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THE DESERTED VILLAGE KALAMI
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Satelite image from Google Maps,
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First house in Kalami, below is the village.
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On southeast Crete, up in the mountain is a small village who’s only living creatures appears to be some semi wild dogs, at least regarding to their sounds of barking. The houses in the village are new, it is no antique Greek touristified buildings, it is small cubic boxes. Window frames are made of aluminium and there are tv-antennas on the roofs. of
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roofs. Inside you will find radios, cassette players. Some kitchens are equipped with dishwasher and washing machines, here it was an ordinary Greek life. What’s surprising is that the village seems to be hurriedly abandoned.
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All houses seemed to have a staircase to the roof
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A VILLAGE ARISES
On Crete, in the old, not very good times, less exactly many hundred years ago the Greeks build their coast cities as labyrinths to make invasions harder for intruders and pirates. Then as well as now, it is the Turks that are the evil part. The mismatch between Turks and Greeks has been rooted since
biblical times.
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biblical times. When labyrinths weren’t enough as protection, Villages up in the mountains was erected, where the Turks couldn’t reach them. The ordinary daily works, fishing and trading was still at place at the coast but could be abandoned if life and health was at stake.
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Stairs up, to admire the view.
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In the approximate middle of the picture you find solar panels and some textiles drying in the sun. There is life in Kalami.

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The coastal guards act, rings in the warning bells and shouts out that pirates are on their way. It is time to escape up in the mountains. To secure a safe escapeway from attackers and to bee one step ahead, if the attackers follow you, the road is prepared. The enemies will meet falling stones and logs and if you were well prepared you have built some devilry along the road if some intruder intend to follow you. When the evils robbed what they wanted in the lower village you could go back and continue your trading and fishing. When the evils robbed what they wanted in the lower village you could go back and continue your trading and fishing.
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Myrtos is the name of a minor village on south coast of Crete and from there is a small road up to the mountains where someone once built a small village, the name of the village is Kalami. If it was built by inhabitants from Myrtos is out of my knowledge, might be another village, but at least the road connections make it probable, or Kalami is built by another coast village?
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The streets, or rather the alleys, are often covered like tunnels. It protects against the sun in some places. The roof terraces between the houses are combined and one gets the impression that the neighbors were close together when the roofs lacked the fence between the terraces.
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On a twisting roads 400 meters up in the mountains, more than ten kilometres to go, the people from Myrtos, with a lot of effort created the new village, safe from pirates, no matter where they were coming from. The daily business was still at the coast when the intruders did leave, and you where able to come back after the occupation.

But when a whole coast village do have an extra village to flee to and the communications are hard and troublesome, new business will undoubtedly appear on the new place up in the mountains. Bakery, trading, shoemakers, priest, farmers and further on, public administration. Almost everything else needed for a working village was soon doubled. Everybody did not need to safety commute regularly, so soon there was two societies consisting of siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles.

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The village workshop. Cars did not fit on the alleys, but scooters, mopeds and bicycles for sure needed maintenance, even in Kalami. Where you also could get oil filling.
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The old, not very good times later on became better times, pirates where gone and the coast plunderage ceased. The both villages lives on, develops and modernizes. Old houses were demolished, new where built, more kids need in adult ages somewhere to live. Most of the time life at the coast is to prefer and particularly less isolated, especially if you live on an island.
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Regard to the population in the village, church visits must be high. The church is the village's only renovated house. It looks pretty poppy.
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The village is located on a hillside which was used. The alleys use the stairs of the houses to move on to the next floor and continue, often in a different direction than the floor level above or below.
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No problem jumping from one roof terrace to another
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Cassette tape recorder if anyone remembers these? They were used almost to the end of the 1980s before the CD disc killed the analogue, if someone remembers the CD?
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On a chair, a new or freshly stretched shirt waited for the high fair or schools last day
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In the kitchen some pills, with contents left in the box. What medicine was good for, or good against? Do not know. What was on the label was pure Greek for me
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and in the closet hung the jacket, waiting for the party. Above, the photo on the kids.
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TWO VILLAGES LIVES ON, BUT
Now a move a bit forward in time. The post war generation got another view on the world, even on Crete. If you don’t have a TV at your home, there are enough TVs in the village to make an impact on new generation of young TV viewer and their perspective on most of the things. In modern times with the start after WW2 the population in the higher village begins to move back down to the coast, building new houses, getting jobs in the coast village. At this specific case, one new
attractive business are
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attractive business area is strongly growing, the tourism. First the Greeks from the mainland and the larger cities comes, later on airports are built and the charter package tourists makes the Greek archipelago to live up during the summer season.
The coast villages and coast cities became more and more attractive for the younger generation, here is money to earn.
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Hard to know what is basement or what is floor.
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This slightly older castle-like building style has been modernized, when more floors were needed.
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THE STOP OF THE RETURNEE
The year is 1967, the month is April and the Greek military makes a takeover from the democratic government in Greece. For seven years Greece will be a military dictatorship. Greece will be boycott as a tourist destination and it is less attractive being a tourist on a place where you find uniformed soldiers in every street corner. In such situation a distant mountain village is more attractive for the inhabitants than a brisk city at the coast with a lot of uniformed soldier, who in a typical
dictatorship way are paranoid and frequently asks for passports and “your papers”.
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passports and “your papers”. The control of citizens where more intense at the coast where people can move or are able to take ferries to abroad.
The freedom or at least the experienced freedom was for sure greater up in the mountain compare to the coast. The returnee downwards was stopped, the self-supply increased, and if you in any case was in trouble with the militaries it was better to be 400 meters up in the mountains than down at the coast.

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You can jump between the houses, or climb, if you trust that it is strong enough.

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THE FINAL EXODUS
1974 after seven years of dictatorship Greece became a chaotic but working democracy again. The tourism speeds up, the northern European charter airlines fill up the hotels and beaches. Now there is a lot of Nordic Crowns, German Marks, French Franc and British Pounds to pour in. Much more compare to grow grapes and olives up in the mountains. In the same way as the northern European urbanization took shape, inhabitants where attracted to move to the cities for a better life at he coast.

Attractiveness is not only foreign investors and banks that invest in new hotels, another very important power in this process is the Greek membership in the European Community
EC 1981, fourteen year before Sweden.
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EC 1981, fourteen year before Sweden. Now the gate is wide open for tourist income, -at the coast.

The younger moves the older stays, the public service decrease and when the priest left his life on earth and the village. The only one left are the only one who are not able to move away.

Sources from Internet, which means not total reliable, says that two families have moved to Kalami again and with them some loudly barking dogs. The priest in the village is due to my own observation the itinerant type who is pastor for more than one church.

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here I got a scolding by a village resident
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RETSINA ARMANTI the label tells, the bottle was unopened. And an exercise book in English
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This is the village center for the house further to the left with blue gate must be the…
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SEPTEMBER 2018
My visit in Kalami starts with an escape from the beach in Myrtos. The Korean rented car was plagued up on winding roads 400 meters up from sea level. To escape here with donkeys and own traction must have been a daylong trip in the old days. Donkeys does not have a button with the letters AC and gives maximum two horsepower, an ordinary horse gives approximately 4,5 horsepower and a lot of these 4,5 hp
are consumed to move the horse
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are consumed to move the horse itself neither horses got an AC button. The first thing I see after parking in the outside of Kalami is a for sure living priest or what a Greek orthodox god’s deputy is called. He greeted and then went on to his car and disappeared. The only sign of life I saw, a God’s deputy drove away from the village, as the introduction to a scary horror movie or a Monty Python film.
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Town Hall! or the administration, here are both election booths, a gavel, various stamps (Greek) and binders with incomprehensible papers. The village's public administration.
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I felt a bit intrusive when I went into something that was the main street through the village. This was Kostas and Aristoteles block. The doors to the house was open, the vegetation had taken over, some houses were more freshly painted other houses not at all. The most decayed houses lacked windows and at some places the roofs have collapsed.
The silence was apparent, every step felt like I intrude to those who no longer lived there. One more step and the
silence is broken, I don’t se them but to dogs barks, sounds like big ones,
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silence is broken, I don’t se them but to dogs barks, sounds like big ones, nothing I want to meet here alone. I sincerely hope it wasn’t wild dogs, such dogs may be uncomfortable to get acquainted with, they would like to taste everything that moves. Some steps ahead and I saw the beasts, not that large, not so scary, actually small pretty but in this total silence these midsize pets sound like beasts.
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Outdoor basin for hands and shaving,
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2002 21e! Februari?

I went on and after 25 meters the dogs fed up barking. Now I have seen three living creatures, one priest and two dogs not sympathetic towards me. Hundred meters later the street ends and so does the village. On my way back, I turn left on the next little street. All houses are of the same kind, small boxes, external stairs to the roofs and overgrown gardens. The views from here is magnificent, towards north is high mountains and southwards the mountain falling down and far away the Mediterranean Sea.
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All over, vines grow at the cracked facades, to late for me, most grapes have been transformed into raisins. At one rooftop the previous owner of the house has built a staging, totally covered by fresh grapes, red and green. These grapes were in better shape and they taste lovely, on the other hand I became uncomfortably sugar sticky on my fingers. But I was prepared, on my UE expeditions I always carry with me one or more bottles of water.
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Alone in the silence
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The vegetation takes over. The green on the right is a vine, can promise that the grapes tasted wonderful
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Trees and roots destroy and act as masonry. But it certainly works in its places as extra reinforcement. The tree in the middle grows through the roof, or maybe the roof is built around the tree?
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A little tricky to move on in places, but the whole environment is tempting curiosity.
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Hard to imagine the need for heating when I was here, but it will be winter and cold, even in Crete.


Further down on the next cross path someone did arrange a ridiculous try to prevent trespassing using a rusty bed base naively fixed on the side with some steel wire. On the other side of the bed base I have to admit there was a reason for the naive try. The house on this path was in an obvious very bad mode. Most roofs where gone, the staircase was no longer healthy to step on. Between some houses the vegetation have expand over the roofs in such dense way that streets below became tunnels. Perhaps this was meant to be like this, beneath it was comfortable and shady.
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The end of an alley looks like this, the stairs going up to a private roof terrace and the next alley continues.
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The village Kalami consist of hundred and fifty houses, most of them unlocked. Entering the unlocked empty houses felt a bit like an intrusion into someone else’s private sphere. In the kitchen the plates have been set to dry, the open wardrobe exposed stretched shirts and jackets. On a chair the never used shirt waiting for the owner and Sunday church visit.
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In another house in another kitchen the medicine jars and pills still waiting on a shelf for the user to take the daily doses. But for some reason it seems as they were abandoned in an urgent hurry. What kind of pills? Clearly declared on the labels, but that was pure Greek to me.
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A barrier of symbolic variety, a bed base..

The scenery repeats, for each house the experience of repetition becomes increasingly evident. Half furnished houses, beds, sofas, kitchen tables, pots and everything else that makes an ordinary life. I could spend many more hours here, but time goes by. So, it has done for a very long time in Kalami. Even though it has stood still here for the past twenty years. The phone tells me I will be late for the
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years. The phone tells me I will be late for the appointed lunch. It is not possible to call from here, phone signals are weak, I do doubt that emergency calls are possible, but what is to expect high up in the mountain in an abandoned village. It is time to return to the holiday and the other reality, who tells me that I am at Crete Tuesday 11 September 2018.
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View towards south west. Close a newly painted white roof, far away you find the red roof of the church.
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