distance of the house. We havent 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.
Sophias 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 signin Greek, English, Italian and German (reflective of the
different periods of occupation of the island)which reads: "Please the ladies dont 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 Homers 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 weve been able to drink on Ithaca that hasnt come
from a bottle. The plaque reads:
Welcome Stranger to Kalamos Well
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:
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 only monument in memory of a lunatic
Could this be to Stathis himself?
In Memory of
My Mother Hariclia 1900 - 1956
My Father Spiros 1893 - 1982
And to all Parents of the World