Eternal life of cars
APRIL 17, 2021 | CORFU | 4 MIN
An integral part of the Corfu landscape are abandoned cars. Although “abandoned” is actually not the best word. It suggests that someone carelessly left the car in a random place - and this is certainly not the point.
On Corfu, old cars are ubiquitous, but they do not stand at random places. Of course, I’m thinking about vehicles that will never go anywhere. The owners left them on the side of the road, in an olive grove, in an old garage or at the top of the mountain letting them fall apart and return to where they belong, i.e. to mother nature. They always stand so to not disturb anyone. These cars are really old. If I know a bit about motorization, these models are at least 30-40 years old. They have served their owners faithfully for a long time, their seats are wiped through, the steering wheels are lean because of continuous turning, and rust has settled in them long before the inevitable retirement. They are always somehow neat: if they stand on the side of a steep road, they have large stones under the wheels so that they do not roll into the abyss; if the front flap no longer closes, a large stone lies on the hood so that the wind does not blow it away. The sporty Lancia from the early 1970s is covered with a cover, even though the first bushes are already growing out of its crumbling seats.
The residents of Corfu have the extraordinary ability to set their demobilized vehicles in charming places. Or maybe these places become charming thanks to the skillful composition of the whole scene? The larger ones, with goods space, often stand in olive groves, among 300-year-old trees, if they used to bring olives to the pressing plant, their eternal rest in this place seems more natural. A passenger Ford from the late 1960s stands in a large meadow, regularly mown. But not in the middle or on the edge, but slightly from the side, in a place that once selected for him seems ideal, according to the eternal principles of proportion. The meadow is mowed, but not quite, where the car stands, the brushwood grows around without any obstacles, as if they wanted to absorb a once mechanical vehicle into the vegetable world.
Cars on Corfu age beautifully. Humid climate, salty wind and a lot of sun make that the rust is clean, has a deep brown color and eat through the solid frames of small trucks, with the efficiency of sea waves drilling underwater caves on the north coast of the island. The tires are bursting at the earliest – as if they wanted to solemnly declare that they would not go anywhere. The car sits down slightly lower on the rims, trying to bite into the ground more and slowly disappear. In these places, even on asphalt, some soil collects and grass immediately grows there, and the once very busy vehicle gains its final rooting. Plants start to grow out from its other places: from bumpers, from gutters in front of the windshield, from seats or trunk, if there is no back screen in it. The old car is slowly becoming part of nature.
The motorization on Corfu is probably too young to be able to observe the total destruction of a mechanical vehicle. Those cars are rather at the beginning of the journey into the afterlife. However, they are far from the durability of ancient temples or statues. Their half-life period should be counted in dozens rather than hundreds of years. But there are many more of them, so they are more conspicuous.
Dying cars surprised me the most, the day I was climbing at the top of the mountain for several hours – one of the highest in the southern part of the island. It turned out that at the very summit, in the most remote and inaccessible place, there is a real cemetery of old vehicles. Arranged in equal rows as a platoon of troops, they flexed their masks to the sun. Maybe from the top of the mountain it is closer to the underground kingdom of Hades?
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