Monday, 9 July 2012

Failed Plans ...

This weekend was one where many things were planned, but nothing actually went to plan. We were supposed to go wake boarding on Sunday, Mother Nature in the true fashion of a woman scorned and sent us wind … lots of wind … wind which was gusting Gale force 8. Even though it was a northerly wind and we were on the south coast where, technically behind an 1800m high mountain, it should have been calm - it was not! The wind chop on the sea was too much to make wake boarding a pleasurable experience. So, rather disappointedly we postponed the wake boarding for another calmer day. 
As we were on the south coast we decided that we may as well make the most of it. My husband had seen what he thought would be a good snorkeling spot from the road, he wanted to check it out. This of course involved more ‘Billy Goating’ … this time however, I was prepared with the right shoes and a bag that was made to go on your back!
We scaled our way quite precariously down the side of the mountain, at one point there was a sheer 30 metre drop on one side, the descent was not that easy as the ground below which you were trying to walk on had a tendency to give way underneath you. Despite this we were actually following a path, it wasn’t until we got to the bottom that I realized it was probably more of a goat path than a human path, but we had reached the bottom then.

There are a few things I have learnt over time, which I will tell you now. In the hope that one day when you decided to come to Crete, or anywhere else for that matter, which is off the beaten track, looks really cool and inviting but has no obvious access point you will be able to decide whether it's really worth it. These simple rules will keep you out of trouble so follow them.  
1. You can always get down. Down is the easy part. The hard part and the bit you have to be careful about is how you’re going to get back up.
Have a look first before you descend.  Nine times out of ten you will be descending in a place that not many people have been to and chances are that you will not have told anyone where you're going. So be careful, have a look at what you think is a route, then check out the soil type, will it give way underneath you, is there a cliff face close by, are there any trees or bushes to help you? If you think you can make it down work out how you’re going to get back up. Can you come back up the same route you went down?
2. Getting in the water is never a problem, you can always jump off a rock or something along those lines, but can you get out? Out is the BIG issue, before you even consider getting your gear on make sure you know where you’re coming out. If it took you a long time to find your "out spot", then mark it! There is nothing worse or more dangerous then being tired and trying to climb out of the water.
Rocks are generally quite sharp, especially here on Crete, they offer no mercy and if you're not careful they have the tendency to cut your water soaked skin, rocks are also home to stone fish, sea urchins and other creatures which you are advised against stepping on! If you manage to find a place where you think you can get out and you feel comfortable about it then you’re good to go for it!
3. Three is the golden rule. NEVER do any of this ALONE.
If you can keep to these simple ‘goating’ rules then at least you're safer than you could be! My husband and I have been caught out in the past, we have seen what we thought were tracks at the bottom of dunes and taken cars down onto the beach, only to discover things have changed. Sand dunes especially have the tendency to move a lot and what you thought would be easy in the evening turns into a nightmare in the morning. Consequently we are always checking our route out before we go in, take the chance to learn from our mistakes!

Our snorkel was good. As per usual, it was lacking on the big fish, but I am beginning to notice a pattern here and have stopped looking for them. Instead I have become more interested in the underwater rock formations. I have huge respect for the sea, as beautiful a place it is it can easily change its mind. The sea has been carving the rock formations under water for many many years, producing Gaudi like sculptures under water.

We followed the drop offs for a while and then came back to our entry point. For the last week I have had a photo in my head. I want to capture the movement of long hair under water as a person turned circles, for some reason I thought that this would be cool. There was one problem… I needed a model with long hair, my husband unfortunately does not have long hair. Which meant for the first time in a long time I would have to trade places with him. He became the photographer and I the model… This is a very rare event … eventually after an awful lot of rolling around and a fair amount of water up my nose, I got the shot I wanted.

We joined some friends on another beach, in fact it was the same one we had been to the week before. He was heading out spear fishing … quite what he had planned to shoot I had no idea but it made him happy so off he went. We relaxed on the beach with our friend’s wife and her mother. They spoke next to no English and so our Greek was put to the test … I was pleasantly surprised by how much I understood and by the fact that between the four of us we managed to hold a conversation, which actually made sense!

The beach was protected from the wind and has quite a few caves offering respite from the strong sun rays. It also has a few cliffs which can be climbed over water deep enough to jump. 

The Google map below shows where it is (between Kalo Nero and Goudaras on the south coast past Makri Gialos), you can park your car on the side of the road at the top and then its up to you how you get down, there are a few tracks to follow. Take plenty of water with you and if you the type to get peckish a snack or two ... its along way up!!

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