Young adult fiction author Mick Hearle explores a village lost in time.
Today, I saw a girl from the village riding a donkey and talking on a cellphone. She had a faded red scarf covering her hair and dusty bare feet. I smiled and waved at her as she passed, and she smiled back. Behind her was a stone ruin from 500 bc – an ancient cistern. A little further on was a crumbling structure which looked as old as the ruin but had a rusty satellite dish jutting from the roof. Someone’s house. This jarring contrast of past and present is typical of the area. Hoyran is a village caught between several different historical periods, belonging to none.
The air smells like wild rosemary and garlic calling to mind images of mashed potato and pasta. No such dishes will be served at our guest house. Fresh salads, olives, bread, and fish are the meals on offer. Such a healthy way to eat. After dining like this for only one week, I feel lighter; thinner. The mirror reveals these thoughts to be delusional. I blame the beer. Creamy and cheap.
Before visiting this village, I thought Australia was unique in its abundant entomological life. I was wrong. Hoyran is teeming with bugs. Black locusts and yellow crickets hop underfoot. Spiders scurry between cracks in the hot rocks. I’ve lost count of the different varieties of flying beetles which thrum the air. My ankles are pink and swollen with mosquito bites
Reptiles too, slither and crawl in formidable numbers. Lizards sun themselves on our balcony railing. Jet black snakes run through the undergrowth like rivulets of spilled ink. Turtles ambush us on rocky mountain paths. At night, the splashing of frogs as they swim lazy laps in the guesthouse pool keeps us awake.
Afternoons are the time for exploring as the sun has lost some of its fierceness. Greta and I walk in the hills. There are broken tombs everywhere. No bones remain in the hollow cavities, just cesspools where midges breed. A goatherd ambles by leading his goats through the scattered sarcophagi. The goats regard us with bright suspicious eyes, bounding away when we get too close. The sun is setting and the granite slabs are now cool. A fine spot to rest. Heat lightning crackles over the mountains in the distance. Come evening though, no rain will fall. We watch the fading red light play across the graves. The village of Hoyran sprouted from a Byzantine necropolis. Life from death. It is an enchanted place and I’ll be sorry to leave.
To read more of Mick’s beautiful writing, visit www.mjhearle.com