...................................................soooooo simple................................................

 

...please, remove your boots before you dine...

 

 

The day after Sandy and I were married we set off for what was to be our perfect honeymoon and as you might expect we were a little dreamy and decidedly careless. It was the beginning of a glorious July and already probably far too hot for a camping and walking holiday in Greece, but who listens to sense on these occasions? We were off to the island of Karpathos with its giddy landscapes, its woods and mountains, remote ancient villages and isolated beaches. We had no plans or expectations, just an idea that we could surrender effortlessly to the experience of whatever came along.

Two or three days into our stay and already feeling our fifty-something years, we were beginning to doubt the wisdom of our trek. Then late one day, after a hike of several hours had led us way off the beaten track, we staggered into a mountain village just as night was falling and looked for somewhere to sit.

The air was heady with herbal aromas and gentle music eased our stumblings towards a brightly lit veranda where a group of villagers sat overlooking the gentle sea thousands of feet below. We collapsed into the nearest vacant chairs, hardly able to keep our eyes open, mesmerised by the orange glow melting into the Aegean somewhere between ourselves and distant Crete. From either side, the curious locals humoured us with nods and smiles and signals. They seemed bemused by our walking poles and boots. Clearly, we drew so much attention we might well have been aliens, although I suppose we must have smelled a bit too. We sat in silence, listening to the night, enchanted.

'Good evening, my name is Yiorgos. What can I do for you, my friends? You look very tired.' He had  appeared from nowhere, happy and humming to himself as he wiped down our table.

'Oh, hello. Good evening. I'm Tony and this is my wife, Sandy. Can we order some food please? We are starving. Anything will do.'

He looked at us quizzically for a moment, 'Ah, Andonios and Alessandra - Greek names. Good choice.' He smiled, 'I'm sorry, but I think now there is only salad and some feta but if you want, my mother will make you an omelette. OK?'

'That will be perfect, thank you very much. Sygnomi. Excuse me. Do you have something to drink? We are dying of thirst as well.'

'Amesos. Right away!' He chuckled and shook his head as he disappeared into the kitchen, only to reappear in seconds with two glasses filled with ice and a bottle of Ouzo.

'Wonderful! Thanks. Efharisto.'

Sipping her drink, Sandy speculated that being so out of the way, it was quite likely that visitors were rare to the village which might explain their fascination when we first sat down and the small group of children that watched our every move. Our food was delicious, of course, and afterwards we sat in silence, digesting the moment and feeling the strength return to our aching limbs. It was time to find somewhere to sleep. We asked for the bill.

Yiorgos looked puzzled. 'Bill? What bill?' He shrugged, 'There is no bill!' Then as the penny dropped, he spread his arms, 'Hah! This is my home. Hey! You were tired and hungry. No problem.'

My mouth fell open, my jaw hit the ground and I almost fainted with embarrassment, 'Oh, dear! We are so very, very sorry. When we saw all these people sitting here we thought you were a taverna!'

'What? Me? A taverna? No, no, no my friends. Once every month, my wandering son phones from Australia and all the family gathers here to speak to him. Tonight is the night.'

His mother appeared,  grinning from ear to ear savouring our embarrassment. Then her grin grew even wider, 'Don't worry. It is nothing. And please, come back tomorrow because tomorrow we will have - sardinas!!'

 


*****

 

© Reprinted with the kind permission of Country Walking Magazine

 

 

 

www.grecofilia.co.uk

 

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