It’s 4:30 in the morning and I wake up with a start. There’s a rooster crowing somewhere. Really loudly. I look out the balcony doors of our hotel and I see it’s pitch black outside. What? I think to myself. I thought roosters crow at daybreak. There’s no day breaking here. I guess no one told the rooster that.
I fall back onto the bed and sigh.
We are on Skopelos island in Greece, located on the Aegean Sea.
The island consists of a series of hills and valleys that is mostly undeveloped except for about three small towns.
The biggest is Skopelos town, which is where we are staying.
We are doing a workaway, which is a volunteer program, with Heather, who is a fascinating person. Although she’s from Britain, she’s lived in Skopelos for 30 years.
Heather found these footpaths that farmers and townspeople used to take to get from one part of the island to another before there were roads and she’s taken it upon herself to uncover these footpaths and create hiking trails across the island.
She used to do it alone, with the help of a few friends, and then she found out about workaway, and for the past 5 years she has been enlisting the help of people from around the world who volunteer to help her clear these trails in exchange for a place to stay and dinner.
The first day, Saturday, we helped put up a few trail signs to direct people where to turn along the paths, and then we worked on this very cool project.
There was a pathway off the side of the road that leads to a natural spring, where water comes out of a pipe and people used to get their drinking water. Apparently the water is still good to drink (though I wasn’t taking any chances with that), and people who know about it still came by to get water. When Heather pulled her car over to the side of the road and told us to get out and started to walk down a little ravine, I couldn’t figure out what she was doing. When we walked down a bit, I saw the pipe with the water flowing out of it. Then I realized what this was. But it was totally overgrown. And for anyone who didn’t know about it, there was no way they could ever find it.
We cleared the path of overgrown vines and branches, and I noticed that there were stairs that led down to the spring, not just a dirt path, which is what it looked like when we started. So I started scraping away the dirt and shoveling it away and uncovered the stone stairs. They were cement stairs, meaning they weren’t that old. But no one had maintained them and so it took a couple hours to dig away all the dirt, cut the roots of the vines and weeds that were growing on the path, and uncover the steps.
In the end, it looked great. Now people could walk down steps to the spring rather than slide down a dirt trail that was not even visible from the road.
But it was very hot and so when we were done I poured the cold spring water onto my face and my head. It felt GREAT!!!
Today Heather had invited us to go with her on a hike she was leading with some tourists. We decided to take a break and rest and give me a chance to catch up on some work and so today is our day of leisure.
We woke up late. Ate a nice breakfast at the hotel, took a swim in the pool, and are now sitting under some palm trees and relaxing. And it’s 1:00. We have the whole afternoon and evening to do nothing. Pure bliss!
So where are we staying? Heather has arranged with several of the hotels in the area to donate rooms to her for her volunteers.
We sleep with the balcony doors open, overlooking the town, the sea, the hills in the background.
It’s a very quiet town. Even with all the people living on top of each other. The only thing is the roosters that start crowing at 4:30 in the morning.
So far, Skopelos is wonderful. Heather is wonderful, and we are pretty happy. And relaxed. We have 8 more days on this island. Tomorrow we resume the working days.
Tomorrow is here and gone. It was a great day of uncovering stones from these old footpaths.
This is a trail that previous volunteers have uncovered.
Below, see the stones on the path behind where Jay is working? And see all the vegetation growing along the path? The plants and the dirt are hiding the border stones and the stone steps that used to make up this trail.
And I know this probably won't be too exciting for you, but when I hacked back all the weeds and brushed away some dirt and found this border stone next to my boot, I was very excited. I then uncovered about 50 feet or so of the border stones and started uncovering the rest of the trail. I'll take a few more pictures tomorrow when we go back to continue our work. It's very exciting to reveal these hidden paths.
Then we hit the beach and then hung out at a coffee shop/restaurant. We worked hard and are very tired.
By the way, most of the credits for these photos go to Jay, who has become the official photographer of this blog. He has taken some stunning photos.