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distance of the house. We haven’t been out of Vathy, the "bay within a bay" that is the capital. So Katerini has offered to drive us around the island, which includes fourteen villages. First stop is the monastery in Kathara, up treacherously rocky and narrow roads. There are crosses erected to indicate where people have died on the roads.
    Sophia’s mother was married relatively late, and at 36 found herself unable to conceive, so she took a three and a half hour walk up the hill to the monastery in honour of "Jesus’ Mother" (as I so often heard her called there), to light a candle. Perhaps it was doubly significant to her, because she herself is Maria, so Mary is also her saint.
    The following year she gave birth to Sophia.
    Outside the monastery there is a sign—in Greek, English, Italian and German (reflective of the different periods of occupation of the island)—which reads: "Please the ladies don’t come inside to the church with short pants. The place is a holy place."
    And right outside: "Please close the doors because the goats come inside."
    On the way down we stop in the village of Platrithias, at the Folklore Yard, established in 1957 by eccentric Ithacan-Australian journalist and poet, Efstathios (Stathis) Raftopoulos.
     Platrithias is an uncharacteristically fertile area, where the Melanidros or "blackwater" spring, having therapeutic qualities, is said to have restored Homer’s sight. According to Homer, this is where Odysseus lived before he left to fight the Trojan War.
    At the Kalamos Well, we drink the only water we’ve been able to drink on Ithaca that hasn’t come from a bottle. The plaque reads:

Welcome Stranger to Kalamos Well
Bend and drink from your cupped hands its ice cold water
Breathe in around you the holy fragrance
And you shall return again to Ithaca

The Folklore Yard is quite literally that. A plot of ground, much like a cheerful graveyard, which is home to a number of statues of Odysseus and company. One gets the impression that Raftopoulos felt Odysseus and Penelope needed a symbolic burial ground where people could come and pay their respects. But instead of tombstones, they are accompanied by plaques with often quite amusing dedications. One such proclaims:

    The only monument in memory of a lunatic

    Could this be to Stathis himself?

    Another reads:

    In Memory of
    My Mother Hariclia 1900 - 1956
    My Father Spiros 1893 - 1982
    And to all Parents of the World
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