Of snow and rainbows, moss and poo….

This Saturday I fly back to the U.S. (weather permitting), so this will most likely be my last post from Greece and it will be a bit of a hodge-podge. Life in Papingo doesn’t lend itself to that same kind of narrative that my previous posts had–things here are slower and quieter, but interesting nonetheless. For instance, the variety of moss in the stone walls and roofs is ASTOUNDING!!

Finally, FINALLY, today, we are blessed with warm sun and blue skies, after WEEKS of endless rain, rain, rain, which kept me inside for days at a time. It has also gotten cold here, so my chillblains are back (woe is me!), but fortunately the only snow has been on the top of the mountains. It creates a beautiful backdrop and the endless rain did allow for some beautiful rainbows–including my first full rainbow, ever! Another rain plus: With all my time inside I learned some new tricks on Photoshop! Rain con: I also watched 2 full seasons of “Friends” (the few cds available in my bedroom).

Impending doom...looks like more Ross and Rachel!!

One of the more interesting events in the hotel/restaurant where I’m staying is the all-too-frequent production of tsipouro, a deadly clear liquor made from grape mash. This is created in a still in our kitchen by one of the family members, Thenasi. The still runs nonstop for a few days at a time and takes constant tending, so while it’s running you’ll often find Thenasi noodling on an old clarinet, or sitting back with some of the local villagers or guests from the hotel, a glass of tsipouro or homemade wine in hand. He is very generous with his brew, but I’ve learned to just say no…

Filling the still with grape mash...

Fitting the lid of the still. You can just make out the small spigot just above his right boot where the tsipouro dribbles out into a metal bowl, at 70% alcohol...(that's the first draw--subsequent distillings go down to 40%)









Of course most of my days are focused on the horses and I’d like to share what greets me every morning, for those of you unlucky enough never to have mucked out a stable:

Kalimera! (Good morning!)

And this is just a fraction of it. 8 horses produce a LOT of crap. And while one of us is picking up poo from the floor, the other is picking it out of the horses hooves:

A well-cleaned hoof

This isn’t so bad with the front hooves. Unfortunately, picking up a horse’s back hooves often sets off some kind of fart-response, and your head is in the perfect position for a noseful.

Of course, cleaning a horse isn’t the only time they can get back at you for putting a saddle on their back and a bit in their mouth and riding them around and around when they’d really just rather be eating…

On Sissi, the sitting horse

If I look a little tense here, it’s because it was my first time on Sissi, who is known for sitting down to eat, mid-stride, with inexperienced riders on her back. Note: You do not want this to happen. Fortunately for me I am just experienced enough to prevent this, and I’ve ridden her many times now without incident, but you never know….

But the trail rides are really a huge perk of this volunteer project–they are the perfect way to wander through the hills for gorgeous views of the mountains:



Heading out on a long ride--I'm riding Dionis (see ears at bottom of photo)

On a lovely day...










And when it’s nice enough, and there are no rides, there are plenty of walks to take, including visiting the next town over, Mikro Papingo. The road there is long and winding and goes past a beautifully clear stream, which runs through small pools. In the summer these must be deliciously cool after a hike in the sun, but now they are just freezing. On the way back we took a stone path down a small valley between a curve of the road to a beautiful little stone bridge that spans another small stream.

Road between the Papingos

Stone bridge








One of the crystal-clear pools

Of course each day brings something new–life with animals is never uneventful–but I’ll end the post with some photos of the town and breathtaking scenery:

Antique table-saw

At a local church









Mountain shrine

Icons and offerings within the shrine

Collecting the horses in the late afternoon


Wild and rocky hills

So, yassas to Papingo, and Greece, and, sniff, Europe, and on to continuing adventures in the U.S., which include some time in Philadelphia, Virginia and DC, and then an artist’s residency at ART342 in Fort Collins, CO, from January  17 – April 22. I’m very excited and lucky to be given more time to make art in a new environment and with new people!



About Stephanie Beck

Exploring the international world of art.
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