Visibility Check

Visibility Check
If the mountaintops are obscured by clouds, it is not wise to travel.

The winding narrow road that goes from the southern coast near Magganitis over the top of the Atheras ridge becomes dangerous in weather like this. We have gotten used to checking visibility daily.

Mountain Clouds
This is the only morning we forgot to look up.

This photo represents our drive over the top of the mountain. Shortly after the photo was taken, we almost collided with a car that was driving down the middle of the road with no headlights on. I wish I could say this is unusual – but in Greece, most drivers seem to have a death wish.

Mountain Clouds

Mountain Clouds
Trees start to appear in the clouds.

Mountain Clouds

Steep Hill Sign
We’ve cleared the tallest part of the ridge, and can now see the usual road signs once again.
Two Vehicles Stopped
And the usual traffic jams.

These two vehicles are stopped in the middle of the road while the drivers have a nice leisurely conversation. This is an extremely common sight in Ikaria, where no one is ever worried about time.

Pickup with goatskin and wine
Ikaria’s population is not many more than 8000 people – and in the wintertime, even fewer. This means it is usual to see the same vehicle on the road multiple days in a row.

We see this blue pickup almost every day we take our car out. This particular day, it is transporting a fresh goat skin and a barrel of wine.

Three-wheeled truck
A three-wheeled truck transporting olives.
Exclamation Sign
These exclamation signs are all over the island. They are a warning for danger ahead.
Faded Stop Sign
This long-ignored stop sign finally gave up.
A supermarket on the North shore, built in the middle of nowhere on the edge of the sea. Also, the only location of cheddar cheese on the entire island.
Megalo Fragma
Megalo Fragma, a lake created by Pezi Dam.

This reservoir is located at an altitude of 1600 feet in a natural depression created by the mountaintops surrounding Raches. Because the location was naturally efficient for the collection of rainwater flowing off the mountain peaks, Ikarians constructed a small dam here, on the river Myrsonas, that captures the water that would otherwise go to waste.

In times of heavy rainfall, the excess water flows into the sea as it would naturally. No project to harness this excess water has yet been finalized, though over the years, there have been murmurings of a project for a hydroelectric plant.

Megalo Fragma
The wetlands area around Fragma are an important habitat for many species of birds and amphibians.
Mounte Monastery
The sign for Evaggelismos “Mounte” Monastery, located above Megalo Fragma.
Mounte Monastery
The monastery was first built here in 1460 A.D., after the Virgin Mary appeared to a local resident in a dream, disclosing this exact location as the site for unearthing an exquisite icon of the Immaculate Conception. This icon remains on display at the monastery today.
Mountes Monastery
At a later date, the original monastery was widened and two additional chapels constructed, resulting in a three-domed basilica.

Three-domed basilica

Mounte Monastery
Mounte Monastery was originally founded as a “nunnery” for monastic sisters, and remained such until 2013.
Mounte Monastery
The monastery houses many murals and icons, including some creations by the famous painter Zosima.

Unfortunately, due to our off-season visit, not a single building was open.

Mountes Monastery
During the years of the Greek Civil War, at the end of the 1940s, the monastery served as a sanatorium for 120 political refugees suffering from tuberculosis, some of whom are still buried here in the courtyard.

Mounte Courtyard

Mounte Monastery
The origin of the monastery’s name is contested. One theory states that a family from Chios, who financed the renovation of the monastery in 1893, gave their name to it. Another theory states that “Mounte” came from the Italian word for mountain,”Il monte,” and was given during the Italian occupation of the 1940s due to the monastery’s location amongst the mountains.

Mounte Monastery

There is one monk who tends to the monastery today. He gives tours and holds occasional services.

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