A Word A Week Photo Challenge – Transport

As this blog (and its owner) continues to take a much needed hiatus from all things Nepali, I thought I’d focus on Greek transportation for this week’s challenge.  In particular the local ferry, which is a much needed lifeline between our island and the mainland, carrying produce, meat and dairy in refrigerated trucks as well as building supplies, gasoline– – you name it — to the local economy.

And so 6-8 times a day, its a game of “everybody off, everybody on” as the ferry disembarks and reloads on each side.  Full trucks come onto the island, and empty trucks leave. Then there’s the motorbikes, three-wheelers, miscellaneous freight and pedestrians that travel back and forth too. I tried to capture a little of the chaos on the dock:


The motorcycles are made to wait for the trucks to unload….


….but once they’re on, its a free-for-all as the bikes and pedestrians head up the ramp.


…then on comes the next load.


Of course, it would be so much more civilized if they didn’t let drivers park on the dock. I couldn’t take this picture until they had let me embark. By then all the trucks had left, so it doesn’t look so chaotic. A few minutes before it was a madhouse of badly maneuvering trucks, parked cars, and jostling motorbikes.


And then for the umpteenth time, the ramp goes up and the ferry heads back across. Suddenly everything is calm and picturesque again. (Almost) like all the chaos never happened.


Sometimes it feels like this guy has the best job in the world.

Cactus Flower


When we saw two rapidly growing asparagus-like sprouts protruding from one of our faithful old cacti, we knew it was going to flower. During the last week, every morning the shoots grew at least one inch longer. We’d never seen this plant bloom before so it was kind of exciting to watch. Last night, at midnight, Latham called us into the garden to show us that the flowers were in bloom. I didn’t know flowers bloomed at night!  By morning, one of the flowers was already past its best. This afternoon they are fading fast. Rare, briefly-lived flowers, caught on film. Aren’t they pretty?!





The Church of the Panagia Daskalakis


Panayia Daskalakis is one of our favourite hiking destinations. We’ve been hiking up to it from our house for the best part of the last twenty years. We have carried Latham up in a baby backpack, explored as a group of moms and toddlers and, once school started, we’ve continued to visited each summer when we return. Every year we take family or friends up to enjoy a morning breakfast picnic of still warm croissants or tiropetas from the bakery.  We  sit at the church a while to take in the view before we continue on our hike. This year it was just the three of us.


The property belonged to the Greek industrialist, Dimitris Daskalakis. The church is kept in excellent condition and painted every year before an annual festival.


Its built in seating is the best picnic spot, with beautiful views across the harbour.


Daskalakis built a large waterfront textile factory on the island in the 1920s, which created jobs for the Spetsiots until it closed after the second world war.  Daskalakis died in 1939 just as war broke out again and is buried here at the church.


Dimitrios Daskalakis, Industrialist 29-9-1939


Unlike the church, his adjacent home is in ruins. When we first visited about 18 years ago, the roof was still in place, covering the kitchen, and kitchen tiles were still on the floor.  The living/sleeping area had half a roof.  Now both are long collapsed.



This year, after a very long time, I was finally able to step inside the ruin. For a long time the floor has been too precarious to walk on,  but now the beams and tiles have rotten down and the ground is solid again.  A pine tree inside stands as testament to how much time has passed without a roof.


There’s still a communal bench strung between two trees, but it has gotten very rickety with time.  The kids would always climb on top of it and have their photos taken.  I think its much too frail now to take their weight.



A little reminder of earlier visits


This was the kitchen.


….and an upstairs closet

I’m sure the church will continue to be preserved and the house will continue to crumble. We plan on continuing to keep track of its progress ;o)

The Smell of Home

spetses harbour

Daily Prompt: From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours?

Tomorrow I board a plane for a much anticipated break to our Greek home.   I know our life there so well.  There are so many memories. I can imagine myself sitting on the wall with my legs dangling down to the street, looking out to sea.  I can hear Greek voices and the occasional putting of a boat engine.  I can hear the straining of motorcycle as struggles up the hill to the street below. It all seems a million miles away from Kathmandu, away from the incessant honking and the frustrating chaos of it all.   It’s so hard to imagine such a radically different place from the one that consumes me now. Like traveling from a cold, harsh climate to the summer sun, its a leap of faith to know that it really is there waiting for us.

Somewhere among all the memories is the island smell, but I can’t place it exactly.  Its a heady mixture of mountain herbs, jasmine blossom,  pine trees, Greek cooking sifting over the wall from the neighbor’s kitchen, and island mystery ingredients.  I can’t place it,  but I know the smell.   Its the smell of home.

Visiting Nepali Schools


A public school just outside of Kathmandu

One of the best things I do here – and sometimes one of the hardest – is visiting schools. I get to see all kinds of age groups, public and private schools, as well as college level students. Education here is not available to everyone, and public education is hugely underfunded and mostly leaves a lot to be desired.  There are some amazing dedicated public school teachers who operate the best they can with very little but often this isn’t the case.  Sometimes it can be very hard to see how little they have. Many schools have virtually nothing in the way of facilities and school libraries are a rarity, which is why we have a mobile library that travels to road-accessible areas all over Nepal to bring books, educational presentations and internet technology to kids that have sometimes never seen them before.


Embassy book bus on a school visit

The upside to the visits is always meeting the kids and seeing/hearing their questions, enthusiasm and curiosity.  They love the books – which many of them don’t get to see very often – and it’s very rewarding to see them absorbed into the world of reading.  I can’t help taking pictures.  Here are a few of my favourites:









A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Traditional




I’m spoiled for choice with this week’s word “Traditional“, as tradition reigns in Nepal. But I think I’ll go for something Filipino to ring the changes… These adorable kids from a local school were doing the traditional hat and stick dance at our Embassy welcome party, and they lit up the room!

For the original story see Community Welcome Party.