Relaxing in Stoupa

Angie has already summarized most of the high points of our fantastic and restful time in Stoupa spent with my sister Pamela and her husband Dermot.
From my point of view it’s been close to perfect. Great food, lots of time relaxing with books, good conversation, a look at some of Dermot’s latest work (he’s a ceramicist), and outdoors time.
We’ve had a great time seeing a bit of the area while minimizing time on winding mountain roads. We’ve checked out the inside of the Byzantine St. Mary’s Church in Milea after “hiking” the hilly roads beneath the middle and upper villages, and taken some lovely walks along the coast to Trahila and Agios Nicolas and in the village. We’ve also had a couple of lovely light meals at some of the establishments favored by Pam and Dermot, including Steki, on the beachfront; and a wonderful round of mezes at the taverna on the beach at Kalogria (the next beach to the north from Stoupa). To Palio Bostani (The Old Vegetable Plot) is owned by Pam’s old friend Dmitris. He insisted that we must have fries with the tadziki and he also stood us a round of Tsiporo, my new favorite drink. And, when Pam told him that we had gotten first press olive oil from her pal up the hill (see Angie’s post from October 21), he had to of course tell her he had some also, and bring some to us. It was delicious. Along with the tadziki, we ate big beans, beetroot salad, and I can’t recall what else. Probably more than we needed.
We’ve also been able to go to the beach and get in the water most days, and made a point of it on Wednesday, since the weather forecast suggested it might be our last chance. In fact, I turned around to look at the mountains while we were relaxing on the sand, only to see some pretty ominous black clouds heading our way. After informing the rest of the group, each supine on the lounge chairs, we decided to beat a retreat to the house.
The rain (which proved to be pretty torrential and last most of the night) didn’t really start until we were in bed for the evening, but apparently the neighborhood cats had seen the forecast.
One of Pam’s neighbors has a terrible habit of feeding the local cats and kittens, even though she is not a year-round resident. Now she has departed for the season, and at least a half dozen cats, mainly kitten-sized, have started coming to the house. The house cat, Pumpkin, who himself had appeared at Pam and Dermot’s doorstep seven years ago–just prior to my first visit to Stoupa–didn’t seem to be terribly bothered by them, even when one stepped up to share his fish bones the other evening. On Wednesday night, as the rain began, they clearly were hoping for food and shelter, and were offered neither. By the time we were getting ready for bed, the six or seven we’d identified so far (we actually think there are at least nine) had started seeking, unsuccessfully, different avenues into the house. On the roof, on the canvas awning, and by the morning, even up on the deck and trying to get down through the terraced roof and grapevine that was growing on it. All to no avail. Three of the cats spent the night curled up on the doormat outside the kitchen door.

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Yet they still gained no love from any of us. It’s not that they aren’t all adorable, but Stoupa (and I’d probably say Greece) has a huge population of feral and stray cats, and it’s a cruelty to encourage them in any way, especially since the concept of trapping and fixing them all is almost as alien apparently as the concept of taking a pet to the vet. They came back again around dinner time on Thursday night, and again, some of them spent the night on the stoop despite efforts to shoo them off with sticks and buckets of water. The little black one that we thought was so cute at first has shown itself to be the most persistent and loudest, mewling at us when it sees activity in the screened porch and even clawing its way up the window a little. And it was the one that got up on the roof on Thursday morning and also went up a couple of trees in search of birds. We’ve decided he/she is kind of evil.
Thursday was on the face of it the most do-nothing day we’ve had on the trip I think, partly because the weather forecast was not great. Two short walks, the first shortened by fear of a cloudburst, the second when it seemed it had cleared up for a while, so we wanted to get some exercise while we could. The beaches got pretty washed up overnight, which you may be able to see by how far the beach furniture was buried on Thursday morning.

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We spent most of the day reading our books. And eating of course. I made my beloved apple oven pancake for breakfast and it went down well. For lunch we had a lovely simple meal of salad, cheese, hard boiled eggs, homemade oatcakes, and fresh bread. And washed down with Coca Cola because we need the bottles for Olive Oil transportation. Afternoon snack: homemade brownies, Pam’s secret recipe. Dinner, Dermot roasted a chicken and made some spectacular fries that we ate as our meze. There would be a picture here of the enormous stack of fries but we were too busy eating to get a camera.
The forecast indicated that daytime Friday would be pretty wet, and it was very stormy overnight before that. We had resigned ourselves, poor us, to a day in the sunroom with books and disconnected iPads. It’s not possible to keep the router on when it’s stormy here because the electrical system is not strong, so phones and routers tend to get fried by lightning strikes and power surges. The power went out at least once during the morning but we were enjoying our books (and me this blog entry) so it really didn’t affect us. This would be our last day with Pam and Dermot so we will enjoy it any way we can. It’s been a wonderful visit and it’s a shame it’s almost over. I’ll post more pics later but the good ones are on Pam’s phone and camera and with unstable reception here, it’s possibly going to be a few days.

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