No, this isn’t a description of a gothic night-flight of vampiric birds, he is referring rather to the big, flat ping-pong bat leaves of the prickly pear, staking their claim on abandoned ruins, one of few plants able to thrive in such harshly dry and rocky terrain.¬† In such a parched land, the appearance of ‘green cataracts’ of their pithy leaves is particularly surprising.

‘Millions of thorn-studded bats swirled around the tower bases and groped through barred windows and gaps in the masonry and rolled in green cataracts from the steep rock’s face overhead.’

Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, introduction by Michael Gorra, New York: New York Review of Books, 2006 (1958), p. 136

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