Our first visit to Chios just recently could be described as wanderlust. It is a place we had longed to visit and experience the Mastichochoria, the Greek island’s mastic villages. Mesta, one of these mastic villages is located in the southwest of the island. It has retained much of its medieval character – long stone vaulted archways (diavatiko) act as passages from the centre square (plateia) to the outer village fortified walls with houses extended overhead to maximise living space within. It was fun exploring, even though we got lost now and then in the maze, often finding ourselves in dead ends.
This area of the Mastichochoria is where the Pistacia lentiscus tree is cultivated for its aromatic resin – the only place in the world this sought after product is produced. Collectively, the villages are represented on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Further, the product – mastic – is now under EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. Each of the mastic villages have unique characteristics just as they have unique mastic tree varieties modified over centuries of local agricultual experimentation.
Mesta has been continually inhabited by mastic growers since the 12th century. Recently, funding has allowed the villagers to restore the crumbling medieval buildings to kick-start tourism. Off its stone canyons are doors to storerooms and houses – some inhabited and some awaiting reconstruction and all telling stories of life in the village. This one is opposite an inhabited house and now serves as a niche for decorative wild broom flowers in a vase on a small table, shoes tucked underneath, with a more functional broom and mop propped behind.
An inhabited house with a basic green door with ironwork in front of glass significantly sports a smoke cross blackened above the door made from the lit candle carried home from the recent Easter vigil at the church.
And, an uninhabited house with a wonky chained double door is marked with whitewashed crosses on its rough wood panels.
Full of colourful mottled character is this secure metal door to a ground level storeroom. A practical grapevine is growing out of its base to add a bit of shade to the balcony terrace above.
Definetly awaiting reconstruction, this door has a lot of interesting colour and texture. It will probably be replaced with something more modern and functional.
In contrast, residents wait at a well-kept door for the return of the key holder at supper time.
We have seemed to catch this village in the middle of a metamorphosis and in the off-tourist season full of busy construction with cement mixers everywhere.
Coming up soon, more doors of the Mastichochoria – Pyrgi, Olympoi and Vessa.
Wanderlust: The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.
Also, check out Norm’s Thursday Doors for views of doors worldwide.