroma
For the Easter weekend we sailed Selkie Dancer around Vidho Island to anchor under the Old Fort of Corfu Town. This is a BIG festival in the Greek Orthodox calendar. The churches are very open and informal, contrasting with the formal ritual. The ritual proceeds like a constant, repeating motif while underneath and above the notes of a melody play around - the deep solemn singing, the kissing of the saints relics and images, the placing of candles, people wandering in and out, children in buggies, mobile phones in use, people greeting each other while glimmering candles against shining brass and silver set the backdrop. The churches were busy bustling places. We went down to the port and watched while the processions gathered, the bands, the youth organizations, local worthies. Most people carried candles and this was one of the abiding images of Saturday night as we watched from the boat and listened. There appeared to be hundreds of fireflies on the road up to the Spianada but each was a person carrying a candle, their faces lit as they listened to the priests singing the service in the run up to the joyous moment ‘Cristo Anesti’ – Christ has risen and the bells ring out and the fireworks explode above the fort and around us.
Saturday morning was pot throwing – we tried to think of the symbolic meaning to this act but according to locals it is because they are happy! You feel happy – you smash a pot, or a glass, or a plate. After all we know that in Greek restaurants they smash plates don’t they? Well here on Saturday morning high up on the balconies the windows are open, the sills draped in red cloths, people gathered, pots painted red, plain or decorated and written on according to the whim of the owner are waiting, The crowd below throng the streets, frantic whistles are heard while the police try to keep the streets clear because on the hour the bells will ring, there is a swell of noise from the crowd, a rumbling that increases in excitement and then – CRACK!!! The first of many pots slams into the pavement breaking into hundreds of pieces. Large pots, small pots they fly through the air – it is amazing to see them hurtling randomly from all levels and the noise when they hit the ground and the cheer of the crowd as a particularly large pot crumps onto the tiles below. It sounds like a battle and later we see what Andy describes as collateral damage to the flower pots that were in the line of fire, demolished now, earth spilled and plants scattered. After ten frantic minutes the streets were awash with cracked pots and you could hardly move for the crush of people.
The moat under the fort where we take the tender when going into town is such a magic place. Grassy underfoot and showing a wealth of colour in the tiny wild flowers that abound at this time of year. There is a row of fishermen’s huts built into the base of the wall – very basic structures. They remind me of wooden beach huts at home. Plastic chairs under make shift awnings, cats everywhere, reclining in the sun, lying rampant, playing, stalking, ever present Greek cats. Little fishing boats bob in the narrow strip of water while others lie on the grass. Old men gather to chat and the women come down in the summer to swim. At this time of year it is a cool and noticeably quiet place once we have descended the steps away from the noise of the town – an uncanny hush that in the height of summer simmers in the sweltering heat.
Six months on we met Katherine, as she likes to be called, and her father Sakis who took us out for a meal. If you read our autumn account you will remember how we pulled her out of the water where she had been all night. We were amazed to see that she still had her foot. At the time we had not been aware of the extent of her injuries, broken ribs, arm and the foot. There had been a long period of intensive care both here and in Athens, some lengthy operations resulting in a difficult time for the whole family. But we were heart warmed to see her – looking fantastic, full of life.
Jinti and Andy
The Liston - a great spot for enjoying Corfu
Click on the anchor for May and June