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Lardos - Watching the World Go By by Liz Canham

#32 - 17 - 5 - Lardos - Watching the World Go By by Liz Canham
[ 2008-03-20 11:01:59 ] - lizc

Staying in Pefkos on the island of Rhodes, mainly without transport, offered the opportunity for a bit of walking. One windy day which didn't seem too hot, we set off for Lardos, a village some 5 or 6 kilometres away.
It's funny what you see on foot that you don't see from a car - tiny wild flowers growing on the verge, lizards sunning themselves and scuttling away at the sound of footsteps, grasshoppers almost completely disguised in the grass. The sounds too - cicadas rubbing their wings together madly to make that high pitched buzzing noise, birds twittering, sea gulls wheeling and calling overhead.

Being on foot gave us the chance to inspect the local hotels and houses more closely too. We hadn't realised that the small hotel along the road had a quite large, oddly shaped swimming pool with a sort of dog-leg in the middle and an ornamental windmill with a thatched roof. We didn't know that the ubiquitous plant, Morning Glory, could be found in shocking pink as well as the normal dark purple and we didn't now that the old lady often seen strolling round the village or gossiping with friends kept what seemed like hundreds of chickens of all colours, shapes and sizes.

The coastline here is pretty rugged, mostly rock with the odd bit of sandy beach with occasional hotels and apartment blocks. Once you turn inland towards Lardos, the eye no longer drawn towards the sea, the mountains attract the attention and the land is cultivated with vines and ancient olive trees. The road is dusty and quite deserted the prospect of a cold drink becomes very attractive as throats becomes drier and feet more tired.

Soon, though we arrive in Lardos village "square", a small open area with a few cafs conveniently placed and a drinking fountain complete with font and topped with a crucifix. The Yamas Bar attracts us, with it's white-painted wrought-iron chairs and glass-topped tables set on the pavement outside an area that looks more like a greenhouse or conservatory than a bar, so many plants are in visible inside.

Yamas Bar proves to be an ideal spot for watching the world going by. The local priest comes in for a coffee and seems to be conducting his pastoral duties with the aid of a mobile phone. His very relaxed attitude to dealing with his flock is refreshing as every so often someone stops by his table for a word.

An ice cold beer soon has us revived so we stroll off round the village. There are quite new elegant white houses with curved balconies and older town houses with heavy carved wooden doors and shutters and everywhere blue-flowered Jacaranda and palm trees.
The streets become narrower and rise to the level of the rooftops before a rather new church comes into view. The church is painted cream and has red roof tiles which curve into an arch at all four elevations, each arch sheltering a circular detail painted blue enclosing a cross. There is a five-storey bell-tower with carved arches on each side and just visible inside, a wooden step-ladder leading to the top. The highlight though, is a very rustic and roughly built dwelling with two bright pink chimneys - very incongruous amongst all the muted colours.

Stroll over, we were drawn back to Yamas bar for a cocktail and more people-watching. The priest was still there and had moved on from coffee to ouzo, his audience larger than before but his mobile just as active. Dusk began to fall and youngsters swept by on their scooters, often stopping to pick up a pretty young girl or just to be seen out and about.

In the cool of the evening, the older ladies came out for a stroll and the men began to gather in the cafs for a game of cards or backgammon. It was so tranquil that we stayed for dinner and too tired to walk, hailed a taxi for home.

From Travellers' Tales
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