Having found a blog with directions, I set out around midday with cheese and halva, oranges and tomatoes and paximadia in my backpack. I followed the path over an iron ladder straddling a fence. From there, it was pretty much a question of following a shingle gulley with a steep gradient up the mountain.
When a truck drove past I realised I’d seen no-one else the whole afternoon on the mountain. Another truck drew up as I was leaving the pine forest and an old farmer offered me a lift; I was completely exhausted but it was only another five or so kilometres back to Embona, and a lovely evening, so I chose to continue walking, making a final stop at the little chapel of Ayios Georgios Sarantari and feeling very happy about my adventure.
I passed a very old woman doing her washing by hand in a sink in her front yard around 7am. I wandered around the village looking for a place with internet, and ended up at Anamnisis café, which looked fancy from outside but was nicely full of middle-aged men loudly discussing the price they get for their wine.
It was funny to be back in Embona seeing people I recognised from my visit a few years before, people I’d written about. I wished I had a copy of An Octopus in my Ouzo to show them. The next morning at the café, the owner – a big man wearing the biggest T-shirt I’d ever seen – asked about my work, and we discussed his interest in collecting books about beekeeping and honey in different regions. Here in Embona, I think he said, each bee can produce 25 kilos of honey per season.
I stopped at St Raphael and Nicholas church, whose unpromising exterior gave away nothing of the beautiful icon paintings within. Then, having reached a dead end at a fence, I cut through an overgrown area and – whoops – twisted my ankle a little. It didn’t seem serious but it did swell a little and there was a jarring pain when I put weight on it in a certain way. A sign to take it easy. I made my way carefully down to the road.
They’d collected honeycomb and gave me pieces to eat. Stavros showed me and his daughter the eggs; the queen can lay 2,500 a day in spring when there’s a lot of food, he said. We tasted the pale honey, made from a variety of spring flowers, and the powdery orange yiri. I asked about the darker pine honey and learned that the white foamy substance I’d been seeing on the bark of pine trees is a kind of bacterium, and the droplets hanging from it a type of honey. I’d learned so much today. I bought a kilo of mixed pine and thyme honey, strong and fragrant, which Stavros gave me for a very good price, instructing his daughter to pack a box of honeycomb for me as a gift.
The sun was coming up through cloud over Embona as I made my way north by bus along the coast. By midday, I'd be in Lindos and had another adventure to come.
Attaviros Hotel, Embona, Rhodes: 0030 22460 41235, 0030 694 262 9556
Proprietress: Vassilia Antonaki
Maroullakis Traditional Taverna, Embona, Rhodes: 0030 22460 41215, 0030 694 820 1220