May 12, 2014

Climb to the Chora

The Chora is actually
Serifos, the ancient capital.

My intention when I started out today was to gain a bit of altitude on the road to the Chora and sit on a wall somewhere and write.  Well, little by little by little, I kept going and when I was at least halfway, I thought well might as well go for it.  The altitude gain from sea level is 585 meters or 1919 feet with the distance of 5 kilometers or 3 miles plus a few hundred yards.  Didn’t seem like much.  Well, HA!  Damn near doomed me.

The Walkway to Chora
The path is a mixture of roadway and stair climbing that takes you past a few churches, past the one room schoolhouse, through the narrow streets of this ancient place.  There are surely people who live up there and have never come down to the port.  Wind predominates and has the sense of closing one off from the rest of life.  It reminded me of the wind in the movie “Black Narcissus” with the howling of it and the buildings clinging to the edge of the cliffs.  Some of them appear to be quite unstable. 

The Schoolhouse
The Walkway to Chora

At least three times I thought I would die, but turning back would have been equally problematic.  
Going downhill is far more difficult on the knees.  I stopped to rest numerous times, but the stair climb was relentless.  I thought I’d really have to get to the top to ride the 4:00 p.m. bus back down to Livadi.  The bus ride takes 15 minutes.  I stopped in a taverna and had a lemonade, chatting with the 31 year old handsome Greek who has lived on the top for 2.5 years.  He spoke enough English, as most people do, to have a simple conversation and share the basic ‘where are you from’ kind of thing.  The minute he looked at me huffing and puffing as I reached the near top, he immediately handed me a glass of water, and this helped me revive.  I never did get to the very top which was another 100 steps.  It would have been completely foolish and would have tempted fate.  I’ll take the bus up the hill next time, perhaps tomorrow to see the very top and to see the archeological exhibit.  I was the only one walking up although I passed several people who were headed down.  

A bit precarious with some serious erosion beneath
these houses.  Trouble is when you get to the top,
you don't know whether you are sitting in a
taverna that is one of these buildings.  Scary!!
A sweet old man was also waiting at the bus stop and another man with a donkey came back and forth several times hauling gravel up the hill.  Well, his donkey hauled the gravel, three buckets on each side of his pack.  I couldn’t photograph it; sometimes it’s just too rude to do so.  The old man motioned for me to sit beside him on the bus and then we made a stop at the school to take the grade school kids back down to the port.