While the beach is rocky, the crystal clear waters of Monemvasia's beaches is still enticing, especially on a warm day like today. Michael and I, anticipatingly the warm water we'd sampled (hands only) in much colder Kardimyli, waded in eagerly.
"Oy! Cold!" I cried.
The water was not so warm after all.
But while each step exposed new skin to a shock of cold, the reality was that it only took a few seconds to adjust, and soon we were swimming in the soothing salt water. Joined by two others in our group, we found ourselves drifting further and further from shore with very little effort. Before long we realized we were more than half way to the rock island that put Monemvasia on the map. The challenge was on! We swam all the way to the island's pier, then managed to make it back through now choppy waters.
We'd visited the island earlier in the day, learning about squirting cucumbers and all other manner of plant life from our guide, David. We hiked to the ruins of the citadel, winding up the steep sides of the natural rock fortification, marveling at the sweeping views of the village below and the deep blue Mediterranean. Michael, attracted by the idea of making as many cucumbers squirt as possible, found a long, thorny stick with which to poke them. The small, prickly wild cucmbers really do squirt - somettimes spraying people as far as five feet from the offending cuke. It's a strangely addicting habit, walking along poking at little green globes in hopes you'll get it to explode.
We decided to commemorate our time in Monemvasia with a poster print of the town created by a local artist. Stylistically rendered, the poster shows the town nestled against the rocky bluff, ruins and the church of Agia Sofia dotting the hilltop. The artist himself showed me the work he was currently finishing - he painstakingly inked each dot and line to sreate a web of miniscule geometric designs framing boxes of color.
"I've worked on this for one month, every day," he told me.
I was impressed with his dedication, and asked if I might take a photograph with him, showing the man behind the art.
"No, take a picture of the posters," he said. "I am nothing."
Nothing, that is, if not modest.
But Monemvasia has been a highlight of the trip for me so far, and thanks to him, I will have always have a way to remember it.