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Reisverslag Living the Greek shepherds life
30 mei 2018
Living the Greek shepherds life
Aaaaanyway. It´s been a while. Time for an update.
Im still in Greece and will be here for a few more weeks.
After my visit to Mount Athos I set sail for the island of Samothraki! Its located in the northeast of Greece. A beautiful trainride from Thessaloniki, passing incredible views of the northern mountainous region, took me to Alexandroupoli. There I took the ferry to Kameriotissa (the port of Samothraki) On the ferry I met a woman who was happy to drive me to the meeting point of my Work Away. I was yet to start a new volunteering adventure. I joined the Green Flow Project for 6 weeks. What. A. Time.
Boah.. In several ways its has been mindexpanding. Imagine a place where there is no electricity, no internet, no hot water, loads of beautiful souls, coziness, delicious food, amazing nature, inspiration, Do It Yourself. Roughly founded by 3 men with a mission!
In short; Samothraki is facing several challeges. The past few decades the island suffers from overgrazing by the local sheep and goat herds, the inhabitants tend to overcut the wood and on top of that in September last year an earthquake hit the island, leaving it severely damaged on numerous places. Challenge 1 and 2 result in very visible and tangible erosion. For the first time in my life Geography lessons of high school really applied concerning this topic. It was really confronting to see the deterioration first hand. Some mountains or hills were still green, most of them declining in greenness and others were just rocks and dust.. where it was green just a few years before. I signed up to assist in `rejuvenating the island` The land which we maintain is given to the project for at least 30 years. It belongs to a local shepherd family who believes in the commitment and dedication of the founders. Very inspiring. The project is a grassroot founded and supported by the community, both local and international. It means volunteers from all over the world come by to assist. Its still a newborn project with not a lot of stable funding for now. This means there is not a lot of money flowing for now. Its another reason to go full into recycling. Everything gets used to the fullest at Green Flow. We (re)use things we find in trashbags, next to the round, what is being donated.
For me it took some time to really land in this raw reality. I did need some time to arrive and I also feel I was finaly slowing down after weeks, months of being on the move, busy.
When I really listened to my heart I knew this was the place for me for now.
I truly had a blast there. Such amazing people.. Quite often we would help the local shepherd who owns our land. Pedro. I will NEVER forget Pedro. For me he was the first Greek person I learned to know better. He hardly spoke a word of English so it was just very basic words of Greek to instruct me. Kato, down Pano, up, fihi move away, Pame, lets go. It was a nice way to learn the language. I had too. In a way these commands were already familiar to me. We used them at our headquarters too, for the dogs. And Gladys, soooo many Gladys.. Branches.. Olive branches to be precise. Imagine a 63 year old Greek guy jumping(!) in and around olive trees and cutting branches either with a handsaw or a motor chain. We would then carry the branches towards the pick up. Carry means do NOT touch the ground.. Otherwhise the future owners don’t eat their meal. The customers are goats and apparently they are quite picky and posh when it comes to how their meal is served and prepared. Pedro has several gifts, of which I would like to mention at least one. We were piling the branches onto his pickup. At some point you have a nice pile of branches. You start to think the end is near for today. Pedro will soon stop his treejumping, come down, tie up the branches and we leave towards the sheep. The story doesn’t exactly follow this plot. He continues and continues, when he does come down it is to secure some ropes around the pickup, at least halving the pile of branches before he flies of again to his trees. Incredible man he is. Very encouraging to.. Bravo Jesses, Bravo, Ilkas, Bravo Theodorus (I love my Greek name ^_^, they have a nice way of saying it too the emphasis on the first o Theódoros) Bravo! It was at least an hour walk to Pedro´s land which I didn’t always look forward too, in the end it was always worth it. One of the other memorable events was moving his herd of sheep from the winter lands to the summer lands. Imagine a few volunteers, a pickup, a shepherd with his wand and at least 50 sheep with their lil lambs bèèèèèèhing and mèèèèèèing on the road.
I helped to kill a goat! Yes .. so before I go I detail this is your chance to skip this part. I will describe very explicit how it went down. So we caught a goat…. Well we its more our dogs. It was a goat from one of the neighbouring shepherds. According to a shepherds rule you are responsible for your goat not to trespass other peoples private land. It happened to us on numerous occasions (this was actually almost a daily task to, wake up. Check if there were any new goats on our lands, if so.. try and chase them off again ánd try to find the weak spot they entered through) So we got this goat. The dogs were welltrained to just corner him so we could take him from there. The faith of this particular goat was sealed. He would be slaughtered. In order for him to relax a bit, after the stressfull event of being chased by the dogs he got one day to calm down. I also learned it’s a difference wether the animal is stressed on the moment of killing or he isn’t. Stress causes a different state of blood filled with adrenaline, which we then also eat. On top of that the muscles are more tense and thus harder to chew. Then the event itself. Daud, who has done this many times before showed his magic. He sat still with the goat while me and Ilka where on standby. He was silent for a long time. I observed closely. It seemed nothing happened.. untill.. He slowly grabbed his knife, which he held behind his back. New moments of silence before he made his move. All this time the goat was just standing there. Doing nothing. Then .. the gesture. His horns were grabbed and before I knew it his throat was slid. Blood was gushing out and the head was indeed separated from the body. The body still made some nerve motions but those died(ha!) out quite fast. Now it was important to move fast. In order for the meat not to get dirty we had to act fast. We hung the goat upside down, hanging it by his feet. This allowed the remaining blood to drip out and to make it easier for us to continue. Next up was blowing up the goat. Yes, blowing up the goat. First a piece of bone near the ankle is removed. From there a straw is being slid into the inside of the goat. The throat is being pressed together so that all the air actually stays inside. This truly results into the goat being blown up.. like a balloon. Quite surreal I tell yah. The reason for doing this is the skin of the goat. We have to skin it and this procedure allows an easier separation from the skin and the meat. Sooo we begin pulling of the skin. This means getting dirty.. wait getting DIRTY sticking your hand into the legs and belly of the goat in order to loosen the skin. Its one bloody mess… like literally.. On top of that while doing so the blather sprung.. I got a nice pee shower. I felt gratitude for not being hit by the poo. Starting the value the little things in life yah know.. After some time of digging, scratching and a lot of pulling the skin let go of its previous owner. Nice goat skin.. You can make nice Djembe’s from it ☺ After doing a thorough intestines cleaning we could start the meatchopping.
This bigass Machete did the job. Nice pieces of meat. Best to be eaten after a day of rest.
We however already ate a big the same day. Nostimotáto (Delicious!!) I never had such soft nice juicy meat. Having went through the slaughting procedure myself really added to the experience and taste. It also helped that Daud is a great cook ;)
There is so much more to tell but since it has been a reading so far one last thing to close it off. 20 March.. somehow this date kept popping up to me. I felt something was going to happen. I was SURE this would be the date I would leave the island. It turns out it wasn’t. There was no boat. It proved to be important for a different reason. This journey was and is learning me so muchin many ways. Also the relationship I had and have with Elenor. We broke up in November but stayed in touch. Even though I within, mentally acknowledge our break up again and again there were different forces active. An energy that drew me closer to her, even while she was on the other side of the globe(!) One day after I had my flight to Greece, she went Peru. Amidst all the freedom to do whatever I wanted there was the soft and gentile soul whisper for something else. On the 20th of March I called Elenor. The topic was already surfacing some times but it was settled. She would come to Greece by the end of April. She literally flew half the world (I calculated her kilometers.. its over 20.000 in 6 days of travelling) and now we continue our journey together again. Now also physically. It’s exciting and new. We both learned and experienced a lot. For now our paths seem to be by each others side ☺
This is it for now. I hope the next chapter, which really gets you up to date wont be that long of a wait ;)
Foto's bij verslag (11)
5 juni 2018 05:53 | Door: Hanneke en Pieter
Goede reis samen, Dorus.
En welgefeliciteerd met je verjaardag!