Thursday, 19 March 2009

More Aloni

The Koukoutakis aloni by Alfa Hotel is not the only one in the vicinity. Up the road past the Hotel and in front of the church of Agios Theodoru is another fine specimen of an aloni.
The church itself is built the wrong way round. Instead of facing East, as is customary in all Orthodox churches, Agios Theodoru is built facing North East. If you look inside carefully, you will see the remains of some fine frescoes, possibly from the famous frescoe painter Ioanis Pagomenos. There is also a 1000 year old cemetery below the current one. Just below the chuch walls are the remains of a small pirgos, a small watch tower, where, in Venittian days, the police would sit to watch the main road which ran by here then.
Since the main road used to go by here and because it was such a wide flat area that could hold many people, according to local stories, it was a place of gathering and secret speeches in the night.
It's a place where they once shot a Turk who was dumping his rubbish below onto a house of a Christian. The Christian got pissed off, got his musket out and and blew the Turk away!
On the other side of the clearing, heading down toward the Alfa Hotel by the pathway, are the remains of Kaouris Kafe; all the Turks used to gather there and below this is the cursed house -a haunted house where the children would die in the night until my great grandmother, Aleka, broke the spell by 'purchasing' one child. Also here is the position called kathia - meaning a sit down - where the hunters would sit on a moonlight night to hunt hares.
Many people have claimed to have seen a ghost here in the evenings while they were out hunting for hares and rabbits. Some of the sightings have been put down to pranksters who were caught because they boasted about it later in the kafenion but most of the ghost sightings have never been solved - leaving the villagers wondering if Agioss Theodoru is haunted? (It's right by the village cemetery and if you can't get a ghost there where would you get one?)

Saturday, 14 March 2009

That tree again...

The tree belongs to my fathers and is situated below the Koukoutsaki family aloni - shown in the photo above. An aloni is the circle of ground with a pressed earth or concrete floor used in the past as an area in which to thresh corn or other crops. The land around the tree and around the aloni belongs to my father Antonis; it belonged to his father Eftihis, his father Antonis and to his father, my great-great-grandfather, Giorgos and in time the tree will be passed on to me and then to my grandchildren.

The aloni itself belongs to every Koukoutsakis in the world - they all have the right to crush crops on that aloni although they don’t have any rights to the land.

The olive tree has always had this strange shape. For many years the raki distillery used to be right next to it but then the law became harsher so they had to hide it somewhere not so exposed.

This area was also in the old days a training ground for Koukoutsaki boys because it’s one of the few large, flat areas around that was suitable for target practice and other games were played here as well.

The tree is very old, maybe 600-700 years. A tantra group that was visiting Azogires once claimed that this tree was very sacred; they claimed to have been speaking with it and that the tree had asked for water so they gave it some.

There is also a legend of an old lady once appearing under the tree on a dark evening about 120 years ago scaring the shit out of a Koukoutsaki family famelio who was guarding the crops inside the aloni. He ran away shouting that he’d seen a ghost. To this day we don’t know who she was although she was probably lost and climbed up the hill scaring our Turkish famelio. (A famelio is a man that the family takes in and giving him food, clothes and some money in exchange for work. They also took care of his health and if he died they arranged his funeral and paid for the church service. He became part of the family and although he never got a pension, he would be fed and housed by the family until he died.)

Monday, 2 March 2009

And now for something completely different....

There is probably a story behind this olive tree but I don't know what it is just yet.....