November 10th, morning, I am in the room that Evgenia Fourtina has provided me for free.
I open the door to check if the cafeteria is open. My room is located at a high point and from where I am I can direcly see the cafeteria but I do not see or hear anyone living in the village. Absolute silence. Suddenly I hear voices and I come out to check where do they come from. I see a young man with his mother. He is a teacher appointed for the first time in the village, looking to rent a place to stay. His mother asks me if I rent any room but I tell her that I am the last person that they should ask. I tell her that I am a visitor and that I came from Athens in order to experience Saint Minas festival. She looks at me in a strange way and leaves without saying anything.
I am getting prepared and leave for Filippaki's cafeteria that is located at the center of the village, near the central church, which I am sure that it is going to be open. I find Filippos alone, playing his lute. Very few people pass outside, stop to say hello and continue their walk. Drinking coffee and working on my laptop for the whole morning. Minas makes a stop in the cafeteria to eat something. I decide to take something to eat too until the time comes for the evening mass at Saint Mina's chapel. Minas, after the lunch, he sleeps on the table.
I go to my room to take my sleeping bag that I have forgotten to take with me, after all, I need it for the night because I am going to spend the whole night at the chapel. I am not sure where exactly I will sleep, but I am sure that I will find a spot somewhere. I come across some locals that drive to the chapel and I go with them. In a few minutes, we get out of the main road, enter a dirt road and drive downhill. A wild route, but beautiful at the same time.
At the end of the canyon, on the edge of a cliff by the sea, I see the chapel of Saint Minas. Only a few people are here now. I light a candle and then take a small walk to check the surroundings. I see a place full of tables by the chapel. I suppose this will be the place where the feast will take place. As time passes, more and more people are coming. Most of the women come dressed in their traditional outfits. The old women wear these clothes the whole year round. Youngest women wear these traditional outfits only during festivals.
When the evening mass ends, everybody goes to the place of the feast. There is a lot of food that has been cooked already in a nearby room and a lot of wine. All these are offers by someone that has made an oblation to Saint Minas. If nobody offers these, then the expenses will be covered by the people of the church, There is no way people come and nobody offers them food and wine, that is what I am told. A lot of people have come now and the room cannot host everybody. I decide to stay outside even if I am told that I should be inside. Fortunately, the weather is perfect and there are tables outside with food and drinks. I prefer giving my place inside for someone local, I believe this is the right thing to do.
After eating a delicious food, singing starts. There are local musicians playing. Oldest men sing first, the priest also. In a while, dancing starts. This will last until morning.
The people that had arrived by car, leave for the village. They will come again in the morning to attend the morning mass. Musicians and some people with no cars stay. In the place that the feast took place, there are two attics, suitable spot for my sleep. I take my sleeping bag and lie on the floor. There is still plenty of room left for others to sleep there. A woman and her daughter come and tell me that this is the place that women sleep and that I should go to the opposite attic. I go there and see that it is full of men, I spot an empty space which is in the middle of them and I have to crawl in order to reach my spot, basically, I crawl over 4 people that make fun of me. More men come and now we really have to sleep very close to let some space for the newcomers. The guy sleeping next to me practically snores in my face but if I turn the other way I have another guy's feet right in front of my face. He slept like this in order to gain some space. I look at the attic of the other side and I notice that there are only two women sleeping there. I cannot sleep. So I crawl slowly back to the ground floor, under the women's' attic (because they are not snoring), I empty a table and lie on it to sleep.
After not so much time, the church bells start ringing. Nobody wakes up. I think that I should continue my sleep but some women come and tell me that I have to wake up because they have to prepare the tables for the feast. I haven't slept at all. I put my head below running water to wake me up. Somebody tells me that I can make coffee in the nearby kitchen.
People of all ages come to attend the morning mass. It is a lovely day today. Musicians have woken up and they take their positions. Right after the mass, the dancing started in the church's yard. Men and women dance together. This will carry on until the afternoon. It is already dark when I return to the village.
Next day I go to meet the Fourtina family. I had promised them that I would spend one whole day at their farm. I jump on their truck's trailer and off we go! After a while and with no other cars in the road, Evgenia starts honking the horn. At first, I am thinking that she just wants to say hello to somebody. She keeps honking for some time and after some time she explains to me that this is her sign for her goats that are around. She says that when the goats hear the horn, they go back to the pen. To my surprise, this is what really happens! At our arrival, all goats are there. Georgia's mother gets in to feed the animals, wearing a protective veil to protect her from some certain species of fly that can cause infection to the eyes. This information scared me a little so I decide to have my camera always before my eyes for protection!
After feeding the herd, she checks her olive trees and in the afternoon we take lunch together. Few things on the table but still so delicious and healthy. The night fell. A couple of Belgian hikers that pass by stop to say hello and we invite them to our company.