I felt quite refreshed after my lunch. In fact, I decided that I was energized enough to continue exploring the hills, rather than heading back towards the beach. I reversed my way down the orange, spraypainted route and took the left-hand fork. Soon, the slope dropped away precariously beneath me and I had to cling to branches to keep from sliding. I also had to duck my head under the giant spider webs woven between the trees. Arachnids the size of Shelob sat waiting for their next meal.

But what lay right below me was worth the steep incline and spider scares. A tiny beach popped into view over the treeline. It was a cove, nestled into the rockface. Green-gray water lapped up along the rocks. It took me a few more minutes to find a way through the thick brush. Once again, I was rewarded with a spectacular sight:

I scrambled down the last of the bank to get to the beach, when suddenly I heard a voice talking. And then a voice answering. There was no one in sight, so I crept forward. And I was rewarded with a not-so-spectacular sight: 5 guys bronzing their behinds on the beach. Before any of them noticed my presence, I scrambled back up into the bushes. So much for my mini-Paradise.

I was about to give up on my quest for archaeological ruins, but there was one more path left to be explored. I traced my steps back and forked the other way this time. Within just a few steps, I spotted an “Archaeological Site” sign, half overgrown by brambles. I jogged up the rest of the hill, with my backpack bouncing against me. A fence had been erected around the site, but part of it at the front had been conveniently rolled back for instant access. Apparently (and thankfully), archaeological sites did not attract men in their birthday suits. I set my pack down and studied the stones spread out before me.

The area had not been dug up in quite some time. Weeds grew between all the wall structures. The outline of the tomb, however, was very distinctive.

After successfully visiting all the sites on this side of the ridge, I realized that I still had a lot more to explore…. another day (such as: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5LlnS0Wfe0). Back down at the beach, I was relieved to exchange my briar-covered tennis shoes for flip-flops. The far side of the lagoon looked rather empty, so I headed off in that general direction. Halfway around the bay, however, I ran into two girls from my house! They invited me to join them, and I readily agreed. We lounged around for the next six hours, lathering on tanning oil and jumping in the water when the sun became unbearable.

I was not entirely at peace until I pulled a book out to read. Aunt Renee had loaned me a few books that she thought would be of particular interest to me. On this particular day, I had brought along Pausanius’ Guide to Greece. While I found the writing of this Ancient Greek geographer and historian rather dry, there was an amazing chapter on Messinia. The very last page of the section details “a cave inside the city, where they say Nestor and even before him Neleus used to herd their cattle…” (p.191). The commentary on this paragraph is even more interesting: “The cave is not far below the castle on the northern slopes. Nestor’s son’s tomb must be the small Mycenaean tholos tomb nearby, above the tiny harbour called Boidokoilia, where traces of worship in the classical period were found…”

Spending the day relaxing AND exploring ancient history= Priceless.

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