Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Today, the wine tasted like cherries

I’ve been in a bit of a funk this past week. Call it post-Pascha hangover, call it homesickness. Whatever. I haven’t really felt like doing much or socializing with my Naxian friends. The weather has been fine – gorgeous strong sunshine, but the winds on my north-facing aerie have been fierce and relentless the whole week. Perhaps their constant howl has added to my blue mood. I have less than three weeks before returning to Canada and about one more week here dedicated to work before I am officially in the “vacation” part of this odyssey.

So today to lift my spirits, I rented a car. A petite little orange thing that makes a Smart Car look like a bus. I suspect it is the only one on the island with an automatic transmission. There. Now you know. I can’t drive a stick – hanging my head in shame.

So once the rental formalities were observed - license, money, evidence of a heartbeat - I was good to go and I hit the open road. Map? Pfffft….. how can you get lost on an island? Just keep the sea out one window and keep turning in the same direction.

I visited my favourite parts of the island today – the golden beaches of Agios Prokopias, Agia Anna, Maragas and Plaka. Pretty much deserted of course this time of year … so I had miles of coast all to myself allowing me to commune with the sea, collect the obligatory handful of seashells, and ignore the two nutty Danes sunbathing in the nude behind an outcropping of rocks (it was 16C today, that’s why I say nutty). Drinking in the loveliness of this coast recalibrated my brain and settled my soul.

The tiny village of Agia Anna holds many tavernas, but one of my favourites is the huge Taverna Gorgona. The gorgon that owns it is genial with a dry sense of humour , bad knees, and a quirky but determined grasp of English. Her place commands the most important corner of the village, overlooking the crossroads, wharf and beach access. One can sit on her terrace, enjoy her excellent food and watch the boats bob in the marina. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon.

Today she brought me a generous slab of her moussaka, sizzling pommes frites (made the way god intended- in olive oil) and a special treat of her crispy spanakopites and tyropites as an appetizer. Since my intention was to dwaddle the afternoon away, I ordered wine. Wine can be a dodgy prospect in Greece – some of the local barrel wine can burn the hair out of the inside of your ears, and sometimes it is ambrosia and each mouthful is a gift from Dionysius. Today, I got lucky – for the gorgon’s wine was rich and fat and tasted of cherries. Bliss.

My mood lifted, my equilibrium was restored – not from the wine but from the total package of perfection of being in the right place at the right time, as the gods ordained. Endorphins cycling high from good food, sunshine, a friendly gorgon …. and a sea as blue as forever. And wine tasting of cherries.

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