Today is my last full day on Zakynthos, a medium-sized island in Greece. I’ve been staying in a small town called Kerri, at a house up on the hillside, overlooking the small bay below. Ancient olive trees cover all available space; there is one growing in the middle of the courtyard where we sit in the mornings and bask in the sun–my friend’s parents could afford the land but not the tree, so someone else comes to cultivate it each year. I suppose I didn’t realize that the trees were so methodically shaped and grown, or that they were such a precious commodity, especially when they approach a thousand years old, such as the tree down in the village. The trees here grow smaller olives with bigger pips which make them hard to eat but they are fantastic for making olive oil.
It’s been a fairly slow few days, as a holiday should be–mostly eating, drinking, and swimming. The beaches are mostly white pebbles and are a bit rough on the feet, but I managed to find some nice, small round ones for a backgammon set yesterday. The water is still fairly cold, but clear and blue and we took a boat out yesterday to cruise around the coast. Zakynthos, like most Greek islands, is a karst landscape, made out of limestone. One sheer cliff had thousands of layers in it, millions of years of geological time.
The house I’m staying out doesn’t have power, much less internet, and it’s been relaxing to get away from the hundreds of departmental emails and the constant noise of social networks. The candle-lit dinners and improvisational cooking have been nice features–buying fresh ingredients every day instead of relying on a refrigerator. Warm showers would be nice though.
Tomorrow I’ll be off to Athens for a short day in the city, then to Amman to start work once again. It’s going to be hard to leave!