“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape”.
Since late last season I have been meaning to go down to Ammoudi to see what’s happened, but wanted to wait till the rains had eased. There have been changes down there…that much we knew, but I wanted to see it for myself and take some pictures for the blog…. so I waited till last weekend, for a glorious end-of-winter Sunday, to venture down to one of my favorite parts of Oia & Santorini in general.
For those of you in the Southern part of this planet I know it’s a scorching, wet summer…. but for the rest of us in the Northern part it is a completely different story. Some of the temps recorded in Europe and the US are nothing short of ridiculous ( how does -30 Celsius sound to you?). You can get a nose-bleed just thinking about how cold that is…. let alone have to live in it. But here on the island it’s a different story this year…. winter has not even arrived yet, let alone arctic cold. We have had nothing but sunny warm days and a couple of spectacular thunderstorms…. hardly a winter by European standards.
So on another magnificent Sunday morning I decided it was time to inspect the “changes” that had taken place down at Ammoudi. We decided to take the steps down (which have also been greatly improved and are looking better than ever after the work done on them all through last summer and autumn).
the house from the “Sisterhood of the traveling pants” movie is looking in need of a paint job…. but still beautiful as it basks in the winter sunshine…
Looking up one can see an old Captain’s house just below the old Fort, towering
over the port below… one can only wonder how many anxious nights
this Captain’s family spent waiting for a glimpse of his returning ship.
Over to the left the empty “sunset-side” of the village awaits the start
of the season… and the thousands of nightly visitors that will climb on
every available rooftop and wall to catch a glimpse of the fabled Oia sunset.
Ammoudi itself is deserted in winter…apart from some local fishermen and
those very few that live in the handful of houses in this tiny pirate’s cove.
For those that have enjoyed many a balmy evening at Katina’s taverna…
it is a different image in the middle of winter
as you can see in the background.
On the other side it looks just as deserted… even the fishing boats have been
taken away to shelter from the angry westerlies that can hit Ammoudi
so hard during the winter months.
It seems Dimitri will be doing what he always does come March…repainting his
taverna and getting ready for the thousands that will enjoy unforgettable
evenings by the water during the long summer season.
Those of you that remember my post on Ammoudi from last winter will remember the flooding that occurs when the westerly winds hit Ammoudi. This year
it seems that the boys at Katina’s have decided to take more drastic steps
to avoid water damage. That wooden panel is sealed with silicone against the walls and along the ground and is high enough to keep out the tons of sea water
that washes onto the restaurant terraces every winter.
The well known path leading to the ever popular tiny rock beach…as well as
the picturesque volcanic island of St Nicholas appear normal at first glance…
and the local villager is enjoying a magnificent morning’s fishing on the
huge lava rocks along the path…
but then suddenly it all looks very different… the path is now covered by
tons of black lava rocks… the result of a collapse of the cliffs above, effectively blocking all access to the small beach and the island.
I climbed up to the side of the cliff to give you an idea of the damage…you can clearly see the path on the right of the image, whilst it is buried under
tons of lava rock just below where I am standing…
Keep in mind this happened before the end of the season, just after the first rains,
but luckily at night. The black lava rock is much heavier than granite…
so this would not have been a good place to be standing when these pebbles fell…
And just in case you think the rocks you see look small….
these are the same rocks at ground level…it would not have been a good look to be standing under these as they fell…
So where there was once the narrow path to the tiny rock beach and
the closest access point to St Nick’s island…. there is now a huge pile
of very heavy volcanic lava rock… not likely to be shifted in a hurry.
It;s quite an amazing thing to see just how disruptive something like this rock slide can be. Keeping in mind that this is only about as tiny as rock slides on this island get…one can only imagine what the landscape here looked like soon after one of the many earthquakes…. let alone THAT day…. the day that all this was created in the first place. The longer you live here…the more you realise that the three days the eruption occurred those thousands of years ago …. would not have been a pleasant weekend to be on Santorini.