Colors of Santorini

Kalispera, good evening,

Tonight is my last night on Santorini. It’s the first night without thunder. The weather has been bad so I’ve not been able to take the boat tour to offshore islands, swim through thermal springs, or sun at its renowned beaches, all things one dreams of doing here. But the peace, the spectacular view, and the end-of-season rates compel me to stay an additional day. So, yes, you could say it calls to me.

This is interesting because the two most frightening events on this trip have occurred here, a chest-splitting storm and an ‘elemu-clenching bus ride.

Imagine the drive to Sandy Beach, sections are like Hāmākua Coast, only you’re in a bus going 6oMPH driven by a swarthy single-syllable grunter, and road is half as wide, and the cliffs are 4 times as steep, and there’re no guardrails. That was the bus ride from Fira/Thira/Thera (pronounced both ways, spelled all three ways in Latin, but Greek spelling has ‘theta’, ‘θ’ as its first symbol) to Oia (EE-ah, no glottal stop).

The main volcano erupted about 1630 BC in what is called in all accounts a cataclysmic event causing its collapse and a huge tsunami leaving an archipelago of islands surrounding a big lagoon where a crater once stood. As you might imagine, the water is quite mālie, or calm. The bays tucked in against a couple different places of this main island Santorini are like Kamohio, but gi-normous.

Actually, the name Santorini is Roman in origin. At somepoint they renamed this island of Fira/Thira in honor of Saint Irene.

Although it’s a volcanic island, it isn’t as fertile as those of us from volcanic islands might imagine. It’s less like Kona Coast and more like Kaena Point or between Hālona Blowhole and Koko Crater Rim. There is no grass, even in people’s yards, and mostly cacti and succulents like ‘akulikuli, and beach heliotrope, but less green.

I wondered about the water source. I haven’t seen any catchment tanks. Is there cap rock, a water table? I still don’t know, but today, I passed a de-salinization plant on the way to Oia.

So is the volcano extinct? Dormant? Nope. It last erupted in 1950.

Okay, leaving Santorini in the afternoon.

Kim Ku’ulei Birnie (c)