Friday, September 01, 2006

Mountain roads

This is a big mountain road in Crete. By big, I mean, modern: wide, paved, and sort of direct. A National Road System is under construction, and some of those roads are more heavily travelled. You'll note that there isn't a lot of traffic, which is good, because with the number of switchbacks and cliffs one traverses, passing isn't such an easy proposition. The sheep, for instance, took their time. Here's a hint that we learned. If the road gets very very narrow between houses, cobblestoned, or becomes gravel or dirt, you might not be on the main road. Then again, you might. Roadsigns mostly had English on them, except for when they didn't. (scientist husband can sound out Greek letters, that is, when the car is completely parked in front of a sign.)

Some of the hillsides were green with olive and fruit trees, and many were brown. The mountains did not grow trees at the tops, they were taller than one would think.
In my search for homemade and interesting things, I should mention local cheeses, which were very good. Some of you know that I am constantly feeling cheese deprived in our town, because it's very hard to get handmade, affordable, good cheese here. (you know, the artisanal kind that gets wrapped in butcher paper after you ask for it from the cheese counter. Yup. No cheese counter here.) Aside from cheese served straight, there are also cheese "Pies," wrapped in a puff pastry kind of dough and drizzled with local honey. Mmmm. Good. Latest gossip is that a local dairy is coming to our farmer's market, with cream on top milk, and I'm considering learning how to make some cheese myself. Cretan cheese only encouraged me...
Our journey was to Anogia which has a rich history. Most recently, during WWII, it was a center of Cretan resistance to th e Nazi occupation. The men of the town were rounded up and killed. The women then supported themselves via needlework, weaving, and other textile traditions. These days, it is mostly mass-produced commercial stuff, but I did see one warped loom:
Anogia is also the center of the shepherd industry in Crete, we ate lamb for lunch and we saw these fleeces by the side of the road. I got close. They were felted, dirty, and looked mainly like hair. The wool didn't match up with the sheep I'd seen. Later, I learned from another weaver that most of the wool in Crete isn't used now. These days it's thrown away after shearing. Sound familiar, American shepherds? I didn't examine these fleeces carefully--it would be a great way to contract anthrax, I'd guess. However, I did see some lovely handspun yarns later in our trip.
I may not post for a day or two, we're off to an engagement party for my brother-in-law, Ben and his bride to be, Ilana! Hurray! Next post will be: Festos. You can do your homework for that post right here. (If you read it all, you'll definitely know more than we do!)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

joanne - i am trying to contact roka carpets in hania crete
u said u have their details can u possibly forward them to

September 10, 2008 at 9:05 PM  

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