15 Feb Vrikounda, Karpathos
Northern Karpathos is still relatively unknown, apart from Olymbos. Yet Olymbos is part of a string of settlements linked by history and agriculture, indeed agricultural history! The people of Olymbos farmed not just the land round their town, but also Avlona, the other valleys thereabouts, Vrikounda and even seasonally on the island of Saria. This was true until relatively recently. People I have talked to who are now in their sixties remember working in now vacant fields as adolescents. Visiting this mountainous settlement, I was struck by how any fertile land is utilised: nothing is wasted.
Coming down the hillside valley from Avlona, one arrives at the ancient settlement of Vrikounda. This is where the people of Olymbos originally lived until pirate attacks made them move further up the mountain. In this hostile environment, people etched out a living.
Whereas people still practice agricultural traditions such as cheese-making and there is still thriving cultivation in Avlona and the surrounding valleys, no one works the land at this site: only the field divisions remain. However, there are two churches in the area St. John and Agia Marina, the latter still in the patronage of a local family.