I was lost… Surely, I was lost… I was trying to cross the dense forest of mountain Parnon, at the northwestern slopes of the village Kosmas, in Peloponnesus, but … something was going wrong. The dirt roads did not agree either with my map or with my old GPS. I was circling, and circling. And it was getting dark…
Fortunately the weather was good –It was the end of September – the forest was slightly humid while the night was falling… a dark night was on the way, into a forest with black pine trees… mmm… very spooky!
The motorcycle lighted-up the dirt road and big, enormous shades from the pine trees created numerous evocative settings. My heart was tight, my mouth was getting dry. It was becoming scary… only “Blair Witch” was missing. Finally after taking a downhill way into a ravine, I saw the glimmering lights of a village. “Very good… I will not be left out into the open fields, “I thought…lucky me…
The village is known as Tsintzina, but half of the signs – and the charts too – report it as Polydroso; which is a new name for the village (probably because the old name had something suspicious in its origin, it reminds one of a Slavic past). It is one of the most beautiful villages of Peloponnesus as it is located in a total mountainous setting: where a ravine meets the standing slopes of mountain Parnon, next to an extraordinary forest filled with fir-trees.
The houses are very well preserved, the courtyards are full of flowers, pear trees, mulberries and chestnuts, and the total picture is quite soothing to the eye. In older times – about 60 years ago – Tsintzina was one of the most populous villages and all the residents were lumberjacks and cattle-breeders. They also manufactured wine-barrels, plows and other objects made out of timber from the forest.
Tsintzina has some beautiful old churches (Saint Vlasios and Virgin Mary, the latter was –according to an old tradition- built in only 40 days, from a group of extremely passionate and efficient builders), fountains with ice freezing waters and a spectacular square, which is the courtyard of the old school. It is an ideal spot and here you would have wanted to play with your friends when you were a kid too…
I met him there, at this square, while I was drinking my morning coffee. The villagers, call him the “schoolteacher”. He was, actually a schoolteacher. But never in Tsintzina. His name was Yannis Spyridis. He was a goodlooking fellow with a pure white beard and silk-white hair. He had the shape of Santa Claus. In a particular Peloponnesian version of course…
He was hanging around in the square when he was not walking endless hours on the mountain. What was he doing though up-there? He was planting sequoia trees!!!
Listen to his incredible vision. “In 1947 I found in the carton-boxes of the American Help (which was given to Greece after the end of the 2nd World War) books with photographs from the sequoia park and other marvels of nature there. I wanted to see all of them, so, I went over there after 49 years and my childhood dreams became a reality. I loved sequoia trees very much. I brought seeds in 1997 and I made a tree-nursery in the Goritsa area. Six years ago I started planting these trees into the forest. I plant them following a strategic plan: they will eventually shape a path that will cross the mountain from Tsintzina and will lead to the peak of Prophet Ilias where I will make a park out of sequoia trees. I will name all the trees as the Americans do: I will call them famous names like: “Kolokotronis”, “Captain Gerasimos” and so on…”.
The schoolteacher spoke like a forester. He was reading books on ecological instructions and practices; he knew and admired “the big Foukouaka”. “My dream was to become an agronomist or a forester. I achieved my wish only now that I am an old pensioner”.
And why sequoias? When will they grow? “They look like ancient Doric pillars. Of course, they come of age in 750-800 years. But here we will be. Aren’t we? I believe in reincarnation and I guess I will come back as a squirrel, so I can live on those magnificent trees…”
He laughed through his snow-white beard which was acquiring a golden tint from the sunrays coming through the plane-trees of the village square. He looked like a small, smiling god of mountain Parnon. A druid with practices and a shape like he had escaped from the pages of the most popular comic book in Europe….
I mean “Asterix”!
Where am I?
Tsintzina village is located at the western part of Parnon mountain. The quickest way to reach here is by Sparta town.
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