“The winds blew down from Africa…” Joni Mitchell
We took a bus trip to Paleohora on Sunday; the name means “Old Place”. It was an hour and half ride over the White Mountains to a beach town on the southern coast of Crete. The narrow road was all switchbacks, and dropped off steeply to one side. The hillsides are about as steep as one can get and still be called “hills”. There were constructing bridges across some of the ravines to take out some of the hairpin turns, and to make the road a little wider. It became a one-lane dirt track around the same tight corners; our driver used all parts of the road to get us there. Some roadsigns just had an exclamation mark in a triangle; I felt that same way.
Olive trees are everywhere, with netting underneath to catch the fruits as the trees are beaten with sticks, or they fall naturally. November is olive harvest month, and many workers go from serving tourists directly to picking olives.
The bus stopped along the precipice several times to take on and discharge passengers. There are little chapels beside the road, no bigger than a doghouse or a mailbox, and shaped like little churches. Some of the rockier hills are covered in gray plants. Other fields held very short grapevines.
We swam in the waves in the Libyan sea, in warm breezes coming across from Africa; it must have been close to 80 degrees. We ate in a taverna, on what was their last day of the season and made a sumptuous meal of little things. We walked past an old castle on the hill, and gazed at the mountains plunging into the sea; we could really see why the pirate Barbarossa loved the place.