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The elegy of the lakes

No one has ever successfully photographed them. The feeling they produce to their guests is perhaps not transferable. It is not only their mind-boggling stillness, nor the size which seems to shift and vary under your looks, no; they are not like any ponds you know. It’s that they are the ambassadors from another era.

Breathtaking frost, winter mist has covered everything.

The two Prespa Lakes in the morning are often wrapped around fog. Thick reeds fade in their water and dissolve like watercolors to create a tideline of snow peaks. All of our senses are alert and our vision every so often strays from the beaten track to these shores of beauty.

Great and Small Prespa Lake are surrounded by impressive mountains (Devas, Varnoudas, Triklario), engulfed by a handful of silent villages abandoned after the Civil War (1946-1949). Miracle hermitages and rock paintings, water buffalos walking nonchalantly towards the reeds; rare fish eggs incubated under them, beans being steamed reminding of the foggy scenery outside and tsipouro, (local brandy), oozing faithfully from the boilers. Lake district ebbs and flows in time with the seasons but here, there’s no Greek summer. Autumn is the very first spring and by that moment, everything shifts into yellow motionlessness.

Around 2,000 people live in the area, coexisting with 260 species of birds, 20 species of fish, wild pigs skulking around the ponds, mum and juvenile brown bears, wolves on the hunt for shepherd dogs, and even lynx, as some of the natives say.

Hundred children grow up seeing miracles - yet they do not know it. Men are typically fishing along with the largest colony of Dalmatian pelicans in the world or they find each other chatting at the ''kafeneio'' (traditional Greek coffee shop). Women on the other hand, drain local fish and peppers, while a few youngsters throw ideas for various tourism foundations and further rustic development. Most of them reside in humble cement framed houses, which bare no title deeds as they were swapped over conquest after the end of the Civil War. Anyway, long story….