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Friday, August 14, 2009


View of LALA
On Saturday June 20, we drove down to the south of Euboeia from Stira to visit the little mountain village where I spent several years. It turned out to be the strangest experience. Instead of the village people coming out to greet me like they always have in the past, the village seemed deserted. A lot of the older houses were shuttered up and looked as if the occupants had gone for good (probably died). And those that were occupied were also shuttered up with not one person around. It's a very tiny village, no more than 100 houses built up the side of the scoop of a mountain. Mainly shepherds live there and perhaps they were up on the mountain with their flocks. Or perhaps, like my dear friend Mitso who died a few years ago, they are gone too. I had hoped to at least see my friend Erasmia. Her flower pots were all in bloom but there wasn't a soul stirring around her property.

I wanted to look at my old spitaki but the gate was locked and my Greek/Canadian friends who had let me use the little house, were no longer at their own place. It looked as though it was falling into ruin.

Sadly, we walked through the quiet, deserted village and went to another of the once-magical places where I loved to rest in the afternoons by the waterfall, under the big plane trees.


The mill house still looked the same and I wonder if someone is living in it. My little spitaki was very similar but had two doors, one for each of the two rooms. They are very old houses, built with stone and have thick walls. My spitaki was originally built in 1457 and probably so was this mill house.

I stopped to take a drink of the fresh cold mountain water and to wash under the waterfall. It was always a favorite place to go on a hot day like this was. I used to sit there for hours writing in my journal.

The Dinaz and I walked along the road toward the cemetary because I wanted to put flowers on Mitso's grave. When we eventually got there, we discovered that the little graveyard was very unkempt, some of the graves smashed and I couldn't find Mitso's grave. Eventually I saw one that said "Sophie Kousoukos 2006" and I recognized it as his last name, perhaps his sister's grave. Then we remembered that the custom is to remove the bones of the dead after two years and put them in an ossiary. So Mitso had been removed from his grave and his sister, who had died after him, was now resting there. I left the pomegrante flower anyway. I'm sure his spirit was lurking around the village that day and he's know I had come.

MITSO'S HOUSE, the white one at the top
my spitaki was lower down behind the trees
And so we left Lala. I don't know if I'll ever return there. The magic was gone after Mitso died, and now it seems almost as if the village itself has died. I wonder where everyone was?
It was the oddest and eeriest experience and left me feeling very sad. But it was a closure, I guess. My heart has always been there, up on that mountainside. I almost made a decision to marry Mitso before he so suddenly passed away of lung cancer. And now I wonder if there is any reason why I should ever return there again. My Vancouver Greek friends are elderly, and Antonio has Parkinsons, her husband Jimmy has a heart condition. It didn't look as though any family member was taking care of the property up there. No doubt the little spitaki which I loved so much is falling to ruin like the rest of their property. It's a tragedy, really.

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