Friday, August 1, 2008

Days 2, 3, 4, and 5 (Chios): A One-Track Mind

Chios is a medium-large (as far as I can tell by Greek standards, anyway) island in the eastern Aegean near the coast of Turkey. The island's claim to fame is the mastic tree, a small shrub-like evergreen that when wounded produces a sap used as, among other things, varnish, chewing gum, and body lotion. (There are even mastic-flavored yogurt and soda.) While mastic trees grow in other locations, the one that produces the valuable sap grows only on the southern side of Chios.

The summertime population of Chios, according to a local source, is almost four times its winter population (can that really be or did I misunderstand?), so making a living there isn't easy if you don't farm. A lot of people live in Athens most of the year and spend their summers on Chios running a business catering to tourists. Happily, there are few tourists on Chios and most of them are Greek. (In fact most Americans haven't even heard of it.) Knowing this in advance, I worried Chios would be lacking in the natural beauty we imagine when we hear the words "Greek island." Happily again, I was wrong. For four days in a row my only concern was getting to the beach (and hoping my camera battery didn't fail me). Here I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Vroulidia beach

Vroulidia water

Vroulidia rocks

Vroulidia sunset

Mavra Volia part 1

Mavra Volia part 2

Mavra Volia cliff

Emporio harbor

Agia Dynami from above

Agia Dynami lagoon

Agia Dynami water

Only in trying to do a little retroactive Chios research did I discover that that on Chios there is a UNESCO World Heritage site -- an 11th century monastery called Nea Moni -- which apparently has some of the finest mosaics around. I LOVE mosaics, so to have missed seeing these makes me hurt inside a little. I would have skipped the beach one afternoon in a heartbeat to go to Nea Moni.

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