Aegina Home & Living - Living in Aegina

 

 

 


LIVING IN AEGINA

What is it REALLY like to live in Aegina?

 

                                                           LIVING
 

LIVING

 

MAY 2008


EASTER IN AEGINA

 



 

Years ago, when we visited Aegina for family holidays, as soon as we arrived on the island, the first thing the children did was to phone their grandma, whom they’d ask to send round Helen, an aged tortoise. They believed their grandma needed respite from caring for Helen and they were qualified to do this.

Within minutes, their doting uncle could be heard popping along on his tired scooter, precariously clutching a carrier bag, inside of which sat Helen.

Helen was a huge creature, rumored to be fifty years old. Her shelled armour was dark with yellowish markings and she led a seemingly quiet life, trudging around the wilderness of grandma’s garden, enjoying the sunshine and a staple diet of wild rocket. At midday, when the sun was blisteringly hot, she would retreat to one of the many cool, moist shady spots in the garden, beneath a plant or a space concealed at the base of a crumbling rock where she’d take a siesta in the safety of her shell.

Although I considered her boring as far as pets are concerned, the children found her fascinating and spent hours talking to her and observing her habits. She appeared to tolerate them and would simply retreat into her home when they became too unbearable

Before returning to England, the children delivered Helen like a babe in arms to grandma who would cluck with delight and offer her a piece of fruit as a home-returning treat.

Perhaps it was two years ago when my mother-in-law first realized that Helen was missing; she hadn’t been seen for at least a week and then it was two which grew into months until she had to finally accept she was lost. We assume and hope she had finally left home and had migrated from the un-fenced garden to a neighboring field and beyond there to the mountains.

However, recently our youngest child spotted a tortoise making its way slowly across a main road and fearing for its safety, she scooped it up, placed it in her school bag and brought it to our garden where it continues to live quite happily.

We are fortunate and in particular tortoises are fortunate to have a wonderful woman on the island  called Martha who is passionate about them. She rescues stray tortoises which then happily breed in the haven she has created for them in her garden. She buys food which she knows is nourishing, builds pens which provide both sunshine and shade and nurses them to maturity when she finally releases them into the mountains, their natural habitat.

Each tortoise is known by name and thrives under her care. It is possibly a sad day for them although politically correct when they are finally released into their natural habitat.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Tortoises are abundant in Greece, one of the most common species being the Marginated Tortoise.

Marginated Tortoises can grow up to a weight of 5kgs and a length of 35cms (Wilkepedia, Marginated Tortoises)

The natural habitat of the Marginated tortoise is mountainous and they can be found in Southern Greece, from the Peloponnesus to Mount Olympus.

The mainly black colour of the shell allows the tortoise to absorb a great deal of heat in a short time, helping it to maintain its body temperature.

Early in the morning, Marginated Tortoises bask in the sun to raise their body temperature and then search for food.  After feeding, the tortoises return to their shelters in the hot midday hours, leaving them again in the late afternoon

Marginated Tortoises are herbivorous, feeding off various plants from the Mediterranean areas, particularly wild rocket and certain grasses.

After mating, female tortoises lay up to 15 eggs per clutch which they bury in the soil. Here they mature for around 100 days, sometimes longer until they hatch.

 

To find out more about tortoises , visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marginated_Tortoise

 

Alison Lorentzos   copyright 2008

 

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