Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chios Easter Rockets 2012

Our Greek Orthodox Easter celebration was one I will NEVER forget. The island of Chios, only a short ferry ride away from Cesme, Turkey is a Greek island of beauty and a bit of fame as well. Homer was born and lived here. But nowadays, the celebration of rockets on Easter has lured in random travelers from all over the world. Chios is famous for small town of Vrontados, which has two large churches in the center of the city. For five hours straight (with two 30-minute breaks) the opposing churches shoot rockets at each other consistently. Every year people die from misfiring rockets, misfortune or poor choices of where to stand.

We drove from our hotel to the seaside town of Vrontados, not knowing what to expect, but insanely excited to see these "famous rockets" we'd heard so much about. We arrived at 8pm and hitched a ride up to one of the viewing locations- where we sat and watched the rockets, completely mesmerized. Chios Rocket Fire (click on the link!) rained down upon us. Well not so much as upon us, as near us. We scurried about that hill as fast as we could to avoid both the fireworks aiming for the churches and the ridiculously irresponsible parents letting their children blast fireworks into the streets where people were congregating. Next to us, one kid hit a van with a Roman candle. We scattered quickly! Then, we hiked up the mountain to watch from a better vantage point. After continuing our move slowly upwards we made friends with a Greek family who had a stunning villa with a perfect panorama of both churches firing at each other! We walked onto their porch, smiled and they invited us to stay!

How can I describe this event? Words fail me. I was terrified. Mesmerized. Dazzled. Anxious. Fearful. Engrossed. The entire experience was completely unique and definitely kept us on our toes, seeing as at points, we were covering our heads and running. Minute after gripping minute, thousands of fireworks burst into the sky, some hitting trees, surrounding houses and cars! Most families had wrapped chicken wire around their homes to avoid serious damage. Since this tradition has been happening for years, the families and emergency teams know what to do and how to respond. Apparently, some residents are quite unhappy about the tradition, as their houses do at times set fire. We watched from the villa for the next two hours. And then....

(To be continued tomorrow...come back for the crazy end to this tale!!!)

The Duz'ers + Ashlyn (taking the photo!) 

and the rockets begin. Chios, 2012. Easter 

At this point, so many rockets are firing, we are in disbelief there aren't fires everywhere! 

the aim? Trying to hit the opposing churches bell tower! 

the fire storm continues 

Chios Easter rocket battle. It was epic. 

a shot from where our side (the winning church side) was launching rockets from the base of the hill 

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