Paradise Lost - or are we just naive?

Adam and Eve were cast out of paradise. I'm not sure if they ever tried to get back, those Bible lessons I missed. But let us just assume they tried, they might have experienced what we just did today.

Some years back we made a boat trip to Gramvousa and Balos, the lagoon at the most North-Western peninsula of Crete. It was hot and I got sick due to heat exhaustion, but hey, that tour was worth the suffering. The Balos lagoon was a magic place, the blue, green and most turquoise watercolors I've ever seen. Bathing was a joy. I felt like a sea turtle, convinced to lay my eggs here. This was the place I wanted my hatched turtles to see first.

When our boat approached the shallow waters it seems we were the last people on earth, allowed to re-enter paradise. The white and pink colored beach showed no sign of organized tourism, no sun beds, no umbrellas, no trash cans, no empty plastic bottles. There was a little tent where a guy sold cold drinks, and that was it. Getting to this place by car was an adventure and the last couple of kilometers you had to walk in the most unforgiving sun. An unspoilt lagoon, just a few sunburnt tourists visiting by boat, the most remote place on Crete. Terra incognita. Paradise. 

Fast forward to the year 2013, July. We take the 11 kilometer dirt road, dangerous cliffs, no protection against falling into the sea, stones, goats and dust inclusive to reach a parking lot. Already surprised to see about 20 cars parked here at around 10:00 am we walk the 20 minutes to see an unspoiled lagoon from the distance. Ignore the sun beds and umbrellas, there it is again, Paradise. Beautiful colors and white beaches with a light pink shoreline we know so well from Elafonissi. There are a few small boats moving with the little waves, a cottage with sun collectors on the roof and a handful people scattered across the scenery. A fresh breeze cools our skin, dries the sweat from the walk here. Wading through the deep and fine sand we occupy 2 sun beds and an umbrella. We put on the sun protection, lie down, fall asleep and wake up an hour later to watch the hordes fall in, being carried by boat or their own two feet. The lagoon is heating up, the noise level turned up a few notches. Kids are shouting back at their parents who try to explain that the small channel connecting outer with inner lagoon is quite deep. Just two paces and a grown up can't keep his head above water without attempts to swim. People talking, crying, shouting, laughing create a cacophony of sounds. The neighbor family from France sprays us with sun lotion and no one is respecting the rules printed on wooden boards: No camping, no littering, no setting up of umbrellas etc. Suddenly this place has transformed into a tourist hell. The only thing missing is a beach party zone, but I get the feeling the sun collectors will one day make sure that there is enough electricity. Meanwhile, after 3 tourist boats letting their people on land a bigger one arrives, spitting out an endless stream of late arrivers. All sun beds are taken, families set up their tents and when the French mama changes the diapers of her toddler right in front of us I don't want know where she will dispose of that. We pack our belongings and surrender paradise. On our way back to the parking lot we pass by other late arrivers. It is 3:00 pm.

Is paradise lost or are we just too naive and think we can have this for ourselves and a chosen few? I'm not sure. Will we try it again next year? Not likely. We have seen the Preveli beach being transformed to a place of dirt and sun beds. That was enough.


There it is. Like we remembered.

The colors of the outer lagoon.

This shows that there was a beach before this end of the island came 6 meters higher out of the water after an earthquake during the Minoan times.


Well, the sun beds are there, but still unoccupied.

Time to leave the lost paradise. Good bye Balos!