Dragonflies, butterflies, lizards and cats.
It was yet another delayed rise this morning after last nights late adventures out for some night photography (which turned into an unexpected part 2 of yesterdays blog, just in case you missed it). My ambush this morning wasn’t kittens. It was lizards. About a dozen, like some fabulous piece of living mechanical clockwork, stepping in time to what I imagined to be music similar to Summer Of Love by Steps. I have no idea why, that’s just what popped into my head when I was watching. The tall trees sprouting roots between the rocks behind the apartment appears to be a great location for the reptiles to congregate. And dance.
The plan today (and these things were planned. Sort of.) was to head upwards. Downwards meant climbing back up again, and my lower half wasn’t prepared to get involved. The endless ruins in the old town above were full of textures and destruction, perfect for desktop wallpaper photos. The term “rat run” fits perfectly, with routes shooting off in different directions. I had hoped to remember some of the walk from Tuesday, but it turned out that all roads lead to the same place. Or someones house. The locals appear used to strangers pulling apologetic foreign faces before backtracking.
These unmapped streets could easily be the death of any foreigner. There are no sign posts nor does there appear to be any real route. Every so often a structure or home may have numbers above their entrance, a sign of some form of system to the chaos. Apparently this system came with the Italian occupation of 1912. Most of these numbers have been scored out, replaced by different numbers, and then another set. The numbers no longer represent anything other than history.
Looking around, I recognised other buildings but had no idea how to get to them. Some appeared streets away, others fields away. I figured an incline was only ever going to take me up to where I wanted to be, considering all the paths are just one long interconnected pavement. Eventually I found the church with the view…
For me, being up there created quite a bizarre feeling. I’m alone in the grounds of an empty church, high up on the slope of a valley, on an island, in the middle of the Aegean sea. And it was incredibly peaceful. Something I fear none of us experience enough.
The acoustics of Symi, where the smallest voice can carry a conversation from the streets down in the harbour right up to where I was staying, were taking a while for my brain to get used to. But up there in the church grounds, there was nothing. Literally, the only thing I could hear was the wind whistling past my ears. It was wonderful.
I spent a while standing in the sunshine and the silence, listening for anything I could hear. Very occasionally there was rustling on the ground as more tiny lizards bolted through the dust and dryness. They made me laugh, the way they would scuttle and stop mid-step, as if remembering some life-threatening information, before bolting off again. Perhaps to turn off the oven they just realised was still on.
Thinking I was alone up there was actually absurd. This little oasis was teaming with life. Birds would streak across the sky in flocks. Butterflies lifted from one thorn, drifting over to another. And dragonflies hovered close by. Closer than I was comfortable with:
I was up there for a while. And having stood with the silence on my own, quite aware of all the sins and immorality that go on around the world, I considered the walk home again. Following a whitewashed path around the church I came across a small cave I hadn’t noticed before. Initially it looked like a bunch of stones were piled inside, perhaps some homeless persons attempt at a place to start a fire. Then I realised it was something else. Persons unknown had made a ship. Out of broken stone and tiles, using wood for a tall sail, the ships bow pointed east. The same direction the little fisher boy gestures in the harbour. I was suddenly aware this makeshift monument might have purpose. Of this, I am unsure.
Further round below me, a dusty walkway presented itself. Treading carefully on broken stone on an unsteady slope I wandered down through some trees, with the inkling that I thought I recognised this place. It didn’t take long for the realisation to sink in that my apartment was a stones throw away. These trees were where I caught the dancing lizards. All this time, the place I was trying to work out how to get to was a mere two minutes wander through the trees behind the flat!
As the sun set on the fifth night of this holiday, I used the knowledge of the dirt path to run back up to the church when the skies started to change colour. It took me five nights, but here’s at least one shot of a beautiful sunset sky over Symi: