Voidokilia. I had heard the word dozens of times. It had taken me two weeks to figure out that it was the name of a specific beach in the area. People are rather picky about their beaches here. Every turn of the coastline brings about different wave patterns and wind conditions. Some beaches have bars and lounge chairs, while others are more private and serene. Voidokilia was in the latter category.
Today was my day off, so I decided I needed to check this place out. I needed a day to relax at the beach, but I also wanted a bit of an adventure. I asked my coworkers, Saba and Thomas (Thomas is back in town!), to drop me off on their way to work. The walk was a little farther than I bargained for, and I got a little bored– so I decided to film my adventure…
(I just found out that this blog site does not support movies. Bummer. Oh well! I’ll just put them up on youtube for you)
I walked through acres of olive groves and orange trees. A branch loaded with apricots hung temptingly over the road, but I knew there was a small market waiting just up ahead.
A very small market. But I was able to pick up a large bottle of water, some of those wonderful apricots, and a bag of fresh chocolate croissants. I continued up the road, cheered by the signs listing Voidokilia as 1000m, 800m, 400m… Why do meters feel so much longer than yards?
Just as I hit the “Voidokilia, 50m” sign (nearly an hour after I’d begun my trek), I noticed a road going up the side of the hill.
The beach was just around the corner, but I thought that maybe there would be a neat view from the top of the road. And I knew that once I made it to the beach, I would never want to leave! It was a short hike up the hill and then…
The colors are really terrible on my camera. I wish you could really see the brilliance of the water. The sea here has more shades of blue than I have ever seen before. Light blue at the tideline, then dipping to a deep navy as it gets a little deeper, then an immense span of turquoise. I headed back down towards the beach, but got distracted by another sign:
Archaeology??! Okay. I gotta go check that out. [Side note: “B”s are pronounced like “V”s in Greek. Thus the difference in spelling of Voidokilia]
I headed up another sandy path, which soon forked. I went to the right. Another fork. Uh-oh. Where was I going? I spotted an orange dot spray-painted on a rock and decided that if somebody had bothered to mark it, then there must be something in that direction! I headed off, uphill again, following the randomly marked rocks. Until I saw a little white house. Somebody lives up here? I wondered. As I got closer to it, I realized it was actually a tiny church, surrounded by a tiled patio and white pillars. A bell, rusted with age, was fixed to one corner. I slid the latch on the door and was stunned by the decor. Icons and candles filled the small room.
The moment moved me. I was standing in this old church, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I couldn’t help but think, The Lord is so Good. He meets us right where we are and transforms our awe into glory and praise. I knelt in the middle of the room and just said a small prayer of thanks.
A little while later, I stood up and took a closer look at the paintings and beautifully crafted decorations. Several candles were nestled in a box on the table. I was not raised in the Greek Orthodox tradition, but I knew that candles were lit as a symbol of prayer. A box of matches was in a nearby corner, so I lit a candle and thought of my grandfather back home. He has been growing weaker and weaker this year, but I was able to spend two wonderful weeks with him before I left for Greece. I love my Papa and I dearly miss him.
I went back outside and felt the breeze pick up. My stomach was starting to grumble, so I took a seat and unpacked my small lunch. The apricots tasted like they had just been picked this morning and the water was still cool. I leaned back against the side of the church and soaked it all in: the mountains, the ocean, the sweet taste of fruit, the old bell, and the sense that God was truly in this place.
But that was not the end of my adventures for the day! There is much more to come…