In Defense Of Paradise
Where are they going then — Fleecewear the bathrooms ” The affable owner of the sanitary ware store in London’s Gloucester Road cheerfully inquired. golf stone island I hesitated.
“What’s the address is what I am asking,” he insisted. “Effectively, you send them to Eugenia Chandris, Super Paradise, Mykonos, Greece,” I replied reluctantly foretelling his disbelief. “You’re having me on”, he remonstrated, meaning I used to be taking part in a joke on him.
“No, really I wasn’t. There are no addresses in Mykonos, just places, magical places like Paradise and Super Paradise — Kalamopodi and Plindri within the native vernacular but who will be bothered with the proper names when such celestial onomatology is accepted by all
The absence of addresses is in conserving with the chaotic topography of the island. It is a place of geological wonder formed from huge sepia-colored rock formations, sculpted varieties which squat across the panorama like large rotund artworks in a gallery of wind-blasted fields the place stubby stone partitions can hardly stand. People say that the frenetic power which infects everyone on Mykonos exudes from these very rocks. The road network, labyrinthine and haphazardly indicated and heavily punctuated with potholes butts its way via these hefty boulders disintegrating into curves that are dangerously near the outlines of abode-like houses. These roads result in the island’s two important destinations. These are Chora, which sounds phonetically absurd but is definitely hora in Greek, that means ‘town’ on 95 % of Greek islands, and Ano Mera which implies upper place and refers to the only Mykonian village, an unremarkable clump of buildings highlighted by a 16th-century monastery and a large sq. which experiences trample-prone crowds at Orthodox Easter.
So there are not any addresses and signage is scare. Tourists wavering between delight and confusion ceaselessly lose their way and in a variety of languages beg directions as I jog and huff up the hills on my each day run. Houses where celebrations are held tie balloons, ribbons, or tulle stripes to electricity poles to point where the party is and hosts send their guests texts of Proustian length to direct them to the appropriate house.
One instruction you can not use as reference is a tree. The arboreal circumstances on Mykonos are pitiful. I once pointed out that the best civil service job would be in the Cycladic Forestry Commission as most of these islands are practically bald. There are a couple of stately but solitary palms in Mykonos, numerous Mediterranean pines but otherwise scrappy vegetation and oceans of quivering bamboo and acacias beat to an almost supine angle by the wind. What wind!!! It blows, whistles, moans and howls over the rocks without cessation. It sucks up leaves, dust and plastic bags which float into your house, whips the sea into an aquamarine froth which frequently prevents ships from crusing and makes touchdown on the airport a vertiginous experience. I speed up up hills when it is behind me and use it as a resistance running device when it is against me, gusting into my face, threatening to rip my skin with more wrinkles.
Mykonos all the time seems to invoke seismic reactions which may be categorized both as a shot of admiration spiked with jealousy or as bristling indignation. The envy is usually from Northern European friends who are enduring another soaking summer and who have seen Mykonos ranked yet again as the most well-liked island vacation spot. The rolling of the eyes and indignation normally comes from my compatriots.
Initially they snort with disgust and pompously counsel alternative islands… “Oh Antiparos is so far more exclusive now”. They then point out the island’s defects with lightning speed, their phrases tipped with venom. They strike one defect after the opposite off their critique list: beaches overcrowded with writhing, oiled our bodies gyrating to deafening music, suicidal driving techniques, unbearable traffic and elusive parking spots, bars and restaurants that are astronomically priced and an attitude of reckless superiority which impacts everybody from the drunken vacationer to the sullen and disgruntled waiter who’s sadly in hazard of turning into a Greek archetype.
So why am I defending an arid cluster of rocks. My fanaticism begins with the physical.
Mykonos combines a boisterous blue sea crested with foam, clusters of white washed houses with uneven plaster walls, beaches of soft sand licked by turquoise water, inland meadows with the total bucolic state of affairs of horses, cows and child lambs with grass and poppies as a bonus in spring. Added to that is the pace, energy and demanding entitlement of a mini Manhattan. Whether you desire Ouzo (the local drink) or Cristal champagne, a meat skewer of souvlaki on pita bread or salmon sushi, leather-based sandals or a Louis Vuitton bag, you will get it.
There’s one distinctive characteristic that’s past touristic magnificence or industrial allure and that is the light. I have never seen it elsewhere — piercing, crystalline, revelatory.
The cerulean canopy of sky and the luminous energy it radiates should do with an uninhabited rocky outcrop crouching low within the churning seas, just a few kilometers away. The sacred island of Delos is as very important to Greek mythology as the oracle at Delphi and the Cycladic group of islands which includes Mykonos derives its very identify from it — the island’s kind a cyclos (circle) around Delos.
Historically and archaeologically Mykonos was and is completely eclipsed by Delos whose focal point is the sacred lake where the nymph Leto gave birth to the twin gods Apollo and Artemis and which continues to be guarded by the world famous row of snarling marble lions.
At one time, it was a place of sprawling market places, colonnaded walkways, theaters and outlets where maze-like streets were dominated by porticoed villas whose vividly hued mosaics evoke the suddenly extinguished glory of Pompeii. Whereas that city was obliterated in hours, Delos’ decline was more gradual but no less dramatic. No one was permitted to die on the island as not to sully the pristine light which characterized Apollo. Death was dark anathema to the Apollonian culture and as the risk of death in childbirth was high, births were not permitted there either. So Delos had no native citizens and thus itself died out. Deaths and births had been exiled to the neighboring island of Rhenia. Throughout a very contrary history, Mykonos was an inhospitable exile for disgraced Roman aristocracy and was occupied by the Venetians, then the Turks, was burned in World War II and was always poor.
Yet Mykonos survives, even in this time of national economic crisis. The island celebrates itself with reckless enthusiasm, around the clock. Visitors are normally in one in every of two states: hungover or inebriated. Revelries stop round eight a.m. when the few eager runners or yoga devotees are saluting the sun. Stores in town operate with similar alacrity and are open in summertime until 1 a.m. in contrast to many other islands whose operating hours are sluggish at best. The vary of out there wares is impressive. Cuban cigars are squeezed between newspapers and chewing gum within the pavement kiosks and supermarkets sell gourmet products from premium UK food stores.
Instead of road rage there is road relaxation. A variety of motley autos are deployed on the streets — quad bikes mostly but also bicycles, tractors, a few antique cars including my own, even a donkey on the quieted tracks. Tricycles generally carry goats, pigs and hay and snuggle next to preposterous Hummers and Range Rovers on the method to city.
Admittedly with its fame came over-improvement, excessive costs and an urban bustle paying homage to a small city. Yet you can get away — jogging along gritty dirt tracks where you can smell fresh thyme bushes, sliding down rocks to private coves the place you’ll be able to let the solar drench your skin and swim in a sea which is numbing or invigorating depending on your interpretation of cold. There really is a pelican guarding the port and the original Peter was brought to Mykonos from Germany in 1986. He is now joined by Georgia and they’re fed by the native fishermen who have a white marble stand the place they promote their catch. The port looks prefer it did in photographs from the sixties and is always lively even in December when it can be dusted with snow. You may have a fantastic daiquiri, watching the sunset in the Venice neighborhood and/however you too can pick blackberries in October on the dirt road to Fokos beach.
In town, sophisticated stores are interspersed by solemn churches whose interiors emit a rosy glow of candles and silence in the din. The city homes sit with their doorways open, the inhabitants sitting quietly at their desk the ladies often in black, unfazed by the craziness on their doorstep. I still get a nod or a hug from the people I have known over the 43 years I’ve been visiting the island and i value that. Every St. Eugenia’s day and on Christmas Day which follows it, wherever I’m on this planet, I’ll get telephone calls from the individuals I co-function with there. My special favorite is Mr. Aris from OTE (phone company) and that’s how he announces himself.
One of the best strategy to see Mykonos is at sunset with its characteristic wind mills jutting out darkly towards the crimson sky and it is also best to see it in humorous perspective… At some point a long traffic jam occurred at the main intersection. Locals have been cursing and vacationers fretting angrily because the blocked street led to the port a technique and to the airport the opposite. Each were blocked by a stray herd of voluminous and lazy cows sauntering along the tarmac as if at pasture.
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