Hydra: donkeys and cats and goats, oh my!

We wanted to visit at least one of “the Greek Isles” so we went to Hydra, an island off the southeastern fingers of the Peloponnese peninsula. The town at Hydra port has old buildings made of stone, plaster and stucco, all tightly packed together along the hillside around the harbor.

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Ahh, Hydra!

Knock Knock. Who’s there? Hydra, pronounced EE-drah, not HIGH-drah. Its colorful doors have beautiful old doorknockers. Many are in the shape of hands.

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Hands are for knocking.

On our rainy March trip, we had the impression that the island’s population, highest to lowest, was cats, people, donkeys, dogs, garbage trucks (2), and no cars. The 1,900 people who live here were mostly inside while the cats and donkeys ruled the island.

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“Look at the cute donkey. What a great photo op.”

Actually, each morning, donkeys line up at the wharf like longshoremen waiting for their daily work assignments.

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The name “beast of burden” fits these donkeys.

They are loaded with all kinds of materials to deliver to other parts of the island. Since there aren’t any cars, donkeys provide the brute strength to carry heavy loads of building materials like large rocks and sacks of cement.

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The rocks have been carefully selected and tied on to create a balanced, but heavy load.

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Manpower is still needed to adjust the rigging. Not that it takes any weight off the donkey’s back, but it probably stabilizes the load to prevent spills.

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Is this the bundle of straw that will break the donkey’s back? Hope not.

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This procession is hauling bags of gravel to pave a walkway.

The harbor is filled with fishing boats and water taxis that take people around to the beaches elsewhere on the 20-mile-long island.

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Masses of yellow fishing nets just waiting to be used…or untangled first.

The cats come in all shapes and sizes.

Cat pics

In trees, on the paths, at the restaurants, on the seawall.

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Even camouflage.

The narrow streets in the hilly town are roughly paved with large stones. The donkeys navigate them quite easily. Cars would never fit. When it rains (and it did!) these streets become rivers. We had to walk through three inches of water when we went uphill from a restaurant to our hotel.

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Dry now, but when it rains, there is nowhere to escape the flood.

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Many of the “streets” marked on Google Maps are actually stairs.

Elsewhere on the island the streets turn to  rocky trails.

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Beautiful, peaceful walks with hillsides covered with wildflowers.

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By summertime, the beach umbrellas will be spruced up and the beach will fill with tourists enjoying the sun.

Hydra Flowers

The spring flowers are dazzling…

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and endless in colors and shapes.

Ahh, Hydra!

Before leaving the Peloponnese, we stopped at one more island, Poros. We took a 1Euro ferry ride across for a nice lunch. There is also a much larger car ferry, making this area not as peaceful as Hydra.

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The island of Poros has been inhabited for over 3,000 years. The clock tower is from 1927.

On our way back to modern Athens we had to slow for an animal crossing, just like in the movies.  A goatherd had about 30 nimble goats scrambling over a small hill and down into a valley. His sheepdog didn’t seem to have any effect on the herd, but they seemed to listen to the goatherd. He yelled as one of the goats strayed onto the road and the goat did an about-face immediately.

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A modern-day goatherd with an ancient-style staff.

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Only distracted for a short time by the cars, this goat was back on the hillside faster than you can say “bahhh.”

 

 

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