It was a nice day in early fall when I drove out to the country side. I ended up in a small village of Klonari where I saw a sprinkling of stone cottages and some abandoned old houses.
I was drawn to a ruined house where only a stone arch and part of the walls were left standing. I took some pictures. It looked like the arch was located between the living room area and dining room and kitchen. It seemed strange that it remained standing after the walls have fallen apart.
“Are you an architect?” a voice asked. A elderly man has parked himself by my car and was looking at me curiously.
“Yes,” I replied automatically. I was not, but have often found it easier to agree than explain what I was.
“You are interested in arches … I can show you more,” he said. “Just over the bend, down the valley, there are more houses with arches,” he told me as I loaded my camera into the car. “Before the war, this was, what to say …. a bustling town, with beautiful stone houses and fragrant orange groves,” he continued as his eyes took on a distant look.
So we drove down the valley to look at the houses with arches; they were mostly ruined houses with roofs, and entire walls missing. A sunflower was beaming from one of the window boxes, but there were no doors and wood shutters have fallen down. There were rotten wooden arches carved with lovely flowers and grapevines. There was life here, once, I thought to myself.
There were no children’s laughter, no sounds of farm animals of any kind. Except for the occasional stray dog and the malnourished black cat following us around, the village felt desolate as an island.
But I took some more pictures.
Later, I thanked my guide and asked if he could give me direction to get to the coast.
He smiled and solemnly declared, “I am 75 years old. I’ve lived in this village all my life. I am happy here, see?” he paused. “I see no reason to find the road to elsewhere.”