Posted on behalf of J Bouchard
Over the summer a few of us flew to Heraklion in Crete to spend a couple of weeks “quasi caving”. In short this means we pretend we are going on a hardcore expedition to find new caves but actually spend more time drinking Rachi (local spirit, not of the ghost variety) and snorkelling, or talking about snorkelling in Andy Kuszyk’s case.
After a 4 hour flight and we landed in Heraklion, either via hire car or local bus transfer we soon found ourselves being looked after by our generous hosts, the Gadanakis family in the village of Dafni.
Yiorgos showed Andy how to dance(!) in preparation for the local Paniyiri, a Cretian religious festival: church followed by party, dancing, eating & drinking, a video may soon be available on YouTube courtesy of Meyres Kuszyk. Amelia Handley was intrigued by the triple fleck caving rope adoring the village church bell, I kid you not. Pre my arrival, Henry Dawson and Yiorgos had a couple of promising new cave entrances, one with a significant pause before their test stone hit the floor, but in the following days we choose to go outdoor caving instead aka gorge walking and swimming. See pics.
The Gadanakis family are resident in a small village in the Sitias region of Crete, it is literally so small that you are always within a stone’s throw of one of the family members’ houses. The Speleo Ingle (English Cavers) seemed to be flavour of the month and we were treated to some delicious local food as well as a chance to catch up with Anna Tsakalaki and also some local cavers from last year.
At the end of August, SPOK (Speleogical Club of Crete) hosted the 16th Cretian Caving Conference, the equivalent of the UK’s Hidden Earth. After a heavy night on the Rachi and fuelled by Spaghetti Bolognese, Henry and Yiorgos set off down Le Maxim a -250m cave with only 2 hours sleep. Needless to say they weren’t keen to join in with the Spelio Olympics assault course later in the afternoon. A big thank you to the organisers who were very welcoming and after a few ‘Milate Anglikas’ we worked out that their English was infinitely better than our Greek.
See http://16pss.spok.gr/?q=node%2F7 – Try Google Chrome Translate if your Greek is as bad as mine!
On our rest days we visited the family farm and helped to feed the animals – I use this term loosely, I mainly cowered in the corner when the dogs barked and got scared of the wasps which were megalo. Andy and Mesh agreed that open top 4×4 travel is the way forward and Amelia Handley and I tried to prove this later by hiring a quad, but sadly we broke the drive chain within 36 hours. Oops.
I’ll cut a long story short and let you look at the pics, having tried some cave snorkelling I’m not in a rush to do any cave diving! And we’ll have to wait to hear from Henry on whether that pitch goes or not….