One of my lasting memories of our 2017 Kefalonian holiday experience is the deliberate torching of the hillsides around Lourdas. Sammy (the resident DJ and general dog's body) had posted some images on Facebook, prior to us leaving, depicting huge areas of scrub and Olive groves ablaze on the lower slopes of Mt. Ainos. To witness these mindless acts, being conducted under the cover of darkness, was all rather sad. What are the perpetrators hoping to achieve?
|The hillside above Lourdas, well ablaze, as viewed from the mount of St. George's Castle.|
Absolutely no way that a fire engine is going up there!
One direct consequence of this stupidity was the closure of the road up to the National Park area, of which Mt. Ainos is central; thus a major tourist attraction. The fires were allowed to burn, uncontrolled, during the hours of darkness and we watched new fires started by persons unknown, as their flame sticks were carried around the lower slopes.
|The best that the Greek authorities were able to summons|
|The morning after the night before - flames on the hillside above Lourdas|
|Fire fighting with a Greek twist|
Fire Engines and planes were able to tackle the blazes during the hours of daylight, but it was very much a case of too little, too late! The local police made token appearances, but the culprits had already moved on to other areas. These were not the actions of isolated individuals, seeking building permission for farmland. Oh no, this was a coordinated demonstration of contempt. Fires were started simultaneously on Kefalonia, Zante and mainland Greece - no chance of coincidence when it happened repeatedly.
I have to make it very clear that at no time did I ever feel threatened by these actions, although access to the peak of Mt. Ainos was prohibited for much of our stay (I did get up there and that's for another post!) I just feel rather sorry for the ordinary folk of Kefalonia. All those honest, and hard working, people whose livelihoods depend upon tourism. Dead tortoises and charred hillsides do nothing to assist the efforts of those who depend upon the visitor's money to earn a living.