Monday, November 23, 2009

Kalymnos - The Final Chapter

Our time in Kalymnos is coming to a close. We’ve got just under one week left before we start our arduous journey home. We leave by ferry on the evening of December 30th and travel to the island of Kos where we’ll board a plane for Athens. Early the next morning (6:00am!) we board a flight to Amsterdam where we have an 8-hour layover. We plan to take the train into the city centre and wander, which Elise is very excited about, especially since we’ve promised her a lunch of Dutch pancakes! That afternoon, we board a 9.5-hour direct flight to Vancouver and arrive home in the mid evening…phew!

Here is Elise playing on our deck with her Polly Pockets and plastic sharks. She likes to make “tide pools” by putting her shells inside a bucket of water.

These are a couple photos of the castle ruin above the village of Hora. This was the ancient capital of Kalymnos due to its strategic position above the cliffs. I guess the port town of Pothia (now the largest city) would be a much more vulnerable position for attack.

The last 2-3 weeks here have been superb. The weather is absolutely perfect for climbing (clear, breezy and cool). Here is a photo of an Australian girl on a route called Gaia at Odyssey cliff.

This is Pam on a route at Arhi cliff. The interesting rock (limestone) is visible in the background.

We’ve still managed to swim on the warmer days. In fact, yesterday was very warm – warm enough for Elise and I to spend 15 minutes in the water “snorkeling” together (i.e. wading with our faces in the water). We saw a lot of interesting fish, and when I flipped over large rocks, all kinds of crazy sea creatures burst out (black urchins, stringy starfish and bizarre slug-like centipedes). In the deeper water, I cradle Elise so she floats on her belly and can look at what’s below. She loves it, but gets cold really fast. Her entire body starts to shake, but she doesn’t want to quit. I’m the one who has to pull the proverbial plug.

These are photos from inside an ancient Necropolis above the beach. I guess this is some kind of tomb, and they are scattered throughout the island.

The evenings here get longer and longer with the wintery darkness and lack of other climbers to socialize with. We go for walks, play games and Elise does lot of drawings (a favourite pastime). I brought a copy of an old favourite movie of ours, the Big Blue, since it’s partially based in Greece. One evening Elise asked if she could watch some, so we let her and it turned out to be a big hit! The movie is a romantic drama based around the obscure sport of free diving and has many scenes with dolphins and interesting sea creatures. (There are also a lot of great on-location sets in Greece). Elise really enjoyed the novelty of watching a film with us and we finished it in two evenings flat. We’re now onto our fourth (yes, fourth) viewing of the same movie and she knows all the characters and sequence of events by heart. There are a few underwater deaths in the movie (nothing morbid) and that took a bit of explaining. She seemed satisfied with the idea that the men in question had gone down to the bottom of the sea to “live with the mermaids”. If you haven’t seen the Big Blue, check it out. The landscapes in the Greek islands are very similar to what we see around here.

Elise continues to climb up a storm! She did three different climbs yesterday, including her trickiest yet. The intimidation is gone, and now the only hurdle seems to be getting her to concentrate on what she’s doing (she’s easily distracted) and actually try some different climbs. We’ve watched her get great satisfaction out of mastering one climb in particular, Eumeo (see all the photos below of her going up and down). Since she’s working on learning her alphabet and sounds, we combine this with her climbing. At the base of each route in Greece, the name of the climb is painted on the rock, so we identify each letter together and then I sound out the word for her. She knows the names of all her climbs.

Here she is basking in the after-climb glow of success (sunset at Odyssey).

Here she is eating her post-climbing treat – a full box of Smarties for getting to the top of Argo (her hardest route)!

Our studio is overrun with cats and a few have taken to coming inside and trying to sleep on our beds (we let them from time to time). This photo is of “Enna” on our bed and, yes, she only has one eye, poor thing.

Here is a photo of Leo (the dominant male) and one of his progeny, Squirt, relaxing outside our room.

Elise is thrilled with the cats and told us she will miss them when we leave. The only downside is one cat in particular has taken to jumping into our window at 6:30 am (first light) and meowing loudly. Typical cat! We thought we’d left that aggravation behind when we left Squamish. This is a photo of the culprit, Bella.

After visiting the archeological museum, I decided I just had to see the cave that produced remains from the Bronze Age. Well, we found it one evening, but it was a bit of an adventure. The cave was in an obscure spot on the coast and, like most sites on Kalymnos, had no map or well-defined trail to help visitors navigate. I traversed along the rocks above the water while Pam and Elise stayed up high on the ridge. It started to get dark, we got separated and Elise got scared when Pam started yelling over the cliffs for me in concern. Elise started crying and said, “But, I love my dad. I love taking baths with my dad”. She was quite upset when I rejoined them on the ridge. All ended well…

This is the cave. It would not be a very nice nice place to dwell, but is very close to the sea.

A few evenings ago Elise and I went for a drive to the highest “pass” on the island where we visited a newly constructed church. The family that built it was there and welcomed us inside. Apparently, they built it as a memorial to their son, who was killed in a motorcycle accident at this remote spot, high on the island. They were expecting a visit from some local priests (the first time) and fed us Greek pastries. Elise and I took pictures and sat on the ridge and watched the sunset together (it was cold). I let Elise take some pictures of the sun with my camera, which delighted her because normally she is absolutely NOT allowed to touch my camera. She wants to take more…

We’re following the flooding in western B.C. and are not relishing the thought of returning to the wintery and wet weather. However, it will be nice to be in our own surroundings and to re-connect with friends and family. We hope you are all doing well and look forward to catching up soon.


No comments:

Post a Comment