Greece and Turkey 2012


CHIOS       10-4-12

It's all about chewing gum.

We went today to visit two medieval villages whose economy was dependent on mastic gum trees. These trees are small, grow very slowly, and Chioslive about 100 years. The gum is harvested twice a year. The process is that small incisions are made in the tree trunk and branches. At the same time, a white powder is put around the base of the tree so that the sap, which looks a bit like pine resin, will drop down when enough has collected. This keeps the sap from falling on dirt and therefore makes it easier to clean. The little sap balls are laboriously cleaned and sorted by women who look to be in their 80's (and they are not wearing glasses). The little drops of gum are then used for everything from chewing gum to cosmetics and other pharmaceuticals.

chiosThe first village we visited was the medival fortress of Pirgi. The buildings are covered with grey and white geometric designs produced by scraping the whitewash away and revealing the grey stucco beneath. While the majority of the designs are totally geometric, some homes also had scroll designs or floral shapes.

ChiosThe second village was called Mesta. Like so many others we've seen, it was a fortress town with flat roofs and narrow winding streets. The flat roofs allowed the villagers to escape by running from roof to roof or to defend the streets from above, undoubtedly by dropping heavy objects or hot liquid on the unwelcome visitors.

Unlike many previous days, CC decided not to go back into town after lunch. We spent a relaxing afternoon just reading and dozing before our visit tomorrow to the site of the Trojan War.

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