National Geographic : 1941 Apr
473 Rhodes, and Italy's Aegean Islands Photograph troln l)orotiy Itosmer Bearded Monk and Author Climb the Cobbled Path to the Cave Where the Islanders Believe St. John Wrote the Revelation Far-visible from ship and plane are the glistening houses of Scala, chief port of rocky Patmos. The spirited pony on which the monk is riding is one of the two on the island. Most islanders walk or trust to sure-footed donkeys (page 463). antiquity the city was noted for health-giving springs, luxurious baths, silks, marbles, and wines. In the ruins of one house of the Roman era was a complete heating system. Hot air cir culated under marble floors-"a system," the superintendent of excavations said, "based on the knowledge that marble is a good conduc tor of heat." I spent much time in excavations of my own. Digging to my heart's content, I found pieces of painted amphorae and iridescent glass, a bubbled glass bottle top, buttons now green mold, and a chipped burned-clay oil lamp with a delicate leaf design. The island had more to show me-a land scape with shimmering light effects and dusty silver olive trees against bald mountains. And over excellent roads I cycled its full length, 28 miles to Cefalo, where troglodyte dwellings now serve as pigsties and stables. Along the rich coastal plain I passed Italian farms oper ated with government aid. Contrasting with the natives' archaic work ing methods were tractors and other modern implements and new villages planned on Ital ian models. Already are produced large quan tities of wheat, barley, tobacco, olives, fruits, vegetables, silk, and honey, as well as an increasing number of cows, sheep, and pigs. On leaving Cos' quiet port, our little boat entered a universe where all motion had stopped-not a breath of wind, not a ripple on the water. Fishing smacks with gay sails of rust and yellow were pinned down like butterflies in a showcase of glass. "The bonatza," said a man, using the local word for bonaccia (a calm), one of many nau tical terms borrowed from the Venetians. I saw in his eyes that fighting or waiting was all one to these islanders. Their destinies in extricably bound up with the sea, they love it all the more for the sacrifices it demands. My many weeks as the lone foreign traveler in the Italian Aegean at an end, I returned to the capital of the islands. On the way we sighted Calchi, an island of sponge fishers. Largest to the immediate west of Rhodes, six miles away, it was the third on which I was forbidden to land.