Off the Beaten Track in Lesvos & Kinilaw (Ceviche)
It’s been a kind of a trip I would say unexpected. We left Rhodes with an instruction from the boss that we should just move up north to Thessalonica slowly and enjoy the cruise. In most cases we just played with the weather. It’s again the meltemi season here in East Aegean, for those who are not familiar to this word, it’s the wind blowing from the north and it can churn the waters.
Yes the name sounds so romantic, but for us cruising, the feeling I can best describe it would be like inside the washing machine at its peak cycle.
The old name of the Meltemia was the Etesian winds. Mythologically, they are under the control of Boreas, the god of the North Winds.
So we are sheltering at the south west part of Lesvos. We were given a chance to go ashore, as I needed provision and for the crew to explore the place.
Just as when we approached the little port, women sitting at their verandas waved at us. Quite a welcome. And what a feeling to get off the tender and no one harassed us where to sit down for coffee or to eat or to buy what so ever. The whole place was eerily calm. Then I just realised that the locals were still slowly waking up from their siestas. We are in Greece after all, where such a pleasure is a must.
I stopped at the taverna to ask where the fishmonger is; It was obvious from the harbour scene that it’s a fishing village. Few men stood up and explained that as soon the fishermen arrive fish are sold then later taken to the fishmonger to Polichinitos.
So where is town? 5 kilometres at the top of the hill, a good 30 minute walk.
And how far is the main town of Mytilini?
More or less 36klms away.
So if there are fishing boats what is the best time to catch them before they haul away the catch?
After 8am is the best.
OK where is the greengrocer?
None, but there is a mini market.
Yes I was speaking with the locals in Greek.
Well at the mini market, we managed to get some potatoes, bananas, pear, peaches, grapes, milk and locally grown tomatoes. Not so bad for such a tiny port village. Then I told the crew to find a place to sit down for some drinks while I wandered around. At one of the back streets (well there were only two parallel to the port) there local men were playing cards and the women were all seated fanning themselves and talking.
The younger generation are either in Athens or Thessalonica, not really so surprising as these places are so far flung. With the meltimia blowing they can sometimes get cut off.
We sat down at the taverna and ordered ouzo and the others had frappe. Oh the crew love the Greek frappe. You can’t be in Lesvos and not drink ouzo. Lesvos is known for this drink. I asked for a mild one so I settled for Mini which my crew mate Laura, agreed was great. Ouzo by the way is anise-flavoured aperitif similar to the taste of liquorice.
Laura ordered grilled octopus while I asked for grilled calamari, which we shared with the rest. It was just perfect to sit and enjoy watching the locals as we have been anchored for few days and the change of scenery is just what we needed.
I managed to have a talk with the owner of the tavern, Kiria Toula, her husband was with the men playing cards, and her sons did the service. I asked her if there are foreign tourists.
Mostly Athenians and the one who have left elsewhere and coming back for summer holidays. I saw two buildings with sign “domatia” meaning rooms.
I do not expect something grand in this kind of place but I would not mind staying here. There are olive groves, hills and the sea.
The atmosphere of the village life is so vibrant and the locals are so friendly.
It’s something I have seen in Greece when we first arrived long way back 1984 and I felt it here again at Skala Polichinitos.
I walked towards the fishing boats and talked with the fishermen while they were mending their nets. One lovely old man challenged me to guess his age. Their faces are wrinkled from the harsh winds but such a happy crowd.
Anyway he said come tomorrow around 8 and you can have your fish. Just before bidding him goodbye, he dug some green figs from his basket and handed them to me.
I was so touched with such kindness and felt I have re acquainted to the Greece I have always known. I sound like having a Greek heart than a Filipina I guess.
Just as we were leaving the old ladies reminded me that we must come back on Sunday, as the village will have a “panirgiri”, a festival. It’s the feast of their patron saint, Agio Yanni, (St John’s) . How much I wished I could but with this wind blowing we might move to the next bay and how right I was.
The next day I scrambled out of bed early and asked the mate to launch the tender. I could see one fishing boat after another entering the bay…
I asked Laura to come as she loves checking local produce too and like me she has this wandering soul I can relate to.
The port was crowded and one boat was just loading crates of fish mostly mackerel, anchovies, red mullet and a few shrimps.
We bagged few mackerel, 2 kilos of anchovies and 2 kilos of baby shrimps. And I smelled bread and pastries. Oh a mobile bakery, the bread here is has anise seed too and we bought two loaves and some spinach pie.
There was another van with watermelon and melons. Perfect! After having Greek coffee we went back to the boat and I immediately called Rene, our engineer.
Showed him the anchovies and asked him if he can do “kinilaw” ( the Filipino word for ceviche).
I had to help him fillet and de bone them if I we want to have it for lunch. Rene added chopped onions, chillies, ginger and white vinegar.. that was it.