Taking advantage of a beautiful spring day, we hopped in the car and drove through the mountain range that dominates the west side of the island, to a little village called Loucha. One the highest villages in Zakynthos, Loucha is nestled in a triangular-shaped green valley.
The village was created in the 15th century by Maniots and other refugees from the Peloponnese, who were fleeing the Ottoman occupation. The old village houses, which survived the 1953 earthquake, certainly are a bit different to those found in other villages. Unfortunately, like many mountain villages, it has only a fraction of its former population, as its inhabitants moved from the isolated valley to the main town of the island, where jobs and an easier life could be found.
After parking, we headed towards the town church to get our bearings. The village is located at the apex of the triangle-shaped valley, and the houses cling to its sides. Down in the valley itself, there is a patchwork of fields accessed by old stone-paved pathways. Most of the fields are abandoned now, and the April wildflowers were rampant amongst the olive trees and vineyards.
We chose an appealing stone pathway that led into the valley. As we walked past a high-walled garden, a lady greeted us in excellent German from within her elevated courtyard. After an initial exchange auf Deutsch, we discovered that we both spoke Greek better than we spoke German. Kyria Anastasia lived in Athens, but returned to Loucha every Easter and summer. After talking about Greece’s ongoing problems, and being quizzed as to whether Ralph was a good husband “ειναι καλος;”, we proceeded on our walk. Other than a plethora of bees and bright green little lizards, we seemed to be the only living things around.