The third day dawns something cloudy and begins with the bus driver picking us up at the door of the wonderful Grecian Castle Hotel. Every students and teachers immersed on the international language of the smile willing to enjoy the excursion to the Mastichochoria (literally: mastic villages), a group of medieval villages in Southern Chios, the only site in the Mediterranean where the mastic tree, or Pistacia lentiscus var. Chia, is cultivated; called by its generic name of skínos in Greek, this is an endemic variety of pistacia plant from which mastíha (gum mastic) is produced.
On the way to the Chios Mastic Museum, an immense landscape full of Mediterranean vegetation accompanies us: repopulations of white pine (Pinus halepensis) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) alternate with Greek spruce specimens (Abies cephalonica loudon) and extensive olive crops (Olea europea craniomorpha) and suddenly the most famous one: the Mastic tree or Mastic bush. I confess that it is a very curious discovery for a Biologist like me, because in Spain the Lentisco (Mediterranean species par excellence) has no interest and is usually pruned in protected areas as a measure to prevent forest fires.
On the way by bus an unforgettable encounter with “Lalades”, the Wild Tulips of Chios…
Already in the museum, we discover the production history of the mastic tree’s cultivation and the processing of its resin, which integrates into the cultural landscape of Chios. Also we realize how the cultivation of this shrub is a collective social activity that has allowed not only to create networks of alliance and mutual aid, but also to offer the opportunity to establish the base of the economy of this area as well as to perpetuate the memory of the community and the family traditions of Mastichochoria.
After these wonderful amount of discovers, we continue our excursion to Pyrgi, the town protected by three rings-walls, full of narrow streets, houses supported on one another with arches, geometric paintings on their walls, colorful doors, tomatoes drying on the balconies, … and the wonderful and kindly polyglot Greek gentleman of its souvenir shop…
And suddenly we arrived at the beach of Komis, where we enjoyed a magnificent typical Greek food again all together … and a walk along the beach, as always, hand in hand with laughter, music and smiles ;))
Daily excursion continues in Mesta where its majestic Orthodox church impress us in contrast whit the small surface of the principal square and short and narrow streets, all built with the rocks that nature offers us as a resource.
A break in the hotel is more than enough to strengthen us and go to have dinner in the center of Khios. This time with the presence of relatives of our Greek colleagues… Time for our students to continue exchanging experiences.The students of the North of Chios this time also accompany us … And they dance to the rhythm of the live music that accompanies us throughout the dinner, enjoying the moment with that happy character that characterizes themselves. The return to the hotel was made to wait, but it was well worth it 😉