Monday, February 7, 2011

The Odyssey: Part 3 Axladokambos

The journey up the mountain side was beautiful the day we drove YaYa home from the hospital. The road was recently widened and paved so The Greek made good time from Naplio to Axladokambos. As we wound around each bend I noticed wild bronze fennel growing everywhere. Greece is one of the most botanically diverse countries in Europe and springtime is the best time to see all the different plants in bloom. There were wild white irises and red poppies everywhere you looked on the mountain. Thousands of little white daisies were scattered by the roadside. Behind us we could see the Mediterranean shimmering.

YaYa pointed to the valley next to the mountain we were on and said, "You see all that land? That belongs to me and to all of our family." Of course The Greek translated that to me. I didn't know we owned a whole valley. Their family had been in the olive business for generations. They use to live and work on the farm in the valley part of the year and the other part they lived in their other house in the village. YaYa's nephew ran the farm now and she lived in the village year around.

When we reached Axladokambos, it was exactly how I'd imaged it. We took YaYa to her caretaker's house and we had lunch with them. We had some souvlaki we picked up on the way, feta cheese, olives, and horta. Horta is wild greens picked high up on the mountain, boiled, and then dressed with olive oil, lemon, and salt. It is really good if the greens are young and sweet and not bitter. Ours were really good.

We sat around and YaYa told us stories and sang for us while The Greek video taped her for the folks back home. We walked around the village and went to The Greek's dad's house that he grew up in. It was abandoned and falling apart. We couldn't walk inside, but we looked through the windows. The Greek's dad obviously wasn't as well off as The Greek's mom. I think that's why he had to spend so long in America earning money to get married.

This is what the roads look like in the village.

It is pretty scary to drive in the village because the roads are very narrow and very steep. YaYa could still walk up and down these steep roads (not that day though). We could see shepherd's leading their flocks around and most houses had livestock in the yard. I noticed everywhere in Greece the yards always had a small garden, citrus trees, and chickens, goats, or sheep. They are very self-sufficient.

I must say I was very charmed by all the people we met in the village. I think most of them were cousins of some sort. We went out that night with The Greek's mom's cousin who ran the family farm. He took us to a restaurant (the only one on the mountain) above the village. It was a very long dinner. So many courses, too much smoke, and lots of stories. He spoke English very well.

He gave us a treasure that night. A book that was recently published with the names and birth and death records of all the men in the village for the last 100 years. The information was gathered from military records, so there was nothing about any of the women in it. It was a huge genealogical find for us. Our family history charts only went back two generations. The Greek was very very happy.

1 comment:

Allison in Boston said...

Ria, I loved reading your posts about your trip to Greece. My grandfather came from the same village as your "Greek" and I visited there briefly in July 2013. You mentioned that you received a book that had lots of info about the men of Axladokambos. Could you please share who published it? I would love to get a copy (or at least the pages related to my family).
Lovely work on your blog!
Allison in Boston
(my Greek family name is Dussias, also spelled Doussias or even Ntousias, plus some other variations)