We oohed and aahed at our room, then went for a walk on the beach, where we met a young couple carrying some old nets that had washed up. The girl explained that turltes and other sea life can get caught and drown in the nets, and birds will eat pieces of plastic and also die. So we, too, embarked on a beach cleanup walk. Over the three days there we collected two large trash bags of all kinds of plastic junk including some netting, all the way down to lots of straws that are used in proliferation here. It was a nice feeling to leave the beach cleaner and safer than when we got there. Jen even found an encrusted ring that at first looked like an antique, but turned out to be a tourist trinket still seen in shops today!
The next day we rented a little car and drove around the island. On my last two trips there I had been woefully negligent in seeing more of Naxos besides the beach and Naxos town, but this time we did a pretty thorough job of exploring it. On Stelios's advice we headed for the center of the island and drove through several cute little villages. We stopped to check out a little church, which turned out to be gated... But we met an old Greek man next door, probably the caretaker, who hardly spoke a word of English but invited us by sign language to go in the gate ("Porta") and see the gardens. He seemed impressed at our admiration of the plants, because then he also waved us into his own garden next door, where we met his smiling wife who offered us cookies and coffee. I remembered the legendary Greek hospitality and knew we were likely to be asked inside for lunch, so after a short visit we indicated we had to go. Before we left they gave us some lemons from their tree and took our picture in their garden!
Our lack of communication inspired Jen & I to brush up on our Greek, and we quickly learned (re-learned, in my case) some basic phrases. Now we can both say enough words to please the local shopkeepers, etc., at least enough to show that we've made an effort. I was even asked if I spoke Greek!
The drive turned out to be pretty cliff-hugging, including avoiding some goats and other obstacles like rocks and oncoming buses, but we made it to a great little village on a mountain where we were served a wonderful lunch at a sidewalk taverna. The village also had some great artisans' shops where we browsed before continuing on around the top of the island and back down along the coast. We finished up in Naxos town and walked out to the giant "Porta".ruins of an ancient Greek temple. (The remains are what's left of the door-- hence the name), and then had a harborside dinner and checked out the many shops in the labyrinth of winding little alleys.
It was such a full day we did nothing but relax the next day; only going for another beach walk and cleaning up another section of beach. We read a lot and worked on our tans, and had a final dinner at Yanni's. Anna was kind enough to let us use her washing machine, and hanging up our clothes out back, she showed us a little cubby hole where a pretty dog was nursing some adorable puppies. Speaking of dogs, I also fed a nearby Rottweiler chained all day in an empty lot with a doghouse. He had water, but ate my canned food ravenously, and was very grateful!