Friday, 20 July 2012

Clean fuel, limpid air

After the last post's violent expulsion of four week's worth of foul matter, I offer you melt-your-heart late evening light on the old stone town of photographed by Alex from Enki's cockpit.

I know it's all been a bit woe-is-me of late, and that those of you who are reading the blog and not doing it tough on a yacht in the Mediterranean may have had a sneaking thought along the lines of "come on, guys - lighten up". Well, it's coming. We've been humbled, and our confidence has been knocked about. But we're still on for the good times. Promise.

We filled our clean, empty tanks at a fuel dock a couple of miles north of Messina and gave the engine a long run down to Syracuse - about 12 hours of motor sailing (not everyone's idea of a good day on the water, but in the circumstances, perfect for us). We're anchored in Syracuse Grand Harbour and, for the first time in many weeks, we're amongst a majority of non-Italian boats.  I imagine they are mostly on their way to or from Greece. A little yacht, no more than 26 feet, with a French flag was gone by early this morning. A Greek super yacht (perhaps five times that size) arrived late last night.

In the ancient Greek world, Syracuse was a seriously powerful city - Archimedes, he of the bathwater (i.e. displacement) theory, lived here. Earthquakes and the plague destroyed many of the classical buildings, and Siracusa (as the Sicilians call it) was rebuilt in the 18th century. Its piazzas and public buildings as well as its dilapidated private houses and narrow streets are beautifully proportioned. The old part of the town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which means it probably lives on tourism. If so, it's a quiet year.

Alex and I sat in the grand baroque cathedral, the one you see on the skyline of the town, which is built on the foundations and around surviving columns of a temple to Athena, and marvelled at the wealth of religious institutions, ancient and modern, which commissioned the artistry within them both, the Greek temple and the baroque Italian cathedral.

Did the Greeks still believe in their gods as their civilisation entered its end times? Or were their temples empty shells by that time, as these glorious churches are in ours? We believe in science and technology. They are our faith, and we worship every day at our computers and on our mobile phones. As for eternal life, have we stopped wanting it?

We're planning (again) to leave for Greece in the morning.

1 comment:

  1. living the dream - with good light for photography, to boot...