Walking uphill in the late afternoon on a quiet paved road that wrapped around the mountains, we met a small herd of goats being directed by two barking dogs crossing the road. We cautiously moved passed the docile group and found the perfect place to watch the sun drop behind the mountains running along the horizon in the Meteora region of Greece.
The landscape stretched out before us was incredible. Four ancient Greek Orthodox monasteries dating back to the 12th century were perched on top of pillars of sandstone. It almost seemed like a giant movie canvas or painting.
As I inhaled some cookies that I bought from the only open convenience store in the nearby town and Nic peeled an orange, we sat in awe and commented on the ingenuity of the monks.
We were alone. The air was cool, crisp and filled with the familiar smells of fall.
Then, we heard car doors slam.
“Shoot! We have visitors.” I thought.
Soon we heard the sounds of a man chuckling and feet moving across loose gravel.
We didn’t take our eyes off the mountains to get a look at the new arrivals. But then, we heard in a heavy Greek accent –
“Do you want some black water?”
We both turned to see a middle-aged Greek gentleman holding up a plastic bottle of what appeared to be black water. Let’s call him Dimitri because it seems every man’s name in Northern Greece is Dimitri.
A woman who appeared to be his lady friend of undetermined significance stood next to him smiling.
“Black water?” I said hesitantly as I began to survey the situation.
“Yes, black water!” he chuckled and continued, “Red wine! Made it myself.” He laughed again but in a way that seemed genuine and kind…not in a way that seemed like he was about to poison some tourists, which I have to embarressingly admit, was on my mind.
“Yeah! Sure!” I replied enthusiastically but still somewhat skeptically.
He walked over and peered down at us.
“Oh! Something to put it in! Umm…” I said while looking around.
Nic pulled out a large empty plastic water bottle from his beat-up backpack and handed it to Dimitri.
Dimitri chuckled again and proceeded to pour a good portion of black water into the bottle.
I wondered silently, “Hmmm, I don’t know about this…I’m sure it’s fine but we are all alone up here and we plan to walk back to our hotel in the dark…”
Thankfully, I couldn’t carry on with my crazy-lady thoughts for long because they were interrupted by the sounds of a harmonica. It was Dimitri playing a little tune as his lady friend snuggled up close to him and laughed.
I’m pretty sure a harmonica player with a lady friend hanging out on a rock overlooking monasteries at sunset doesn’t try to poison travelers.
So, we opened the plastic water bottle and took a drink.
It was great and so was the sunset.