The beauty of Tinos lies in the fact that it has remained untouched by the mass tourism of other islands. Its lies in its bareness.
DAY TWO: THE TINIANS
Prologues have been consumed.
They cannot always substitute the topic.
He must decide whether he can
hold on to this absolute idea
even if he has ceased to believe in its power.
August Meditations – Haris Vlavianos
THE SIMPLE LIFE
It was a question I was to find myself pondering often over the many days to come, as with each passing moment, Yann showed me how easy life could and should be. To put it mildly, I am flabbergasted, not only by the lifestyle but also the island.
The beauty of Tinos remains untouched by the mass tourism that has affected other islands such as Mykonos. It lies instead in its bareness, the type that encourages one to simply let go and breathe.
It is nevertheless also like a beautiful woman who dislikes posing for photos. I had seen many wondrous ones during my research for example, yet nothing could compare to its splendor. Even with the billowing wind that skips along the sea. At times, it hits with such force that it forms widening craters in the waters to mark in its place, moves earth, stone and man in its wake; a symphony of movement riveting to watch, though chilling to feel.
Having only brought thin clothes, I was not prepared for its strength. Yann loans me a sweater to cut its chill, however, as we depart for the day. The wind howls as we drive along the coast, frightening even the mountain goats that bleat and scramble to seek shelter in the abandoned pigeon houses and stony crevices. It is a savage morning, nature at its most primitive.
Nowhere is this truer than at Livada, a wild oasis of monumental rock sculptures cast upon the beach like the fossilized remains of ancient gods that leave me both humbled and awed. Engraved upon its colossal stones, I see the slithering trail of dying sea snakes leading to a watery grave, pre-historic chameleons resting in fetal position, forever immortalized in its last position of rest, the head of giant winged birds and now extinct sea creatures.
The waves crash and pound loudly against the shores of the beach cove as Yann tells me that the valley of Aeolus lies behind, the god of the wind, whose howls seem to haunt the valley in eternal mourning of those passed away. I shiver, terrified as well as enthralled, as I take in the scenery.
In quietude, we drive back along the coast past Tsiknias, the mountain where the throne of Aeolo supposedly lies, and Kolibithri Beach, where Drakonissi –Dragon’s Island – looms beneath the azure sky to Volax, our next stop.
There are several things that make this village unique. First, there is its small, stone amphitheater, reminiscent of Roman ruins. Secondly, it is unique for its breathtaking landscape and strikingly tenuous position atop a stony hill. Thirdly, there is the unexpected and initially disconcerting, then wondrous stream of poetry with which the multi-colored doors of the village are laden.
Of a sudden, I begin to feel as I have been dropped into a novel J.R.R Tolkien or discovered Carroll’s Wonderland. There is even a stone house filled with drowsy kittens and wildly potted plants where I imagine even the Mad Hater might have chosen to live. Its smooth stones of its tiny streets and alleys wind from one end to other of the village in twists and turns that boggle both mind and eye.
It is striking against their whitewashed walls and blue doors and, like with Sky Villa, once again appear to blend seamlessly into the landscape. The houses themselves also serve as a tribute to tradition, in particular their masonry, which Yann tells me cannot be found anywhere else.
Our next stop is Kolymbithres Beach, otherwise known as Surfer’s Paradise. One can see why immediately, it being perfectly situated in a cove where the waves roar in from Drakonissi or Dragon’s Island, an immense stone rising out of the midst of the sea. There is something equally poetic about Kolibithri as well, perhaps due to its perfect symmetry or the way land and sea curve into each other like drowsing lovers holding hands. I am silenced, struck deaf, dumb and blind by its unassailable pulchritude and the sheer power of the nature once again beneath the ever-present pigeon houses, looming as always majestically overhead.
That night, I am even happier to return to my temporary home. The sky is alight with so many stars, I can see down to the sea and the waves as they hit upon the rocky shore. As usual, it is quiet as well, which allows me to process all that I have seen for although I had witnessed much in my life, never something so stupendously grand. This is Mother Nature in one of her finest moments, when creation has reached its penultimate best. And while I sleep, its enormity invades my dreams to dance.
COMING UP TOMORROW: PART III