An olive tree is a fine thing especially when you realise it may be many hundred years old and it survives on scant ground with extremes of weather on steep slopes of an island to which they were introduced and established against these considerable odds.
For us sweltering on a fine summers day on Paxos the mere 40 degrees and high humidity meant all we could do was to rush for the shade and hope for a breeze. The olive tree nearly always our sanctuary. And as we meandered the inland parts those lovely ranks of dark twisting trunks with a complete flickering canopy made for a most agreeable refuge in the midday sun.
And we learnt that the many retaining walls helped retain moisture from the fast falling storm rain and so to foster the roots to drive moisture up into the fruit and make the tree productive and a reason for those early Venetians to build empires not of bear scraggy rocks but of now gloriously pretty productive tree covered bluffs down to the sea.
And as much as we could understand the cantons of this arboriculture on this small island, the dotting of many chapels and churches : 39 in 1686–two dating back to the 6th Century; 45 in 1739; and 51 in 1781, and we understand 64 today
amongst the trees gave credence to the families who built them to give thanks to a higher being for their prosperity and godly guidance……the greeks thank God the whole time.
And to Lakka we went to taste the pressings of delicious globular golden liquid translucent with hints of the very green of the tree in the one olive factory remaining.
All this on an island one might have been forgiven for thinking was ambitious and conspicuous in fishing but it seems to me the olive trees have stood predominant and are gradually coming back into fashion as a serious crop, whilst at the same time providing the odd tourist with a welcome umbrella to the beating sun.
and if you need good people with humour and knowledge about travel, housing and any tickets, you can do little better than call Irene at Routsis – a family run business who know everything.
this is where you could end up: a fishing village surrounded by olives – thanks to the Venetians
Lakka from the bay
or walk to Orkos just over the hill with shade and tranquility and you may also thank god. I did.