We will never forget the friendly and helpfull Father Gabriel of hut nr 6 of Lakkou skiti where spend the night (see 1669). Before we left the skiti he gave us detailed information how to find our way to Provata over one the most beautiful monopati’s of Mount Athos.
Soon after leaving the last building of the skete we found the turn to the left: at first the path starts as a dirt road. To my disappointment they are working with a shovel on the road leading into the Cucuvinu valley (photo 1).
Now we really entered the Cucuvinu valley: we heard the name of this place from Father Alexi, who lives in the house on the opposite site of the valley:The kelli of Father Alexi: later that morning he told us that the valley was called after a cuckoo, because it was “only accesible to a cuckoo”. He also explained the reason to build the house in this pristine part of Athos: the path was so narrow that only one person could pass, so it gave a good protection against pirat-invaders.The view towards the sea/Morfonou: here Athos’ nature is really overwhelming!
After the descent the path is barely passable.At the bottom of the valley flows a quiet stream: seldom I have been on such a desolate place, where hardly any people have been (spot nr 3).Lush waters flow downstream………After a short ascent uphill we reached a stone wall with a source (spot nr 3).This well was build in 1889. In this document you read more about Cucuvinu: the ruins of an older convent called Cucuvinu were bought by Rumenian monks in 1869 (page 193). Prodromu and Lacu hermitages and also Cucuvinu convent were severely damaged following the earthquake during the night of 26–27 October 1905.The source is still in use and the next picture shows that a settlement was nearby, because we saw a peach tree with fruit.Green peaches near the soucre.A gate showed up (at nr 4) and soon vines appeared.The kelli of Father Alexi with vines in front of it.Father Alexi, 85 years old, asked us to sit down and he made us a cup of coffee. Because we were sweating and our shirts were wet, he kindly brought us some of his coats.The winter coat from Father Alexi (in 22C!). A minor thing was that the coats did not have seen a washer since – lets say – the last 40 years, so a certain smell was quite strong presence!
But that didn’t change the mood. Father Alexi, although he did not speak English, wanted to know everything about us. To our surprize we found out that he was born in Moldavia and that Provata is in use by Moldavian monks, learning a new lesson for me: yet another nationality inhabites the Holy Mountain, besides the Greek, Serbs, Rumenians, Russians, Ukrainians and Bulgarians!
Wim Voogd, 15/3
(next time a tour in his house)