We are cycling to the south of Crete to visit Joanna and Prodromos, a couple we’ve met through the local farmers’ co-op. First twenty-five kilometers or so are a slow climb higher and higher. Later we’ll enjoy an amazing downhill ride in the three dimensional landscape of layers upon layers of hills, with valleys in between. Somewhere along the way, after crossing the magic border between the north and the south, with the passing time it gets more and more hot. When we reach the main road on the south, in full sun, Lima already has her mad gaze on and we are also low on power. For the last hill in the Apoini village, I get off the bike and walk.
After the greetings and a bit of rest we get up again to walk around the property. I am very curious about the plantation of herbs, of which I already known from the co-op. We take a look at the vegetable garden adjoining the house and next leave the sunburned village to reach a hillside. “We will build our home here” says Joanna, pointing at a steep slope and a narrow strip of flat land. I am a bit surprised and wonder if it’s even possible, but then remember all the Greek villages kind of glued to the mountainsides. We proceed to the other side of the slope, still in anticipation of a flat piece of land with herbs on it. Instead, we slowly mince along a narrow path on the steep terrain which slopes down into a little valley only to rise up again at an even steeper angle. Sliding around in my flat-soled sneakers I now understand why Jo put her trekking shoes on.
The herbs grow in small clumps everywhere, including the opposite, steep slope. What I see is completely different from what I’ve expected. The heat is exhausting, but still I continue walking and listening. Jo is telling us with great passion about every little bush, every tiny tree. The area is quite large and the plants scattered around everywhere, but she knows exactly which little stick is a mango, which a fig, and which a goji berry. What’s more, she remembers when she planted each one of them. We make stops on the way to turn on and off the intricate system of irrigation pipes. Jo is talking about how it all started, with breaks to name the plants we’re passing by, while we listen and rub different aromatic leafs with our fingers. We hear about the plans for this land, which will be transformed into a big permacultural food forest. The herbs will spread among the fruit trees and the vegetables will grow on the flat spaces. There will be tiny paths to walk on and try all the fruit varieties. She tells us they bought the land from family who think their ideas are crazy and a waste of time. This doesn’t seem to discourage them, to the contrary, it makes them even more determined. Jo spots a bird nest for us, so that we can see the little ones opening the mouths to get some worms. A dignified bird of prey circles above the highest tree in the valley. We start feeling good here.
When we reach the highest point and sit down staring at the panorama of the plateau underneath and mountains hiding the sea, we are completely sold on this Vision. We see clearly the garden-oasis in ten years from now and we want to be here, climbing among the ripe mangoes, picking the oregano warmed up by the sun and rest in the valley on an old trunk hiding little scorpions in its depths.
We go back to the house where we meet with Prodromos, who is taking us to his other plot of land. On the way we check on the goat who is expecting and we find two little newborns. “You’re so lucky!” he shouts, beaming with happiness and alternately petting the little ones and the mama. We go to another field, where in between the rows of wine, along the irrigation pipes, he is experimenting with some water demanding varieties of plants. His strong drive and love for what he’s doing is so infectious that after a while we are sold again and feel adventurous sowing psychodelic-colored beans which he got from friends who visited the Amazon. In the evening we crash on the bed, very tired but very well-fed with the experience, having high hopes for the success of the projects. When good people dream, good things will come to life.