I love myths. It’s a very affectionate interpretation of history and nature. Myths make the journey of life magical … especially in Greece, a country that lived in a traditionally vivid mythology since ancient times.
I did not encounter the famous Greek mythology in this episode, but I did find other equally fascinating things, in this journey to Florina mountanous area …
And I discovered them by practicing trekking (and not by being stuck in a library like a trapped mouse …).
We started from the village Sklithro with my friend photographer Chris Drazos and the local guide Takis Voglidis to traverse the so called “the fishermen’s path”.
“Where are we?” you may ask. We are in western Macedonia, near the traditional and famous village of Nymphaio, and we walk towards a small, highly photogenic and delicately beautiful lake called Zazari.
The sunshine of this year’s January was spectacular. The unusual heat lasted for weeks. We crossed landscapes with oaks, wild pear trees, wild apple trees, poplars and willows. Vitsi mountain to the north rose steeply. We passed the hill of Agrapidia which is full of melissohorto herbs and oregano.
“Look here is katsitska …” says Takis showing us the wild crocus, named in the local language. “This year with this kind of heat it flourished 2 months earlier …”.
We cross through thick stands of oak trees and we come out to the “saddle” (passage) with a beautiful lake view. Here, we stop to rest.
The magnificent landscape spreads out before us: the tiled roofs of the Limnochori village mirrored on the still waters of the little fragile Zazari lake. All around us there was scarce grass and oaks. We sat down to enjoy the view into the sunshine. Takis pulled from the bag a bottle of raki, whole-wheat bread and local cheese. Soon he was telling us the stories and the myths of the lake.
How was Zazari created?
“They say here, in one of the neighboring villages, was once a bride. She was a good woman. But she did not get-on well with her mother-in law. They were always arguing. One evening then, when the sons of the old woman were missing the bride opened all the taps in the house. The water was running constantly. It filled the house and soon enough the mother- in law drowned. But the water did not stop running… and from the flooding of that house lake Zazari was created… “.
Takis shows us around a formation of large dark grayish-green granite rocks, carved through the centuries by nature’s elements, like badly shaped donuts. Other myths exist here as well … Locals say about these extraordinary rocks that they are remnants of King Alexander the Great. “This is his glass, here’s his footprint, here are his boots, and there is his cauldron…” said Takis.
You need quite a strong imagination to see these rocks as traces of a giant king. But what would the trip be without a strong dose of imagination?
“Others say that those belonged to King Alexander and others say they are the traces of King Mark Krali” says Takis.
What reminds me of the name? Rather a Serbian ruler Krali or even the legendary Stefan Dusan. Traditionally in Greece, myths and history were a badly tangled skein…
Below us the lake was getting a deep purple color. In the center of the lake a fishing boat was chasing the few carps and pikes …
The Zazari lake with an area of just 2 square kilometers hides its small troubles behind an entirely idyllic scenery.
The main problem is the lowering of the lake’s water level from May to August. During that period the local farmers get water for their irrigations and unfortunately the level goes down seriously. The eggs of the fish that were left by the reeds suddenly are left out of water and consequently destroyed.
The winter with the rains the water level rises up again. Fatally so, trapped in this lethal cycle fish dwindle and disappear …
And the path from where fishermen once carried the famous untill today Zazari lake’s fishes – famous carps and pikes – to Sklithro and Nymfaio villages, today is used only by nature lovers and hip hikers.
Poor Zazari … It looks like you were cursed by the bad mother-in law from the fairy tale?
Where am I?
Sklithro village and the lake Zazari are located in western Macedonia, in the prefecture of Florina. The quickest way to get there is through the Via Egnatia highway, following the route to Kozani and Ptolemais.
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