Up in the mountains of Ikaria

Ikaria Island has a harsh rocky shoreline that keeps away cruise ships and larger crowds. As a result, this ‘island of longevity’ (as termed by National Geographic) has a unique local culture that’s tranquil, quiet and blessed with fertile mountains.

The Pelago first docked at Ikaria’s small fishing port of Galiskari, to pick up a box of sweet products from a recently opened Ikarian Honey shop in Armenistis run by Evangalos. From there, the winds used her gentle hands to push the Pelago eastward along the coastline, sailing at a leisurely 3 knots. (This area of the Aegean is known for stronger and more capricious winds.) At the port of Karavostamo, we met Stamatoula, who lives with her boyfriend in an old stone house way up in the mountains. She is known for her special carob syrup that’s in demand by local shops.

After loading a box of her syrup onto the Pelago, we joined her for a coffee and dinner at her house in the mountains.

Stamatoula explained to us how she renovated the stone house of her grandfather. She still awaits electricity in one part. Her cozy grounds are a hidden slice of paradise. The terraces are scented with flowers, herbs, and also a vegetable garden. Stamatoula keeps beehives on another terrace in the back of the house.

We were treated to an unforgettable dinner, tasting her cured olives, ladling out a fresh fish soup, drinking local wine and the tsiporo of her uncle. The hours passed in the way they should, with warm hearted conversation. Then we all stood together to witness an incredible sunset – followed by shared efforts to identify some planets, shooting stars and the constellations of the heavens.

I could say that we concluded the night then; however, Stamatoula was wide awake and invited us to join her at a festival in a nearby village celebrating a baptism.

-Charlene Caprio

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