While most Pomaks now live in modern houses and flats…
Some still preferred to live a more rustic life.
Still, there were signs that they knew how to make their own fun.
And by the time summer comes around, I’m sure they would make good use of all the creeks and water holes.
Let’s get a few more glimpses of how life is in the mountains for the Pomaks.
As I mentioned earlier, unlike the Christian Orthodox Greeks, the Pomaks are strictly Muslim. You can see a few mosques dotted in the mountains, and you can certainly hear the calls to prayer echoed via loudspeakers several times a day. So there’s no excuse not to pray, even if you’re away from the village tending your goats.
Spring is a time to plough the fields and plant seeds for the coming year. There was plenty of evidence of agriculture in the mountains.
Even though it’s less than 50km as the crow flies from the nearest city, the winding and precipitous roads make the region quite remote. Most Greeks have never visited this area, and up until 20 years ago, outsiders weren’t even allowed to enter, and that makes the Rodophes even more unworldly.
Life on the mountain is hard. It can get to -15C in the winter, and the terrain is challenging to say the least.
But the goat herders certainly know the mountains and their goats. The goats graze on the move, and the goat herders just direct them now and then.
Each herder seems to have their own technique. Some let the goats do their thing, some whistle and shout to move the goats along.
What they all have in common are their dogs. Each herder has several dog helpers. They lead the goats and also herd the stragglers. Most seem to be hardy mountain breeds, but there seems to be the odd mongrel.
These dogs were certainly the herder’s best friend.
Hubby and colleague P are studying gems in Thrace, the northern-most state in Greece. It is south of the border with Bulgaria and east of the border with Turkey, so ethnically, it’s a very different place to Athens and the islands. We arrived in time to see Spring come to the mountains. The blossoms were in bloom, the new leaves unfurl, the grass turn green, and the weather beginning to warm up just a touch.
Living in a (seemingly) evergreen place, it was nice to see the seasons change.