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Sunday, 01 November 2020

Hymn to Fourni, Greece: Goats, Honey, Octopus, Calm… and much more - Page 3

Written by Donal Conlon
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There are many more goats than people on Fourni - two to three thousand looked after by five or six shepherds. I think I saw a shepherd one morning, striding over a hill; he carried a large wooden crook - not gilded in gold so I assume his mission was goats. Goats are income; outside breeding seasons their meat is eaten and much cheese is made from their milk. They were the best looking goats I had seen anywhere though their smell was no better than others. They seemed happy having all those rocks to clamber over and around and take shade under.


Goats 2

There are many women in black; I watch three pin a death notice to a village pole. Most women in black are old, but not all: it is mourning for missing men - husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles… when for a husband, it is worn for life. Fortunately, most island people live long lives. A walk in the cemetery, with its spectacular view of the village, shows that a great majority live to between eighty and a hundred.

Thymaina Village 

I sit on my small balcony, overlooking the port, on my last night. I have had one of my favorite dinners: a plate of grilled octopus, a tomato- olive salad, and a jug of white wine from neighboring Samos. I am reprimanded by the owner for squeezing too much lemon onto the octopus; it harms the flavor he says. I will watch the big ferry which arrives about midnight, twice a week, from Piraeus. It is a pleasure seeing skilled seamen turn around a huge ferry in its own length in a small bay, unload, load and be away in fifteen minutes in a flurry of lights and churning water. I will take the same boat tomorrow on its way back to Piraeus.


The village, indeed, the island, slumbers afternoons for several hours - as all of Greece did at one time - so people socialize late. The children who play late each evening have been called home. I listen to a group of young men and women shouting violently over a board game downstairs in the coffee shop; it’s midnight. If I didn’t know better, I might think a fight was about to explode, but then there is loud laughter and some mockery; it’s just the noisy Greek way.


The owner of the coffee shop and of my small studio has said he wants to bring me breakfast in bed for my last morning. I feel somehow sad at moments like these.


©Donal Conlon

Winding Road

Donal has a book about Africa for sale on Amazon. Its a deal at 3.50 pounds or $4.22: You can get it here


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Last modified on Sunday, 01 November 2020

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