Bob, May, 2012
I was in Matala the winter of 1968-1969 and wrote this recollection, which was never included in the blog:
Thanks for forwarding the various commentaries and recollections about Matala to me. I guess it's time to add my own:
I spent the summer of ’67 in Corfu mostly, drawing sketches in the olive groves, partying and living over a restaurant with a very noisy jukebox. I was glad to be free from Canada and my bourgeois and frustrating past and finally having some pleasant adventures toodling around Greece, which I’d begun to love with a passion. It wasn’t till I got to Matala that I found a home, or at least a damp cave too close to the water's edge for any comfort. I met new friends, including the lovely Shirley, and reveled in the life of being frankly another character on that beach. I stayed through the fall till February after most of the summer kids had left, renting a small house (a room) on the opposite side of the caves. The late fall and winter seemed like a wild and pagan life to me. A great endless wind from Africa would pour over the south of Crete for days on end, with huge waves. Beyond the caves in the cliffs to the west was a slit in the rock tunneled down to the cliff face where the surf would zoom up in a powerful fountain. We could hear this in the morning when the surf was really up, a huge booming in the distance, and clambering out there we’d throw rocks to see them fly up in the spume.
In the distance was snow on Mt. Ida and below olive groves and tiny hillside villages in the distance. A beautiful life, so primitive and cut off from everything.
The bus service stopped and so there was a trek once a week to Mires to get fruit and vegetables, ten miles or so, stopping in Pitsidia for those tiny coffees with the curious eyes of Greeks always on us. Every once in a while a policeman would scooter down to Matala to show the flag, I guess, but what could he make of us or do with us for that matter?
Oh there was ouzo and retsina and the fiery raki at night with the jukebox blaring over the beach, dancing wildly, so many stars in the black sky.
Not all was cute: here’s a poem I wrote mid-winter:
Matala- the sea is crude
my friends much worse
the natives rude
the rain a curse.
There were just a couple of small basic restaurants on the beach, a room inside and a few tables and chairs outside. I think the owners actually liked us, well we were their only business in the winter and my Greek was getting better. One of them (Costas I think) got us excited about a Christmas dinner of pig (which I envisioned roasted golden brown with an apple in its mouth), which I had to help slaughter. It was huge and very unwilling to die with many screeching howls and kicks with my job holding on to his hind foot. The Christmas dinner was chunks of pig fat in soup complete with hairs!
But the landscape around was beautiful and Crete empty of tourists, green and lush with our area near Mires being the top winter fruit and vegetable spot. Some of the kids with absolutely no funds worked picking vegetables for the Greeks but they were treated pretty poorly. That winter was also the 6 day war in Israel and some land was commandeered from the shepherds for possible landing strips, but nothing came of it.
For me it was a time to be completely away from the world, away in the bottom of Crete, no rules, just let loose from everything in the civilized world, kind of juvenile really, but I loved it.
Love, Bob (Robert)