Peloponnese Monastery

The other day on the drive to the mountain village of Kosmas, Sherry pointed out a small white dot in the cliffs. She told us that it was a monastery, accessible from a road through town. Jeff and I immediately planned on doing the hike- we need the training for Kilimanjaro!

Sherry also told us that all Greek monasteries seem to have the same story of how they were built. Let’s see if I can get this right: Workers began construction on the monastery, but every day when they returned to the jobsite, they noticed that their tools had been moved. After the mysterious tool moving happened multiple times, the workers took it as a sign from God that they were not building on the correct site. Instead, God was telling them to build the monastery on the location that the tools were moved to. Once construction started over at God’s chosen site, workers would find an icon painted by Saint Luke.

According to local information, this monastery, St. Nikolaos Sintzas Abbey, is named after a fig tree that is located in the cavern that the Abbey was built in. The fig tree was a sign that there was a sacred temple where Dionysos was raised.

It took us about 2 and a half hours to walk from the beach in Plaka to the monastery. We were first greeted by the resident goats, then walked up a few more switchbacks to reach the door of the monastery. The first door was open, so we let ourselves in. The second door was closed, so Jeff used the big brass knocker to announce ourselves.

We were let in by the monastery’s lone resident. She was an extremely sweet old nun, and invited us to sit and rest. We were extremely sweaty after sluffing it up the mountain, and I hope she couldn’t smell us. We sat with her for a few minutes and served us some sort of gelatin covered in powdered sugar. I would compare the treat to about 20 marathon running goo packets squished together and covered in powder sugar. Anyways, you never say no hospitality, especially in a monastery! She also sent us home with fresh oranges and a pomegranate!

The nun and I exchanged pleasant conversation and she said some very nice things to us. Or at least I’m assuming she was saying nice things- I didn’t understand one word. And she didn’t understand anything I said. There were a lot of hand motions involved.

 View of Leonidion from the monastery. Our starting point was way on the other side of town!

View of Leonidion from the monastery. Our starting point was way on the other side of town!

Even though we couldn’t communicate with words, Jeff and I couldn’t stop smiling on our way back down the hill. For this nun, we were 1 of 2 parties that day who visited (we witnessed 1 other couple driving up the road past us as we wiped sweat from our foreheads). I think that this was our first experience where we were completely alone with someone from a different culture and we couldn’t really use our words to communicate. And it was comfortable. The world didn’t stop. Nothing bad happened. In fact- we were sent home with treats!

-Cara