Ho ho Yogi Bear! I am having a terrific time!
Donkeys have become a part of my life all of a sudden. First in Navarro when I discovered horsemeat and donkey meat were sold in butcher shops for human consumption. Donkey was viewed to horsemeat as veal is to cattle meat. Now donkeys in Santorini.
Before I made the trip, many told me to be sure to ride the donkeys up and down the hill. The hill that in reality is a mountain of lava.
I saw the donkeys yesterday for the first time. I was taking a walk along the other road. The road that runs between the cave hotel apartments and lesser accommodations. Actually the other side of the road is where the working people of Santorini live. Much like Stock Island is to Key West.
All of a sudden, I came upon eight donkeys on the side of the road. All saddled up and ready to go. What beautiful animals! I am a horse lover of sorts. The horses that race at Saratoga. Especially up close. Magnificant beasts. So too were these donkeys. Beautiful shiny coats. Ears standing straight up. Big bright eyes. Muscular legs. Very muscular.
These donkeys carry people up and down the side of a nearby lava mountain. On a path running along the side. Along a five foot wide path has been constructed 2,000 feet plus long. It consists of 500 plus steps. The steps of varying widths. A short 3 foot wall on the ocean side.
The ride did not appeal to me. I did not wish to be an ass on an ass. I was fearful of either the donkey or me or both of us falling over the wall. I raised that issue with the man in charge of the donkeys. I think I insulted him. He told me very firmly that no donkey or person had ever even fallen off the path into the ocean.
The path was made of dirt and rocks.
I had Nikos give me a ride in his car down the mountain.
The volcano sitting out in the water is like a magnet. It draws me to it. I have decided to visit the volcano in the next few days. I want to look into the opening and its depths. I want to view the smoke and sulphur and whatever else my eyes can see.
The volcano is not too high. Most of it sunk into the sea. So I should be able to walk to the top.
There is an added attraction. There are springs periodically spraying water and smoke. Baths from the emissions are available on site. I want to bathe in these waters. Supposedly healthful, I will be doing it merely for the experience.
Sanrorini is the largest of the several islands which were born 3,500 years ago when the volcano had its major eruption. It is big. How large, I am not sure. Larger than Key West I do know.
The whole island has a mere 13,000 permanent residents. Compared to Key West which has 19,00.
Santorini is the name of the whole island. There are several villages and towns located on the island. I am staying in Oia, one of those towns. People are nice here. Just as in Key West.
I spoke of beauty parlor proprietor Catherine Risvani yesterday. Catherine owns the only beauty shop in Oia. One to a town, I guess. Called Hair & Soul. It is a beautifully done small place. Two chairs, two sinks, a manicure station and a counter. Two lovely ladies working for her. Catherine gave me a manicure this week.
Catherine is lovely in appearance. A typical Grecian beauty. Tall, thin and blond. Hair swept up and somehow tied in back. Interestingly, I have yet to find a Grecian woman who wears her hair down. Catherine also has high cheek bones. Another trait of Grecian women.
The bill for the manicure was 20 euros. About $28 american money. I was out of euros. I asked Catherine if she took credit cards. No. So I took out one of my $100 bills and told her to hold it while I went to the ATM machine for euros. She would not take the $100. Strangers though we were, she trusted me. In a tourist town. Typical of the Greeks here.
Which brings me to Nikos and Maria. Proprietors of my cave accommodation. Nikos and Maria are around 60. Own the Filotera Cave Houses aka Filotera Villas. A superior accommodation. Consistent with historical Santorini.
They and their son Adonis work their asses off. They have staff, but work along with staff from very early morning to late at night.
When I first arrived and met Maria, she was in a dress and apron. Smiling always. She does not speak English. I no Greek. Yet we have had several conversations. Each of us has spoken our native tongue. We understood each other!
I figured after first meeting Maria that she was the typical Mama Mia. A dress and apron. Always cooking and cleaning. Always watching the grandchildren.
Was I wrong!
The next time I saw Maria she was in peddle pushers and a tee shirt. Directing the employees.
Nice people these two.
It was Maria’s birthday the day I arrived. She sent a piece of birthday cake to my rooms. Nikos picked me up at the airport. Nikos drives me where ever I have to go. And picks me up. Their caves are lovely and clean. Very clean. Take a look at them. www.filoteravillas.gr, www.filoteravillas.com and www.santorini.com/hotels/filoteravillas. These sites will give you a flavor of cave living. They will surprise you!
The second day here, their son Adonis showed up with a bottle of wine. He said it was from his father’s vineyards. A special brew. Please enjoy it. I did, the next day. A cross between a white and red. A distinctive special taste.
Yes, Nikos and Maria besides owning the cave villas also own a vineyard and wine producing facility on Santorini. They ship world wide.
Nikos and Maria live across that street I mentioned earlier. In a small apartment less accommodating than the caves. In November, it gets cold on Santorini. They move to their home on the other side of the island. When it gets colder, they move to their home in Athens. During the winter months, they generally take a one to two month trip to the Caribbean or South Pacific.
It gets better.
Santorini and the Greek isles are not the United States. Many amenities we are accustomed to do not exist or are not provided. Like my clothes getting washed and ironed.
I was warned before I embarked on this odyssey that such would be the case. I came prepared. Purchased shirts and shorts at Orvis. That special material that is light, easy to wash and dry. Generally requiring little or no ironing.
I wash my own clothes. For real. Easy. In the bathroom sink. Drop some dishwashing fluid on the clothes. A bit of water. Wash with my hands. Then shake dry.
The clothes still need hanging. Dryers are not common place on the island. Could not hang the clothes in front of my cave accommodation. It would not look right nor would it be proper.
There are clothes lines across the street at the cheaper accommodation. I hung my first washing there to dry. When I returned that evening, Maria came out to greet me. She insisted on ironing my clothes. My saviour in disguise!
If you ever plan to come to Santorini, stay with Nikos and Maria. You cannot do better. Their telephone number is 003022860 71110. Fax number 003022860 71555. E-mail Filotera@otent.gr.
Enough for today.
There is much still to share.
This afternoon I am going to a beach somewhere on this island. Where I am guaranteed seeing bare breasted women. And, if I am lucky, some bare assed ones.
Enjoy your day!