Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pelicans, Rabbits, Dogs & Scads of Cats

(Click on photos to enlarge)

After 40 years of traveling in Greece and photographing the country’s ubiquitous cats, I put the best of the feline photos into my book “The Secret Life of Greek Cats” last year — telling each cat’s story, recounting their folktales and insights into Greek life, food, history, myths and holidays.

This year, I still can’t stop photographing every cat I see, so I thought I’d share some new ones taken on this trip. But I couldn’t overlook a couple of dogs we encountered, as well as rabbits, pheasants and of course Petros—the famous pelican of Mykonos.

First in the photos above is a cat we saw guarding the temples in the Roman Forum of Athens, right below the Acropolis, next is a cat on Mykonos who loved having her back scratched by the “Big Eleni.” Third is a cat who tried to crash Maggie’s Mykonos wedding by walking down the aisle ahead of the bride.

Next row shows Eleni and Marina getting to know Petros, the pelican who is the mascot of Mykonos. (There’s a Mrs. Petros too, and several other pelicans who keep an eye on the fishing boats as they come in every day.) Next is Marina holding Ruda, a morbidly obese and very spoiled little dog from Nick’s village of Lia who thinks she’s a person. Third is Marina again, getting to know a puppy belonging to our Corfu cousins, and finally — a sign on a Corfu handicraft shop asking if anyone would take six orphaned kittens and keep the siblings together.

Third row shows what we found when we took a little boat from Corfu’s new harbor to the nearby island of Vidos to watch the sun set. The tiny island used to be home to expatriated Serbian officers (who got cholera and died), then to a juvenile detention school. Now the imposing buildings are in ruins and there is only a single taverna (and a lot of camp grounds,) but to our astonishment the island is teeming with rabbits—large and small and all colors—maybe thousands of them—and they’re tame. So are the pheasants that are nearly as numerous as the bunnies. The third photo show our Corfu cousins holding some of their four kittens as well as the afore-mentioned puppy.

The fourth row shows some of the six cats belonging to a British lady named Val who has a beautiful little resort of stone cottages on Corfu. Three of her cats are all white and also deaf. I already knew that white cats with blue eyes are usually deaf (it’s a genetic thing) but the one of Val’s that I photographed most—named Nobu—has greenish eyes.

Finally are two photographs of the hard-working taverna cats who decorate nearly every outdoor restaurant in Greece and usually wait very politely for scraps from the table. On the left are two cats at the Cephalonian taverna of Annoula where we were treated to the delicious local treats by Aunt Lillian, and on the right is a cat at the pink and blue Lefkada taverna called “The Seven Islands”.

Our Greek odyssey is drawing to a close in a week and we’re now in Athens where the dogs outnumber the cats. Right before the Olympic Games in 2004, the city picked up all the street dogs, had them spayed, vaccinated and dressed with a color-coded collar to show they belong to the city and put them back in the streets where they seem to be well fed by local merchants. The dog that lies sleeping by the door of the super-elegant Grande Bretagne hotel is nearly as fat as Ruda.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It looks like you're having a heck of a time Joanie! We miss you here in the states!