1700 – Living on the edge and leaving Nea Skiti

Till the end of times we will remember that night in Nea Skiti. In the small room there were four beds, but no room to move. The four beds filled the whole room. We removed one camp bed temporarily to have space to move. There was an open fire. But no logs to feed it. There was central heating. But it had a time clock; it worked for a half an hour after a well-deserved rest period of one and a half hour. The rest period seemed much longer. The floor was built directly on the rocks. It felt like living in a refrigerator. There was a one brick wall and no isolation. We burned some candles but that didn’t heat up the place. There was a sip of whiskey. But too little to warm the body. The toilet had no light. But there was a light on the corridor.
Schermafbeelding 2015-03-24 om 20.43.34Luckily we didn’t lose our good spirits.

There was one bed in another room only slightly smaller than the room on the picture. I slept in that separate room with all my clothes on under a pile of blankets. After a quarter of an hour in one position I became warm. Moving position was not very tempting. It was like old times, frost-flowers on the windows. A good exercise in humility and gratitude.
Schermafbeelding 2015-03-24 om 20.48.25In the middle of the night the two brothers found comfort together. They used a mattress as their top blanket.
We woke up totally refreshed and full of energy. We packed, said friendly hello goodbye to our ponytailed host and walked slowly down to the pier.
Schermafbeelding 2015-03-24 om 20.44.19The top part of the house where we stayed. Next to it was an enormous banana plant, which looked lost because of the frost. It was not protected. The bell tower of the church can be seen in the depth under the house.
Schermafbeelding 2015-03-24 om 20.44.44The amazing collection of birds cages on the terrace below. The passion of the old monk whose hospitality we had enjoyed. The path down to the harbour is stairs only.
Schermafbeelding 2015-03-24 om 20.59.48
Waiting on the pier for the boat to pick us up. The sea was calm. There would be a boat. But not at the expected time. We had quite some time to look around.
Schermafbeelding 2015-03-24 om 20.45.09Some of the houses on the harbour front are built right on the edge of vertical rocks. There are ample signs of landslides. Along the landslide a light fence is erected. The door of the left cabin seems to lead directly to the abyss. What would be the effect on their psyche, I murmured. The monks who live there must have full faith. Some said that our walking trip in the snow was risky. But what about living there? Living on the edge. Most of the snow was gone. But the erosion of the rocks will continue the next years and the next centuries.
Schermafbeelding 2015-03-24 om 20.45.38We interpreted the arrival of a muleteer and five mules as a good sign. The muleteer rolled a cigarette. A tramp asked the man for a smoke. We had met the tramp before on a snowy path. He asked us for cigarettes as well. He got a cigar, for which he was very grateful. He didn’t wait to enjoy it. Later in Dafni I saw him again, smoking again. I noticed that he got free rides with ferries. What a kind of life would he live? Scrounging for a smoke and some food at monasteries and skites. He must have had a cold night as well. Maybe with the mules in a stable.
Schermafbeelding 2015-03-24 om 20.46.29
Schermafbeelding 2015-03-24 om 20.46.48Finally the Micra Agia Anna arrived to pick us up. It took us all the way to Nilos and then back to Dafni. But when we were back in front of Nea Skiti the engine was stopped. The captain offered us sweets, opened the door on the front and invited us to take pictures. We floated for about half an hour on a quiet sea. He was waiting to pick up a monk. In Dafni we had coffee and rolls in a warm and comfortable café before the big boat, the Agia Anna, took us back to a different world.

Bas Kamps

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