Today was packed full of good stuff. Vangelis had family things to attend to, so we got a new guide, Vicki (Americanized name), to show us around Naxos. She arrived late in the morning, around 11:30, so we got a late start and some time to sleep in after staying out until 3am watching the World Cup.
First thing we hit was the Temple of Demetri. It was the place of a secret cult, like the other Temple of Demetri we saw, so it was walled in with marble so no one could see the rituals inside. Vicki told us that these mysteries probably had something to do with people doing drugs and being told what would happen to them after they die (Demetri cults focused on the cycle of life and death). Both Ariadne and Persephone were worshipped here because they both found life after death. This temple, like many we’ve seen, was later converted into a Christian church.
After, we drove to the village of Halki and visited an old olive oil press. Vicki told us about how the press worked and the state of agriculture, especially with cheese and olive oil, in Greece. Then we walked a bit to the workshop of a ceramicist who still uses the oldest methods of creating pottery. He is 4th generation, having made pottery himself in the same way and place as his forefathers for 35 years. He first sculpts, and then leaves it in the sun for 2 days. Next, it goes in the oven for 6-7 hours at 1000 degrees Celsius, and stays in the oven for another 24 hours, and then comes painting and glaze and oven again.
This potter showed us many different traditional Greek pottery, such as the sphoune and a common bird call whistle toy. He also showed us the oldest mechanism of distillery still in use in Greece, for Raki. In addition, we saw a Pythagorus cup, which uses a mechanism that, if you drink more than you’re supposed to, you lose all that you have. I bought a lot of stuff here. It was awesome. Like, way too much stuff…oops.
Next we went to a Kitron distillery in Halki. It uses a lemon-ish fruit’s leaves to create a liquor that is either yellow, clear, or green from strongest to sweetest. I tried the green kind. It was strong but yummy.
After a quick lunch, we drove to see an ancient kouros statue that had been abandoned when it was being worked on and appeared to be broken. It is about 4m long and is unfinished, since the statue would be finished after being brought to its destination. Only major carving took place in the original spot, and anatomical details would be added later. The Germans tried to take this kouros during World War 2 and then found it was too large and left it, breaking the leg in the process. The kouros was absolutely huge and very cool to see. It gives you a glimpse into the process used to create these massive statues we’ve seen in museums throughout Greece.
Next we hit the Plaka beach and saw a cool Mexican restaurant there. As we drove home, Vicki told us about the curse of Ariadne. Ariadne committed suicide when her lover left her, and cursed the island that anyone who comes to it either a) leaves a piece of themselves and must come back someday or b) never leaves. I’ll go with either of those options. Sweet curse, yo.
FUN FACTS! FUN FACTS! FUN FACTS! FUN FACTS! FUN FACTS! FUN FACTS!
1. Good quality marble will glow from sunlight, so even locked inside the Temple of Demetri you can see.
2. When transferring large pieces of marble works, 2 boats would tie the piece under them and drag it along in the water, with weights balancing out the other side. It was too large a job for only one boat.
3. Marble from Paros and Athens is more intricately carve-able because it’s less powdery and pumice-like. It holds a cut a lot better. Naxos marble primarily used for rougher, simpler, but larger works.
4. In Greece there are more than 42 different varieties of olive tree.
5. Acidity is the difference between virgin and extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin has almost no acidity.
6. The people of Naxos have very long lives, a lot of the time more than 100 years old.
7. Archaeologists at the National Archaeological Museum hid all their statues by burying them and kept them from the Germans. Barnes, if/when you read this, will you send me the link to that article? It sounds cool.
8. Back then and still today, when you hit a vein in marble, you put wood in the crack and pour on seawater to make the wood expand.
That’s all I got today. Now, for All The Feelz
Well once again I’m falling asleep writing this but I am absolutely wonderful right now. The island and beaches are beautiful, the people are kind, Gordon’s Space is in my hand, and things are awesome. Every time I think about leaving, I get a slight panicky feeling as well as an overwhelming rush of sadness, like a wave of the sea washing over me with its sticky shitty Missouri-ness. The transition from this to real life will be difficult. I am overwhelmed by my unwillingness to believe I’m leaving. Sigh.
Tomorrow is a hike. The hike is supposed to be very hot and very difficult. I am still on the fence about doing it. I want to, but I also don’t want to get overheated and feel like shit on my last few days in this country. It is a once-in-a-lifetime deal, though. I set an alarm for tomorrow at 7am just in case I get the urge to go. Doubtful, but we’ll see. If I don’t go, I’ll sleep in and sit at a cafe for a few hours. Who knows. The world is my oyster.
❤ ❤ ❤