12 August 2009

12 August

Last night I went for an evening pre-dinner walk (does anyone remember the name for that? Is it vesti or something? LB?) in the vague direction of the old Jewish Quarter.
I avoid the main arteries and so it becomes soothingly quiet. The babble of crowds is replaced by the voices of children echoing off the stone, and their mothers shouting after them - "Ella, ella! Pou ine?" An extra sense, a sort of tug on the collarbones, leads me down a sun dappled, cobblestoned alley, and I emerge into a noisy square. Have I somehow left the walls? But no, this is just a new corner I have yet to explore, and in the center of the whirlpool of milling tourists and taverna owners that solicit them, sits the obsidian memorial to the Holocaust victims of Rhodes and Kos, keeping a mute and solemn vigil. I push past offers of dinner and turn right up a side street from whence come more purposeful looking families. Locating the Synagogue, and confident I can re-find it the next day, I amble back to Romios Taverna, already busy at dusk. I explain to the now-familiar waitstaff that Amy has gone home (Where is your friend? Are you alone? Why?). I don't mind. I eat (stuffed grape leaves this time) and write and look - it is anthropological participant-observation in action. A cat stakes out my table and hovers, hopeful.


A word about the Apollo Guesthouse. My hosts are the wonderful Maggie and Ikuo. They moved to Rhodes and bought the property only 3 years ago. It is whitewashed and beautiful, with a large patio roofed by an arbor from which grapes hang in hellenistic bunches. Every morning they serve a breakfast of coffee, orange juice, yoghurt with honey and fruit, bread with jam, and sometimes watermelon (karpoozi). I'm not always a breakfast eater, but when it involves coffee and greek yoghurt and is in a picturesque setting, I enjoy it with relish. (This includes your kitchen, GPP and J...yum!)

After breakfast I explored the general Juderia area and wandered into a few churches - small, dimly lit and decorated with frescoes or mosaics - I never tire of them. I also went into the wonderfully restored Hospice of St Catherine - where guests of the higher-up Knights would stay when they visited Rhodes. I saw some Hellenistic and Byzantine parts of the fortification walls, and then made my way back to Kahal Shalom and its museum. I had a wonderful talk with Markos, an Athenian taking care of the place for the summer. There is a great exhibit about the history of the Rhodesian Jewish community, much of which has been donated by descendants of Holocaust survivors from Rhodes. There are ritual objects, clothes, passports, and many photos , mostly from 1900-1945. The story of the community, and the beautiful synagogue, made for a fulfilling morning.

Now its time to pack and do some last-day swimming or exploring!

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