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In the village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece, Erik and I wandered around aimlessly through the medieval labyrinth of alleys and corridors. In these old villages, cars are requested to park outside of the old city in parking lots because the cobblestone streets ("streets") are too narrow. The fun thing about these old European villages and quarters, or places like souks and bazaars in the Middle East, is getting completely lost.

[There was one time when the fun wore off -- in Tunis, Tunisia -- when I had to pee so badly while lost in the souk, I thought I'd burst a kidney, but we couldn't find our way out to a place where there were restaurants with public bathrooms. Finally we saw daylight and made it out to a main street. There was a cafe across the way, but typically only men are allowed in these joints in that region of the world. But since I was a Westerner, we hoped that if Erik bought a coffee, they'd let me dodge in and use the bathroom, which they did. Which was a horrific experience, BTW. Most disgusting toilet EVER. But I digress .....]

Anyway, the streets were virtually deserted, we wandered alone in silence. Many, maybe the majority, of former residences were abandoned and decaying. Erik always feels thwarted by gates and velvet ropes and closed doors. So on any clearly abandoned place, he tried the doorknobs just in case one might be unlocked. One of the best days we ever had as tourists was exploring abandoned ksar villages in Tunisia where the people left their doors unlocked and open, and many of the people had left behind belongings, or rather, former belongings which we enjoyed poking through. Also we have enjoyed exploring Gilman, Colorado, a mining town abandoned in modern times in a similar way.

So eventually, a door creaked open under Erik's curious push.

Erik peeks in the disintegrating door of an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.

We looked up and down the alley, no one around, so we stepped inside and closed the door behind us. The ground level was just a mess of nothing. Street cats were clearly squatting in the house. I don't know if these holes were cut *for* the cats or they just happened to disintegrate in cat-friendly shapes, but this kitty, who we discovered was blind, fit in perfectly.

Kitty cat lying down in the doorway of an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.

So the ground level had nothing interesting, but we climbed up a set of stone steps and discovered on the next level not just a building abandoned, but a life abandoned. It was sad in a way to see somebody's memories and belongings left so unceremoniously to the elements and felines, who, though adorable, are utterly indifferent to the humanity bound into these left-behind items.

So here is a little photo essay to document what remains of the people who once called this ancient stone building home. This is the first place in which we've rifled through the former inhabitant's things they left behind in which I can think that we ever found photographs of the people who called the crumbling structures "home." That somehow made this place all the more eerie. We found a shoe box full of old photographs. Almost wanted to take one, keep it safely in my house away from this haphazard decay, but it seemed too irreverent to do so. I guess you should leave ghosts where they belong.

Photograph of someone who formerly lived (or of their family) in an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.Photograph of someone who formerly lived (or of their family) in an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.Photograph of someone who formerly lived (or of their family) in an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.Photograph of someone who formerly lived (or of their family) in an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.Most everything of interest was on the second level. From the outside, you can see that there was also once a balcony attached on this level. 

Second level of an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.

In a bedroom, there were still clothes inside of trunks. (What you see out the glassless window is the wall of the building on the other side of the narrow cobblestone alley.)

Door leading into a bedroom of an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.Clothes left behind in a dresser in an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.

There was another bed inside the kitchen, and a little loft where I suppose another person could sleep, or maybe it was just storage. Somehow this bed against the wall in the kitchen was the most haunting thing to me besides the photographs. I wonder who of the family was relegated to the kitchen. Somehow I envision it being Grandma. 

Bed in the corner of the kitchen in an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.Kitchen in an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.Small loft inside the kitchen in an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.Large trunk inside the kitchen in an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.

By the way, the big shadows you keep seeing are not a ghost but my wide-angle lens getting in the way of the flash and casting a shadow. In the dining room, plates were still in the china cabinet and knick-knacks on the buffet. 

Dishes left in the china cabinet in the dining room of an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.Knick-knacks left behind in the dining room of an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.

Kind of a strange place for a wash basin -- in a hallway. A mirror and soap dish remain. I like how the soap dish color matches the wall color in the bedroom and dining room. In the bottom photo, looking down the hallway with stairs to the third level, you can see the soap dish sticking out on the wall just behind and above the open wooden door.

Wash basin in the hallway of an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.Hallway of an abandoned home in the old medieval village of Mesta on Chios Island, Greece.

We left with our sense of curiosity and adventure gratified by finding what seemed like a secret lost world, a lost life, in the middle of the medieval village maze. But also feeling a bit melancholy over such intimate belongings and illustrations of a stranger's life being abandoned to time, cats and strangers. Even though, let's be honest, this is the eventual fate of nearly all of us in the large scope of time, and it will go further, with all material evidence of our lives and the dramas we experienced disintegrating and recycling into something else entirely. So I guess it's nice to bear witness, even to the lives of strangers, for as long as we can.

*

 

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