Tuesday, 1 October 2013

head space

on the descent to Kalamata, a little bit of uphill
After our high mountain pass crossing from Sparti, we descend into the town of Kalamata, the town of oversized olives.  I'm disappointed to find there is no giant olive marking the entrance to the town.  On the way down to the town we had passed a long stretch of graffiti art covering a concrete retaining wall which decries the environmental destruction taking place.  Needless to say there is lots of litter lying on the roadside.  Apparently every vehicle in Greece is fitted with a rubbish bin, by law.  It's called the window.  Kalamata offers up its Saturday market to us to peruse and check out all the fresh local produce.  People are buying kilos of fruit and vegetables at very good prices.  Down at the seafront there are lots of locals on bicycles using the bike lane.  We stop for lunch and then continue to Linda and Peter's house which is in the countryside south of town.  
Gil lives! in Kalamata
Our couch-surfing hosts have suggested we head to their local village and ask in the cafe for someone to phone them.  Otherwise we might never find their house.  We skirt the coast and then head inland up a cruel and impossibly  steep road.  We have barely recovered our breath when a man in an old Merc accosts us.  Are we Linda and Peter's couchsurfers? Yes, we are.  Then you're going the wrong way.  Are we? The man is Herbert, an Austrian emigre and neighbour who phones Linda and redirects us up another cruel and impossibly steep road where Linda meets us.  We suffer some sort of momentary culture shock as Linda chats to us in her familiar and friendly northern accent.  Where are we again?

At the house ("a work in progress") we meet Peter, who seems to be arc-welding something in his workshop.  Their house, which they've been building for about the last 9 years, is a fantastical and unique construction, set in a vale of olive trees with an enviable view of the sea below and the western Peloponnese on the horizon.  It's hard to describe the house and immediately we resort to what are undoubtedly cliched comparisons with Gaudi and Hundertwasser.  When asked later about the design, Peter smiles and   says "We kind of ad-libbed".  

We are warmly welcomed into their home with a nice cup of Yorkshire tea.  It's better than the stuff from China, I can tell you.  They are great hosts - we are camping on a terrace in the garden and a young couple from the States, Kat and Chris, are also staying in the nearby wooden house that Peter and Linda built as an interim home while they worked on the Bigger Project. We sit down to a fabulous chicken curry and good conversation.  It turns out Kat has been here scouting for crew and actors for a film she is writing, directing and producing herself.  Peter has just finished making a film about the vendettas of the Mani.  We are surrounded by artists and art - the house is tiled with mosaics and Peter's sculptures abound.  Linda sings in a local choral group and one morning Peter is heard working his way around Lullaby of Birdland on the flute.  His conversation is peppered with aphorisms and some very dry wit all delivered in warm northern vowels.  We suddenly discover something we have been missing on our travels without ever realising it: English humour.

Kat and Chris have less time than us and depart a couple of days later and Linda encourages us to move into the wooden house.  They have been in their proper home now for over a year and are still busy each morning finishing the tiling on the roof.  The house looks almost completed and it's hard to imagine the amount of sheer hard work that has gone into the construction.  Interestingly, they have no electricity connected, but rely on some solar panels and gas.  Linda teaches English part-time and Peter, who retired early, is free to work on other projects when not finishing off the house.  He has been bending and welding steel for a 3 metre-tall sculpture.  What we see are two legs.  "They're like the Wrong Trousers" he jokes.

the view from Linda and Peter's

We find in their home a place of calm and good vibes, man.  How to describe it?  Linda thinks that living here gives her "head space".  That's it.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like something from "Alice in Wonderland" - popped out of the rabbit hole.