Friday, 2 July 2010

A Greek chorus

High above Metsovo, the sky darkens. A thunderclap breaks the gloom, crackingly loud as if the gods are playing bowls overhead. We drive towards the 1,705 metre Katara Pass, once the only route through these lonely mountains.

The sun comes out in a flash that is almost blinding. Pine trees cling to the sides of the mountains, holding on for dear life, while campanula, yellow yarrow and thistle pause for breath.

In the town square of Metsovo, the old men sit in the long shelter in front of the gardens. They are all wearing suit jackets and an assortment of hats including flat caps and baseball caps and black berets. They gabble, flicking their rosary beads and clacking their shepherd crooks. One of them stands up, gazing at the black-edged obituaries on the notice board.

'You next,' says one of them with a laugh.

A haze of woodsmoke hits the cold air and the kokoretsi on the grill turns slowly, its ribbons dripping fat on the embers below.

An old man comes around the corner, taps with his stick on one of the posts supporting the shelter and shouts to his friends: 'Anyone at home?'

'No, we left long ago,' say the ghosts of old men past.

They come alive as a group of young women in short dresses bend over to pack the boot of a nearby car. An old woman in traditional costume picks her way down the cobbled street and the men turn to ghosts once more, clasping their hands over the ends of their walking sticks as if in a combined act of prayer.

In the courtyard of a house where truffles dry out in the sun, a little old man and woman stoke up a cauldron and make some butter.

Up in the mountains, where grizzly shepherds roam with gravel-voiced dogs and the occasional brown bear, the Katara Pass beckons us. We are off to Meteora, with its myriad of monasteries perched high on mounds of stone rising up from the earth.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

1 comment:

Pondside said...

Take me with you!...........
Oh wait - you have. Thanks for the brilliant moment in the sunshine, the smell of that butter and the imagined sun on my face.
Still cool and rainy over here.