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  • Shelley Dark

#8 Carnival Ydra style

This is dawn from my window this morning. I keep forgetting that there are pigeons sleeping on the terracotta roof next door. They couldn't give a toss about the fine wire fringing along all the ledges. I don't know who gets the bigger fright when I throw the windows open - me or the pigeons who rise into the air with a huge fluttering of wings. They fly away and I don't see them come back. I wish I could apologise.

But let me tell you about today's festival. We are at the end of Apokreas - the Greek carnival season preceding Lent.  It has its roots in ancient Greece, celebrating the god of wine Dionysus, the beginning of Spring, and life’s rebirth after winter. 

I'm not surprised that the churches eventually absorbed these pagan celebrations into their religious year - a case of if you can't beat them, join them.

medieval masquerade carnival 

The festival today was a masquerade parade. Historically it meant that you could lose your identity, ignore all the rules of good conduct, men dress as women and vice versa, and be silly without anyone knowing who you are. From what I could see, it's still the same.

It started at 2.30pm at Votsis Square. By the time I arrived, the band was playing and people were milling about in their fancy dress costumes, exclaiming over each other. 

The procession is based on an outrageous wedding party, with an ageing bride, her children bridesmaids and pregnant (pretend) teenagers. Little ones were dressed as their favourite cartoon characters, adults were dressed as pirates, packs of cards, sponge divers. Great fun!

The whole wedding party marched around the harbour ending at a live band, where the wedding ceremony began. 

​The donkey was in the lead of the procession and played the part of a mobile sound system...

The spirit of the festival led the wedding procession.

Then the bride and groom.

These grownup babies were the bridesmaids and held the bride's train. 

The guest list: the artist, the scullery maid and the bunny?

The pack of cards.

A weird  nephew?

When I asked her mother if I could take her photo, this sweet child nodded vigorously!

Can you see the dog, who wants to be part of the action?

A couple of Mexican ring-ins. The cigarette is on the phone.

When the world isn't taking a photo of you, take one of yourself.

The den of pirates had the best costumes....

Including grandpa.

The wizard gave a thumbs up.

Princess Blue

Mimi from a shop across the harbour.

This looks like a real sponge diver's suit from the 20th century. Hydriots were diving for sponges in the 1800's. Maybe you can remember Sophia Loren looking so gorgeous, diving for sponges in the movie Boy on a Dolphin?

Part of the band.

Not sure!

This little one wasn't too sure about being there, but great-granny was.

Even Long John Silver was there...

When I left at about 5 they were still Zorba dancing and I can still hear the happy music through the open window.

looking back at the western harbour - my apartment is at the end of the rock groyne, the four windows on the first floor.

I went for a walk on the eastern side of the harbour before lunch, up some steep steps near the naval academy and then around to the other side of the bluff on the way to Mandraki along the coastline. 

I can't say the gardens on Hydra are manicured or even carefully tended, but the citrus crop is amazing.

The cats were waiting for the fishing boat to be unloaded.

This big ship was disgorging passengers for the carnival. Many people were pulling bags, making a long weekend by staying over for the public holiday tomorrow.

A little girl thrilled to be on a donkey.

Now and then, when you turn a corner, the simplicity of architectural line is quite breathtaking.

These pretty little flowers enjoy hard going in the cracks in the paving. 

Isn't the water beautiful? 

Tomorrow is Clean Monday or Katheri Deftera. I thought it must be a day like our Clean Up Australia Day. But no, it's a public holiday - when souls have been cleaned and purified ready for fasting during Lent. People fly home-made kites just down the coast at Vlychos Beach. Maybe I'll take a sea taxi! 

Did you know that the word carnival actually means 'carne' = meat, 'vale' = goodbye. So goodbye meat? But shellfish is allowed, so tomorrow the restaurants will serve seafood.

Maria is going to meet me under the clock tower at 11am on Tuesday.

Until tomorrow, buddies,

shelley dark, writer 

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