Herman Hissink (1915-2011) was a teacher in the Dutch language at the Christian Gymnasium (nowadays Gymnasium Sorghvliet) in the Hague, The Netherlands. From his early youth on he was very fond of traveling and nature. He told his pupils very enthusiastically about his travels and one day 3 of his students asked him if they could join him on his travels. With this first group (“oergroep”) he made trips on bicycle to France and Italy. In 1956 he went for the first time to Greece with 4 of his pupils. Tourism to Greece started on a larger scale in the late 70ties so it was rather unique to travel through the unspoiled country walking the monopatia with donkeys for their luggage. They made camp in proximity of the ruins, looking for fresh water and hiking in the mountains from village to village. These visits made him totally hooked on Greece. His students considered it an honour if Hissink invited them to join the group.
Hissink at the age of 90, portrait by Lidwien Chorus, 2005.
Herman Hissink visited Mount Athos at least 7 times, always in the company of his students. This was from 1969 till probably 1976. Two of these pupils who went with Hissink to Athos in the 70ties, Gerard Koolschijn and Wim Oudshoorn, I recently met in my hometown Haarlem. Gerard Koolschijn, who was principal (1984 – 1990) of the same Gymnasium in The Hague where Hissink teached for 36 years, is now a writer and published a book called Geen sterveling weet (No mortal knows) in 2012. This book contains a chapter with a very vivid account of his Athos travels. The following pictures are all made by Herman Hissink and were kindly given to me by Gerard Koolschijn to use for this blogpost. Many thanks.
Mr. Slotema, friend of Hissink and Gerard Koolschijn eating in Kavsokalivia in 1971 talking with a travelling monk who repaired watches.
Wim Oudshoorn is sitting on the left in Panteleimonos or Grigoriou and the students in another unknown guestroom.
Arsanas somewhere between Lavra and Iviron. Taking the small boat to Iviron, 1974
Iviron, waiting for the boat. Probably in 1969.
Walking the monopatia (1971), Karovastasi (1970), reaching Xenofontos (1971) at resting at Stavros (1971).
Hissinks students in 1970 posing in front of Simonospetras with Koolschijn on the right and Oudshoorn with the red T-shirt. In the orange T-shirt Dutch writer Nicolaas Matsier (Tjit Reinsma).
Panteleimonos with the students 1970.
View on Iviron 1974 or 76 View on Dafni and Xeropotamou 1974 0r 76
Panteleimonos 1974 (?)
Monk and his mule before the gate of skiti Podromou 1974 or 76.