On our third day in Karpathos, it was my friend’s 23rd birthday. We didn’t have many plans for this day. We were just finished with our breakfast on the balcony when our host of Seaside Studios knocked on our door. She asked if we would like to come to the capital of Karpathos with her and her mother. We didn’t think much and said yes.
The way to Pigadia (The capital of Karpathos) was with many curves on the side of mountains. On the road, our host told us many stories about the locals.
She told us the story of how her father lived in the little village we passed. He had to walk 8km to school in Arkasa every morning and back after school. That’s where he met his future wife also. Unusual for us was that in Karpathos and possibly everywhere in Greece people still live with their families many generations all together. Grown-up children live with their kids, very close to or in the same house with their parents and grandparents. For our host, we seemed too young to be traveling that far. Even though we’re both 23 with my friend, our host told us she’s going to take care of us like we’re her children, because her own children are about the same age and she feels it’s so young.
She told us another story as well. This story she told us when we were passing a church upon a hill. There had been a young couple who got married in that church. Soon after their marriage, they got a son. Unfortunately, the mother had died and he remarried. The new wife didn’t like the child though. So she took him and threw him down from a cliff. Everyone around the island went down to search the little boy. They searched for days, just to find his dead body. When they finally found him he was alive and seemed alright. So they asked him, how is this possible and who’s been taking care of him. The little boy said it was a woman with a white wail. People in Karpathos believe it was the Virgin Mary. So every year August 15th they celebrate it and dance all day and night.
We thought it was a legend. But just to be sure I asked our host. She told me that of course, this is NOT a legend. The boy who’s now all grown-up lives in America and is a millionaire and sends money to the church every year. We were amazed by the story and still a little skeptic about it all. Especially since I don’t understand how could anyone throw a little boy down from a cliff!?
When we arrived in Pigadia we made arrangements for where we will meet and what time should we be there and went separate ways. I and my friend were just walking around the city first. Pigadia was also full of narrow streets like any other city and village on this island. People in Pigadia were very friendly to us. They were all greeting and welcoming us and staring. We felt as if we were celebrities or something.
People smiled at us and some asked us to come to eat at their restaurant. One young man even introduced himself to us. He said his name is Michael Angelo and showed that it was even written on his white t-shirt. We said our names, which are Mairis and Airis and the guy asked if we were joking. I mean, we were pretty sure HE was joking with his name. Anyway, he asked us where we’re from and where are we staying and offered us some coffee. When we told him we don’t drink coffee, he said we can also buy some juice, like fresh orange juice or something. We still declined and kept walking.
The beach in Pigadia was quite long. There were a lot of tourists sun-bathing. Not many people were swimming. Before coming there our host in our accommodation had said that the beach in Pigadia is not that pure, because ships also sail from the same water. Nevertheless, the water was still very clear. We sat there on some big rocks and enjoyed a beautiful day. We saw 3 guys stalking us but gladly they sat a bit away from us and didn’t come to bother us.
Pigadia is the most touristic town in Karpathos. There are a lot of hotels, guest apartments, and restaurants. In Pigadia, locals usually only deal with business. Many of them live in another town or village and come to Pigadia only when they need to. There is only ONE cash machine on the whole island and that is in Pigadia. For two consecutive years there was also one cash machine in Arkasa, but unfortunately, it didn’t work.
On our way back our host told us some other stories and facts about Karpathos. She told us that in Greece when someone in the family dies, the other family members wear black clothes for the whole year. That seemed a little odd to us but also understandable. The family grieves that way. She also told us that in Karpathos they turn the water off from 2pm-5pm to save the fresh water. This was something new to us and we never really noticed when they did that. Maybe this is just that way in Pigadia, the capital of Karpathos.
More in the next post: Celebrating Birthday in Karpathos part 2