So in place of something more insightful and verbose, as the journal entry title might have suggested, here is a really much more abbreviated story to suffice the late hour and remnant jet lag. In search of a break, a maybe-somehow-vacation, a cultural-immersion-adventure, or really anything in between, I found myself trekking through small white-painted villages high in the mountains. Their charm stems not just from the unique exterior, but predominantly from their quiet way of life in the isolation of their terraced lands.
It was a nice change to explore small towns in the absence of a larger tourist presence, something that often interfered with a true cultural understanding and honest photographic depiction. The few tourists I did see were scattered and considerate, and the few tourist groups in town stayed close to buses with little intention to stay past an hour.
Heavy carpet-like drapes, with patterns to contrast against the constant white paint, shielded the doors from the persistent and gentle breeze, and small dogs wandered in their invisibly distinguished territory, occasionally straying just a bit further to greet guests.
And then it was time for one of the most exciting sub-adventures of the trip: the ascent of the mountain peak. Honestly, it was known to be a much more daunting task than I was planning to admit, but the exhilaration of prancing outdoors in the darkness of the early morning was more than I could contain. Despite the darkness, I could see the mountains take shape in front of the beautiful night sky. The rocky landscape made for a somewhat slippery stumble behind the headlamp beam, but it was nothing in comparison with the curious pairs of reflecting eyes in every which direction, often the first thing to be seen around a sharp turn. Finally, with the ever increasing wind and indication of the impending storm, I bunkered down to watch the night sky, and keep tabs on one particularly interested set of reflecting eyes circling my spot at a distance.
A few hours and a good portion of my rations later, the dawn sprung from behind the mountain ridge swinging the temperature from the low 40's into the high 70's, and I fussed about to prepare for a birding adventure in the newfound sunlight. Flowers of red, white and yellow popped open like shopkeepers ushering in the insects, tailed closely by hungry songbirds.
And of course, it's nearly impossible to take a walk from the backcountry back to civilization without seeing wonderfully fun sights worth a photograph or two.
The north side of the mountains were distinctly different from the south, specifically in the biomes and busier lifestyles. Cultivated lands extended outward from small houses, with tree arrangements at the discretion of the farmers. Olive trees were by far the most common, but fig trees seem interspersed with other fruit trees wherever they seemed to favor growing.
There was a hike, fancy in nature, that pulled me from the comfy bed once again. The chaparral-ish landscape bordering a fertile canyon, already grandiose in presentation, sung with the songs of countless birds, and I found myself racing down to have a look. Alas, I had not travelled with the preferred wildlife equipment, but rather with a compromise of sorts, and thus, my expectations were tailored appropriately. It was, after all, already wonderful to see a whole new set of fluttering friends.
And a bird list, of course:
|(Common) Chaffinch||Blue Rock Thrush|
|(Common) House Martin||Cirl Bunting|
|(Common) Pochard||Common Sandpiper|
|(Eurasian) Black Vulture||Eleonora’s Falcon|
|(Eurasian) Collared Dove||Grey Wagtail|
|(Eurasian) Coot||Gull-billed Tern|
|(European) Blue Tit||Little Egret|
|(European) Goldfinch||Little Ringed Plover|
|(Greater) Flamingo||Marbled Duck|
|(Red-billed) Chough||Moltoni’s Warbler|
|Azure-winged Magpie||Monk Parakeet|
|Barn Swallow||Red-crested Pochard|
|Black Redstart||Red-legged Partridge|
|Black-bellied Sandgrouse||Sardinian Warbler|
|Black-headed Gull||Slender-billed Gull|
|Black-winged Stilt||Tufted Duck|
Stay tuned, more photographs are coming soon!