Tomorrow 10th August sees a special event in Treis Elies. For those of you who are not familiar with Treis Elies it is where it all started for ‘Androula’s Kitchen” indeed it started in Androula’s kitchen if that’s not too confusing! Androula Christou is a cousin of mine, she lives in To Spitiko tou Archonta; translated it means “the house of the gentleman”; now run as a guest house it sits on the higher levels of this small remote village in the Troodos mountains. I first visited in late 2009 and it was this visit that inspired me to write the book. Androula had lived most of her life in the city but after a series of synchronicities led her to Treis Elies she immediately felt this was where she wanted to be, she craved the cooler air as the heat had always disagreed with her. After the renovations had been completed she was thrilled to finally be living there.
The original part of the house where Androula lives has a timeless feeling of authenticity, eclectically furnished with both contemporary and antique it exudes a feeling of solidity and calm. One of the previous tenants had been a healer and it is interesting that Androula too has these qualities; she gathers herbs to make various teas to suit how she feels and uses essential oils to combat ailments. In a 21st century world she continues to live in many ways as villagers have always lived. All the villagers own a plot of land on the edge of the village which is used to grow vegetables and fruit which is abundant in this area, yielding walnuts, cherries, strawberries and oranges to name a few. Androula is a one woman band so she spreads herself thin on many occasions when too many things demand her attention.
The Guest house over the years has attracted a varied and interesting selection of guests from all over the world, indeed when I stayed there last, a Japanese couple had booked for a couple of nights. In 2007 one of Androula’s early guests was an American author and photographer Ethan Hubbard, he was quite unusual in as much as he stayed for several months at a time as he was studying the inhabitants of Treis Elies for a book. Ethan had already spent thirty years travelling to more than 40 countries to study indigenous peoples in remote communities, when he finally landed in Treis Elies. How he chose this destination I’m uncertain but the resulting book is the reason for the special event taking place tomorrow. Ethan Hubbard studied how the villagers spent their time and lived, taking photographs and writing in lyrical prose descriptions of the minutiae of daily village life. The resulting book is beautiful with evocative black and white photos and a joy to those who view it, it has been translated into Greek for this first edition. A special presentation of the book is to be held at 7.15pm at the school at Treis Elies after which there will be a theatrical performance and all are invited to share in this unique occasion. I wish I could be there but alas I’m unable
On reflection, there must be something quite special about this slowly dwindling village to have inspired two people to write books about it, maybe it is the fact that it is so tucked away and in the midst of such lush surroundings. Many of these villages flourished when the islanders fled the coast and the marauding Turks in the Middle ages, you could survive undetected by casual traveller up in the windy looming mountains of Troodos.
Ethan Hubbard’s book is called A journey in Spring.