Last week for me was about Monolithos – the tiny mountain village on the South-West of Rhodes island. On Wednesday I was collecting mushrooms there in the forest with Manolis and Despoina – the owners of Old Monolithos Taverna. Perfect time to enjoy the silence of the beautiful calm nature and also to have an amazing meal of wild mushrooms with a mushroom expert. 😉
After that trip I didn’t have to wait for so long to return to the lovely village, as I heard that a seminar would be held on that weekend by Γιάννης Ελενίτσας (Giannis Elenitsas) agronomist – botanist about the theory and the practice of making 100% natural beeswax cream with oil extract from local herbs. I had no doubts about going there as I am really into herbs, nature and any knowledge about the island and its natural treasures. To top this the seminar was free of charge located in Thomas Hotel with amazing panoramic view of the sea and nature.
On Saturday fortunatelly I had the chance to join in the car from town to Monolithos with Γιώργος Θυρής (Giorgos Thyris) the owner of Thomas Hotel, who is really passionate about his job and his visions. For me it was an exceptional possibility to meet a person who is working really hard on building values, who respects and tries to preserve the beauty and the advantages of his island and his village, and at the same time he is very positive about the future of the local tourism of Rhodes. He told me about the various programs, workshops, activities that he offers his guests all year around. Exceptional attitude for life and for profession that gave me inspiration for my projects too. 😉
We arrived to Monolithos village after a thunderstorm that created a beautiful fragrance in the air, and a colorful sunset.
Giannis started the theoretical part of the seminar at 19:00 in the evening on Saturday and it took place in the salon of the hotel, where we were sitting next to the fireplace. As it was in Greek language I hardly understood some words, but I made my voice records to study them later on. Actually this is how I research – whatever possibility comes, I am there. 🙂
And it wasn’t only a good chance to listen to some Greek speach, but also I met wonderful people who were there for different reasons of course, but the common thing was the love of nature and Monolithos. 🙂 We closed that night with a dinner together in the Old Monolithos Taverna with Greek songs of course and fresh, local, tasty food.
Next morning waking up in the hotel with a view like this and sunbathing in my own room was epic.
After a rich breakfast in the hotel the group started its walk in the nature around the area to discover the flora of the location. Although I did not understand 100% sure the Greek presentation of Giannis again, I made a few photos and I can tell you what we found mostly during the walk…
Local name: (α)σχίνος – (α)σκίνος / (a)shinos – (a)skinos
Scientific name: Pistacia Lentiscus
I found that Greek ancient writers called this plant ‘shinos’, as it still is called in Greece, but on Rhodes island everybody calls it ashinos or askinos with an extra ‘a’, so it was not easy to googlesearch it… 🙂 This is a kind of shrub with small red berries that you can find almost everywhere on the island. The first time I met closer with this ‘askinos’ was a year ago when I saw the locals baking ‘village bread’ (Χωριάτικο ψωμί /Horiatiko psomi) in Kalithies village in the φούρνος (fournos = outside oven). We were collecting a lot of brunches of askinos and then we put half of them on to the fire, and half of them on the top of the breads to give them a nice aroma.
On this walk Konstantina from Archangelos said that in her village people used to make a kind of small bread also with the red berries of this plant.
Local name: έρικα / erika
Scientific name: Erica spiculifolia
Erika, or Mediterranean Heather is not only a beautiful wild plant, but also a very precious one. A plant which is one of the most important nutritions for the bees during the winter months. As the locals say: the best honey is the honey from erika.
Local name: Φασκόμηλο – αλισφακιά – ελελίσφακος / faskomilo – alisfakia – elelisfakos
Scientific name: Salvia Fruticosa
It is called also Greek oregano, and Greek sage. What should I tell you about this amazing herb? This is my favourite, and as it grows all around the island for me the smell of faskomilo is the smell of Rhodes too. “It has a long tradition of use in Greece, where it is valued for its beauty, medicinal value, and culinary use, along with its sweet nectar and pollen.” /wikipedia/
Local name: κουμαριά / koumaria
Scientific name: Arbutus Unedo
The koumaria is a very interesting plant, because it has its flowers and fruits (called: koumara) at the same time. Arbutus means: rigorous forest and unedo means: I eat only one! And yes, the local guys warned me not to eat so much of the fruit because otherwise I had to run back to the toilet of the hotel which was very far… But anyway it has a berry which is really delicious and healthy – like all the wild red berries in general. They used to make marmalade and liqeur from the fruit – koumara.
“The village records almost 28,000 trees (roots) and its Mill annually produces of one of the best qualities of oil worldwide. The specific type of olive cultivated in the village is called “koroneiki” and the secret that this oil retains its high quality is due to the fact that the fruit becomes oil as soon as it’s gathered, therefore the oil attains zero acidity. For this reason the Monolithos Mill operates 24 hours a day, in an effort to produce the entire village’s oil as soon as possible.” /source: http://www.thomashotel.gr/
We were leaded by Giorgos through a path, where we could see the oldest olive trees of the area and also of Rhodes.
Some wild mushrooms:
And also we went up to the old windmill:
After this roughly 2 hour long walk Giannis started the presentation of the practice of making 100% natural beeswax cream with oil extract from alesfakia. Even it was a shortened version of the long realtime process we could smell and try the final ‘product’ and learn carefully the method.
Thomas – the youngest photographer of the group – but I think the loudest… 🙂
And I brought home a little bit of Monolithos as a memory from this weekend and also as the first plant of my new life here on Rhodes:
All the photos I’ve taken on this weekend are available HERE