Friday, October 23, 2009

Kalymnos Part 3

Another week has gone by in Kalymnos and we are enjoying ourselves very much. The weather has cooled down a bit, which is good for climbing, but it remains sunny. I think there is some rain in the forecast, but hopefully it won't amount to much. Elise continues to have adventures and mishaps. The bed wetting occurred on two more consecutive nights. We've decided she's been drinking more water here because of the heat and activity and it's likely causing her the need to "go" sooner than at home. Plus, she's an incredibly deep sleeper. Parenting advice we've received instructs us not to get angry at her for this - it's not her fault. Instead, we just refer to it as her "accident" and have put in her in pull-ups for the time being. She doesn't seem too bothered by it and the pull-ups seem dry in the morning.

A walk through the port town of Pothia at night.

Sunset on a harbour on the north end of the island.

A small church. There are hundreds of these scattered across the hillsides. Some very elaborate.

Elise inside. She thought this was pretty interesting.

A behavior incident: Elise found the need to use profanity (I won't elaborate, but let's just say the grandparents would have been shocked) on two separate occasions. The first time she was spoken to, scolded and put into "time out", but the second time we decided there had to more of a consequence. Problem was, we had just arrived at a restaurant to meet with all our friends - not an opportune time for discipline. We decided she could sit in the car for a few minutes and have a time out. To make a long story short, she had a bonafide tantrum, something she's not done before. This shook us all up a bit, to say the least, but it seems that the process ultimately had the right effect as we've not heard that word again nor has any of it been discussed. Of course, she bounced back quickly (probably faster than us) and we all had a nice dinner.

On to nicer topics. We've been climbing at the Sikati cave and it's great. The climbing is amazing and the beach is even better. It's super clean, secluded and Elise loves the butterflies in the flowers and the shell hunting along the shore.

The Sikati cave.

The beach is incredible.

Elise doing a BIG rope swing.

Elise at the Sikati cave beach. She wanted me to take her picture near the butterflies.

Another day saw us explore an underground cavern. This was amazing and we had to descend two ladders to enter the chamber. It was laced with stalactites and limestone features of every description. As usual, Elise was a trooper and enjoyed wearing her headlamp and looking at the rock. Best of all, she liked climbing out the first ladder (with me behind) at the end.

Pam and Elise in the chamber.

Crazy rock formations.

Yesterday, I turned to Elise and asked "Do you want to do a climb?" Her immediate answer was "yes". I guess she's been watching us and was itching to try. Well, we harnessed her up and got the rope set and she literally flew up the route. This was her first bonafide climb. It was a route called "Finger Piercing" and is rated 5.5. It was probably about 50 feet high and she did it all by herself and lowered back down without incident. The group beside us from the UK was very impressed - especially because they had just finished the same climb! Truth be told, they were new to climbing so the route is very easy. Regardless, Elise was very pleased with herself.

Elise at the top of her climb. Look very closely! She's at the top of the gray rock in the middle of the photo.

We'll see what the next week brings!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kalymnos Part 2

Our second week in Kalymnos has gone by in a flash. We’ve enjoyed more hot weather and have spent much of our time in the water. It’s a little hot for climbing right now, but we generally go out in the morning and then spend the afternoon at the beach. This photo shows a climber in the Grande Grotta (cave).

There is a resident goat that comes to the cliff every day. He’s very punctual and you can almost set your watch to his approach up the barren slopes below the cave. People feed him - he’ll eat anything - and this perpetuates the problem. I’ve witnessed him put his face into a climber’s pack and rummage for food. Elise thinks it’s hilarious, although she’s seems a little fearful of him when we get close.

Our little apartment is comfortable and our little problems have been resolved. However, Elise pulled a first the other night when she wet her bed! I went to her to say good morning and she said, “Dad, I had an accident”. She sure did. We had to do some serious cleaning and devise a new strategy to help her out. We put a headlamp in her bed so when she has to pee at night, she can go without worry. This is exactly what she did the next night and we hope we’ve solved this problem. This photo shows Elise in her usual evening frenzy, just before going to bed.

The flowers in front of our apartment are beautiful. Pam could tell you what these are, but I can’t.

Much to Elise’s delight, there are many cats on the island, including a couple of families with kittens who live in front of our apartment building. Elise visits the cats every morning, and has become much better at approaching the animals slowly so as not to scare them off. It’s funny to watch – Elise creeping up on these poor cats in slow motion. She takes it all very seriously and gets very upset with me if I approach too fast and scare them off.

The sunset from our deck.

We’ve been doing a lot of swimming. This photo shows a concrete dock we discovered along the coast. It made a good staging area for swimming and snorkeling. Elise got in with her mask and saw some fish, much to her delight. It’s taken a bit of perseverance, but Elise finally started swimming in the Aegean a few days ago. When I say swimming, I mean she lurches into the water and flails her arms and legs, momentarily staying afloat between Pam and myself. Oh well, at least it’s a start. And she sure is pleased with herself.

Our demented child…

A sunset photo of Elise at the beach.

For the first week of the trip, we opted not to rent a car to save a little bit of money. Here we are boarding the bus for a morning trip into the island’s main port, Pothia.

The fish market in Pothia.

This village is old.

Motorcycles and scooters are the transportation of choice on the island. This one has seen better days.

This is the courthouse in Pothia.

The courtyard in front of the courthouse had an intricate stone patio. Elise ran laps around the perimeter of one of the circles.

We spent the morning wandering around, shopping and looking at sites. It was incredibly busy (and hot) so we took it easy and didn’t go too far. After a picnic lunch, we caught the crowded bus back to our village, about half an hour away. It was standing room only.

Another day saw us take a ferry over to the island of Telendos. This was a fun outing and we visited a remote beach on the island, had a nice dinner and then rode the boat home. Elise liked the boat ride.

This is a view of the beach on Telendos.

Elise napping at the beach.

Fishing nets on the dock. You can see our village across the water.

Sunset behind Telendos.

We picked up our rental car on the weekend. It was a bit of a relief to have transportation, both to ease the pain of hiking along the roads to the cliffs and to increase our flexibility for daytime activities. Our car is a Fiat Panda and is the smallest car we’ve ever driven, but it’s more than adequate to get us and our gear around the small island.

The day we picked it up, we took the car to a village called Vathy on the other side of the island. Vathy is a tiny fishing village with a rocky inlet. We swam off the dock, spotted fish and snorkeled in the bay. It was very relaxing and Elise enjoyed seeing the fish and a friendly cat.

We’ve enjoyed the company of other people while we’ve been here. Various friends of ours are here from Squamish. This photo shows us with Brian, Lana and their girl Anika at the beach and crag.

It was Anika’s first birthday the other day, so Brian and Lana invited us to their hotel for a pool party in the afternoon. The kids had fun and we enjoyed eating Greek pastry!

This is a photo of us with friends we met in France a few years ago. Brigette and Bernd are from Germany and it was quite a surprise to see them here. We enjoyed catching up and talked about future plans for a trip to see them in Germany.

Another couple we met and spent time with is Axel and Heather from North Vancouver. We climbed with them a little, had a few meals out and generally enjoyed their company. Unfortunately, they are leaving today and we’ll miss their company. They got engaged while they were here, and we are very happy for them. We look forward to spending more time with them in the future.

The weather looks a little stormy this coming week. Hopefully, the conditions cool off a bit for the climbing yet still allow us to swim. Stay tuned for more!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Journey to Greece

The final days leading up to our departure fly by in a flurry of packing, organization and last-minute attempts at enjoying the beautiful fall weather. We know that when we return the winter rains will have descended, so we attempt to relish the glorious early fall weather. The morning of our flight arrives, and we are greeted by plummeting temperatures and slashing rain – an appropriate change as we head for drier (and warmer) climes. As before, our friend Jeff Thomson graciously offers to drive us to the airport from his lovely home near UBC, and this makes the transition much easier on us. Thanks Jeff!

We have booked a total of four different flights to get us to our destination in the Greek Islands and it’s an arduous journey, to say the least. We start with a quick jaunt to Seattle and from there board the big plane for the big stretch to Amsterdam. Other than odd encounters with the surliest flight attendant I’ve ever met (we are on Delta, by the way) the flight goes smoothly. It’s a daytime flight so Elise is up for all but an hour of the journey, which minimizes our ability to relax and rest. We receive compliments from other passengers on how good she is, something we have come to accept and sometimes fail to recognize.

Pam and Elise napping in the airport.

The layover in Amsterdam goes quickly and we soon find ourselves on our third flight to Athens. Elise and I pass out, but Pam seems unable to rest. Once in Athens, Elise looks at me and says, “I don’t want to get on another airplane”. No kidding. Neither do I. Fortunately, the last flight is short (one hour) and we sit by the window so I can point out the Greek islands and boats in the Aegean sea, far below.

The island of Telendos, just across from our apartment in Masouri.

We arrive at the airport in the evening and our luggage starts to appear on the carousel. Pam comments, “If it all makes it after that journey, we’ll be very lucky”. She’s spoken too soon as our final bag (the one with Elise’s stuff) fails to appear along with many other passengers’ bags. There is a lot of shouting in Greek and then we are all escorted to a small counter to fill out forms for our missing bags. This airport is tiny and we are the only flight going in or out each day so we’ll have to wait for at least a day to get our bag. Suddenly, the carousel starts turning again and the bags all appear. More shouting in Greek! Somehow, they “found” the missing luggage. Where could it have gone? Ours was the only tiny plane in this tiny airport. Welcome to a new culture.

A taxi takes us to our apartment and we get set up. It’s a small studio with two beds (a double and a single), a small bathroom and a little kitchen nook. It’s acceptable and clean, but there are a few problems: there’s no hot water, the pillows on the firm (!) beds are hard as rocks and the lack of screens on the windows allow tiny mosquitoes to infiltrate the apartment as soon as we try to get fresh air. This affects poor Elise as she wakes with a number of tiny bites on her temple after our first night. A new pillow and screen on the window helps with two of the problems, but we are still without hot water

We get up early and head out climbing on day one, but all lack the energy for much of a physical outing. We call it a day at lunchtime and head back to do some more organization, let Elise nap and visit the beach, which is directly across the street from our apartment. Elise tests out her new snorkel and spots a number of small fish near the shore. Afterward, I bury her in the sand and sculpt a mermaid tail over her feet, much to her delight. We finish the day deeply fatigued and head home for dinner and an early bedtime. Elise and Pam sleep through the night, but I lay awake for hours, managing only three hours of rest! This is some of the worst jet lag I’ve ever had can only hope it improves quickly.

As the weather is quite warm, we plan to tour some of the islands beaches in the coming days and attempt to begin a climbing schedule, but fatigue and sleep will ultimately determine the outcome of that plan.


PS - The hot water has been fixed!!!