Cape Sounion

by wjw on March 12, 2015

sounionHere’s another photo from my long-ago trip to Greece, of sunrise at the temple to Poseidon on Cape Sounion, at the end of the Attic peninsula.

I took the bus out to Sounion, bought a ticket, viewed the ruin— which is perhaps the most perfect small temple ever built— and then had souvlaki in a seaside cafe.  I had a bathe, and met two Second World War vets who’d been in the underground.  One showed me the scars from a German machine pistol, which stitched him from his right shoulder across his body to his left thigh.  I was amazed he’d survived.

One of them told me that the temple was prone to mirages of Libya, and that sometimes you could see Arabs and camels wandering around the pillars.  No wonder the ancients thought the place was sacred.

After dark, I snuck around the fence and climbed up to the ruins, where I laid out my sleeping bag and contemplated the stars, quite brilliant on a dark but windy night.  Once it started getting light, I jumped up and commenced worshipping the local noumena, mainly by capering around and shooting off several rolls of slide film.

I regret to say that the marvelously subtle colors of these photos have deteriorated over the decades, but maybe this photo will give you an idea of the magic of the moment.

(Lord Byron, by the way, carved his name on one of these pillars, right where the sunrise would strike it every day.)

After the sun was up I began to be worried about getting busted for trespassing, so I made my way down, had another bathe in a secluded bay before taking the first bus back to Athens, where I arrived in time for breakfast.

I had a blob of crude oil stuck in my hair that resulted in an impromptu haircut, gift from a passing tanker.

The sequence of pictures, which is still maybe forty images long, is still a wonder.

Foxessa March 12, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Among the many consolations for getting older is having had experiences that are close to sublime — and knowing that one is continuing to have them too.


Love, C.

wjw March 14, 2015 at 6:35 am

This was as sublime an evening as I’ve ever had, and the power of the experience has survived in my memory. The discovery of the degradation of the original film over the decades was something akin to pain. But at least I remember what the colors used to be, even though I can’t recreate them for others.

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