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A day at the beach

Voidokilia, looking out into the Ionian Sea

Voidokilia, looking out into the Ionian Sea

 

It was good, today. After excavating we travelled to a nearby cove, Voidokilia, the ox-belly. We rode again in the back of a pickup the last mile and a half to the beach. A beach unlike any other I’ve seen. The sand itself makes almost a complete circle around the cove. Rocky hills project out from the ends of the beach to close it off.

It was here where an engagement began between Spartans and Athenians that would ultimately lead to the Battle of Sphacteria, in which the Athenians would capture a hundred Spartans marroned on the island of Sphacteria (right across from my hotel, behind which the sun sets beautifully every day)>

The sun setting behind Sphacteria, where 100 Spartans were captured by the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War

The sun setting behind Sphacteria, where 100 Spartans were captured by the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War

On the south promontory lies Nestor’s Castle, a neolithic cave that, accoridng to legend, is where Nestor grazed his cattle and Apollo’s sheep were hidden. This place is named in the Odyssey. Above all lies a Frankish castle that looks down over the cove.

Palaikastro, Frankish castle

Palaikastro, Frankish castle

 

Normally, I’d be all over these fantastically historical sites, but today we only have ninety minutes, and I’m more interested in swimming. Those rocky cliffs are about a quarter mile out, and they call to me. I struggle against the incoming tide, fighting with my breast stroke, taking frequent breaks. Finally, I reach the outcroppings. I swim past. I’m out of the cove, just me and the Ionian Sea, nothing between me and Italy except the sailboats making good use of the brilliant weather.

Tomorrow, I’ll have to wake up at 5am. Tomorrow I will again dig in the hot sun for seven hours. Tomorrow I will again fight for a few minutes to post a quick entry. But today, now, I am floating on my back in the Ionian Sea. Today the sky is clear, the sun warms my face, the water is cold, and I am alive. Today I let the waves lap me gently back to shore, let the sun shine, let the moment come to me, let it be, let it end. I turn onto my stomach, kick, and begin my long swim back to the shore.

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