One solitary streetlight shines on the corner where the road twists as it comes downhill to run alongside the sea and passes underneath Stelios' taverna and rooms above it, which is where we are staying, in Triopetra. The taverna is of course, closed just now. The roof above the patio is of frayed, discoloured straw. Two large terracotta pithoi stand outside, in front of the taverna, by the steps. The paint on the signs has faded and is almost illegible, with faint pink and green tones. Everything left untended seems to merge into sand colour, return to its original shades, varying from the bleached flax colour of dried stalks to the light brown of salted wood. On the beach too, the small pieces of wood, broken branches, forked, splintered, rounded, have forgotten their tree origins and turned into separate objects, become themselves, smooth, apart creamy and sea tumbled, tossed, worn, polished into being. Letters and fragments, runes and geometry, waiting to be placed together, to form a new whole, of angles and alphabet, shore script, patterns tossed up by the sea.
The patches of sand are as thick and soft as sugar, your feet sink into them. But the round stones of all sizes are flattened into disks, imitation oyster shells, uncorrugated, hardened droplets of sunlight, cooled on sea surface, than sank to the bottom, and thrown up here, on the shore. They fit in your palm, they are made to be held, to be thrown out to sea, to come back, and grow warm in the sunlight again.
After two days of wet and cloudy weather, on the following morning there was brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies. I set off early, following the road that led to Akoumi beach, on the other side of the three rocks that jut out into the sea.
I walked past the farm, turning left at the fork. A shepherd comes down from the slope with a flock of sheep – cream, beige, brown, a few black. Tinkling of bells. A couple in the rear stop to argue, butt their heads together a few times.
I walk slowly behind them. The shepherd, walking jauntily, whistles now and again. The sheep follow. All the way down to the beach, where they go off to the grassy area on the left. I walk along the beach to the right, a long wide beach.
The road I followed has continued as a track, concrete-surfaced but covered in sand. I make my way back to it and about a kilometre further on, it veers sharply to the right up a hairpin bend, and turns into a surfaced road. But straight on ahead is a rough track, or the remains of a track, which looks much more inviting, so I follow it. It climbs up a mountainside, gradually.
I look down on the beach.
At the top of the hill the track turns away from the beach and heads inland. And it soon joins up with the road. Which I imagine is the road I'd left behind. At this crossroads I sit down, eat an orange I brought with me. No cars pass.
The sun beats down. I turn left and follow the road downhill, to another fork. One road going close to the sea, the one straight on, uphill, is signposted Spili. There’s an old abandoned church, with big cracks running down the walls.
I turn back. And this time, take the road, just to see where it goes.
Eventually, after many hairpin bends, it leads back to the track along the beach.
Where Triopetra’s three rocks can be seen from the other side, and even more clearly.
On the road, only two or three kilometers to go now, I sit down for a while. And listen to the different sounds – one cricket, and then another. A chirp chirp repetitive bird, another one that’s melodic, an occasional seabird, sounds of sheep...