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these stones are not content under any stranger’s step,
these faces are not content without their sun,
these hearts are not content without justice.
Yiannis Ritsos – translation by Avi Sharon
These four verses of ‘Romiosini’, written by the great modern Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos, literally reign respectively in the blood and the roots of the people and the place he knew, grew up in, and loved… the ‘stone flower’… Laconia in southern Greece.
The historic region of the Peloponnese, which includes the region between Mount Taygetos and Cape Matapan, also known as Tenaron, was known as the ‘Free Laconia’, and as the ‘country of Magna-Hora of Mani’ in 1824 – the sovereign Greece and the morale of the rebellious Greeks that was “never forgotten and will never be forgotten.” These epithets are but the smallest sign of honor and gratitude for the contribution of the Maniates to the creation of the Greek State.
Areopolis – the land of the Mavromichalis clan, the place where the first flag of the Greek revolution was raised in 1821 – as it had maintained its independence throughout the Ottoman Turkish occupation – was built on the foothills of mount Profitis Ilias of the province of Laconia. With its cobblestone streets and historical monuments, it is among the most picturesque and most beautiful traditional settlements of Greece!
The overseer of the cave of Diros and resident of Areopolis, Ilias Goudis, guided us to the heart of … the square of the Immortals, where the stones used by the Maniates to support the Greek flag raised on March 17, 1821 – with the inscription “Victory or Death” – are located. The heroes of 1821 went there after first going to the historic church of Pammegiston Taxiarhon, the metropolis, the Cathedral of Areopolis, afterwards proceeding with the liberation struggle.
Beneath the humble landscape of Mani, on the western coast of the Laconian Peninsula, in the Bay of Diros… nature with incomparable art and patience sculpted a miracle beyond all imagination: The Cave of Vlychada Dirou, with its white stalactites and stalagmites. Imposing curtains and sparkling crystals adorn every corner, creating an unparalleled sight that takes your breath away
Our tour took place along a 1,200m long ‘lake route’ in wooden boats and took around 25 minutes.
It is no coincidence that there, on the beach of Diros, this year saw the re-enactment of the anniversary of the heroic battle of Diros (1826), where the women of Mani, using as their weapon the sickles they used to reap their grain, inflicted a serious blow on the invincible – until then – army of the infamous Ibrahim Pasha on the shores of Diros.
Everything we experienced there, in the company of the president of EOT, Angela Gerekou, the coordinator and main organizer Dimitris Rozakis, and the well-known and excellent sculptor Petros Georgiou – whose great works of art dominate the length and breadth of Laconian Mani – you will also have the opportunity to enjoy at www.ekirikas.com and www.thenationalherald.com.
It is important to note that although today Mani remains administratively divided into the municipalities of East Mani and West Mani, it maintains its indivisibility and integrity.
Our show chose to spend the night at En Plo Suites in Karavostasi, Mani, where we were directly introduced to the warm hospitality, the luxury, the tradition, and the endless blue sea!
In fact, a little further on, in the fish tavern of a modern Black Pirate (‘Mavros Piratis’) – Nikos Doveas, among fresh fish, we cooked Maniatikos Lobster… the so-called Kolochtipa!
This blessed place, whose peculiarity is the unique combination of the rock and the sea is not considered “the land of the olive tree” for nothing, since it is famous for its high quality oil production.
We were fortunate to experience the real characeteristics of the highest quality production through Akra Morea and Mr. Kostas Christoforkis, owner and Product Manager of this company that literally adorns the science of oil production with gold medals from all other the world.
Akra Morea and the premium class oil Akra Morea Olive Oil is located, not by chance, in Monemvasia, in the southeast of the Peloponnese. This oil is extracted at a temperature below 21 degrees C and filtered immediately. With an acidity of 0.21 and a polyphenol value of 439 mg/kg, this unique oil is considered one of the most exceptional oils in Greece!
Mr. Christoforakis, an engineer with training and many years of experience in olive oil production, talked to us about the “friends and enemies” of oil (among them light, water, etc.) and the basic stages of quality production. He explained in a simple and understandable way how we can recognize premium class olive oil:
Mani used to be very densely forested, but the many fires, overgrazing and the hot and dry climate have contributed to the creation of a natural area that is bare and seemingly infertile. The plains near the coast are inhabited and cultivated, however, while the few mountain villages are built on stony, flat hills, with the necessary olive trees and vines. In the southern part of Mani, and particularly towards the Mesa Mani, the soil becomes stonier and the climate more rugged, and the crops become increasingly scarce. However, the area is rich in plants, some of which grow nowhere else. Although the absence of forests is particularly noticeable, the loss is made up for by the presence of olive trees and the abundance of flowers.”
On the tiny beaches, with the transparent crystal clear waters shimmering with the grace of nature, the 600 summer swimmers of the Oceanman open water swimming races who visited us from 34 countries around the world, seem to float in a liquid, turquoise universe…The Otilos!
Mr. Thanasis Papadimitriou, president of ‘EY ZHN’ and Mr. Armandos Linardos, race director of Oceanman Greece, welcomed us to the popular internationally renowned event, enriching us with knowledge and respect for the sea, love for the sport of swimming, but also with an understanding of how the most ancient saying ‘EY ZHN – well-being’ can stand alongside modern Greece and its lands when we become capable of combining tourism, sport, health, and well-being with simple actions… interaction between the different cultures!
Among the participating athletes was Christos Koromilas, President of Iona AMEA and member of the Board of Directors of the Lighthouse of the Blind of Greece, the Guide Dogs for the Blind of Greece, and the EAM AMEA (The Greek National Sports Federation for People with Disabilities).
One could say that the smiling and dynamic Christos Koromilas, a modern ‘Mavromichalis’ is a great ambassador of ‘EY ZHN’ and its teaching because through a single interview he managed to filter out for us the true relation between life and water: human passion and emotion.
This passion, that knocked on his door 14 years ago, depriving him of one of the basic senses – sight, became “a vehicle for transporting positive energy from the mines of the heart to the jewels of visions.”
Hard Stone – Warm Heart
This phrase could be a reflection of the age-old equation between the land and the soul of the Maniates. You see them, you hear them, you experience them standing proudly on the rocks of morality resisting any threat, any hijacking of human consciousness!
We now are pleased to announce that our travel show ‘APOSTOLI – MISSION’, which aims through travel endeavors to stimulate interaction between the people of Greece and the Hellenic diaspora with the rest of the peoples of the world by highlighting our ‘common roots’ as well as our ‘interesting differences’, has opened a ‘portal’ of cooperation with the STAR network and will be shown from now on also on ODYSSEYTV in America, as well as in Greece on Zina Koutselini’s show ‘Truths with Zina’.
NEW YORK — Two New York City police officers and a bystander raced to save a man who fell on the tracks at a Manhattan subway station, plucking him out of the way of an oncoming train in a daring rescue captured by an officer's body camera.
HONOLULU — As Hawaii's governor, David Ige faced a volcanic eruption that destroyed 700 homes, protests blocking construction of a cutting-edge multibillion-dollar telescope and a false alert about an incoming ballistic missile.
LONDON - A traditional song titled ‘Μια μάνα απόψε μάλωνε - A mother tonight was scolding’ was heard in the streets of London! In other words… a singer of traditional Greek songs, Gogo Moustoyannis, noted in a post on her Facebook page that she felt the need to sing a song while walking in London.
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