16. Sheep Ahoy!

First, an apology

 I’ve been told off about my last missive, “A load of bowls”.

According to Spiros I got it wrong about the “silver water”. In fact the reason for spraying meat, fish and veg. with the stuff is not only to render them safe for human consumption if they’re past their sell by date, but also to lessen the spiritual trauma of the said meat, fish and veg. when they are cooked. Similarly, one should always freeze food, vegetables in particular, as soon as possible; that way the spirit of the food is put to rest quickly and doesn’t suffer the lingering pain of remembering being picked, killed or caught, as the case may be. Never let it be said that these jottings don’t teach you anything.

On the subject of apologies, I must also apologise if I have given anyone the impression that it was the action of the wind and waves over the winter that accounts for the diminishing quantity of sand on the previously ‘sandy beach’. While taking an afternoon stroll the other day I found out where the sand is going – I think the sheep are eating it. At least that’s my impression having watched as a flock of 100 or more moaning sheep were being driven along the water’s edge the entire 700 metre length of the beach. It transpires that in the run up to Easter- which was on April 15thin 2012 in spite of what the heretics in the west may think – the flock is brought down from the hills to graze on the odd bits of green around the edges of the village. According to Spiros, driving them on the beach serves several purposes, firstly it keeps them off the road, though some might say that the sheep show more roads sense than many, if not most, Cretan drivers and secondly the resistance of the sand when walking on the beach builds up their leg muscles and makes for a bigger and more tender joint of meat when they keep their appointment with the barbeque at Easter. This then, of course, raises the obvious question: if you build up their leg muscles too much, will you be able to catch them in order to slaughter them? Who knows…but since we’ve been invited so far to three barbeques on (Orthodox) Easter Sunday, if there’s no lamb on offer, we’ll have our answer.

Sheep preparing to eat the beach. Photo courtesy of KRITIguide*

While we’re on the subject of drinking, we were in the kafenion the other night and sitting in the corner when we got there was an elderly (almost as old as me) German hippy, complete with dreadlocks, home knitted striped jumper, sandals compulsory sleeping bag, drinking Frappe (iced coffee- but you knew that) with milk and getting very twitchy and agitated. We thought he might have been suffering withdrawal symptoms brought about by a lack of non herbal substances, unfortunately not an unknown occurrence here, until Spiros told us he had been there for three hours drinking coffee non- stop and getting progressively worse and worse with respect to twitching. It appeared that he had arrived and, having bought his first Frappe, had left his bag and gone to the supermarket across the road, returning a few minutes later with a large tin of instant coffee and a tin of condensed milk. He had then asked for and obtained, a jug of iced water and had proceeded to manufacture his own Frappes, consuming in the process and over the three hours, most of the 250g tin of coffee and all of the milk  – hence his state of agitation by the time we had arrived. After three hours and spending only 2.50 Euros, Spiros was about to ask him to leave, but just then his friend rolled up on a one seated scooter – it should have had two but this is Crete. The friend ordered a karafaki of tsikoudia (a 200ml carafe, 2 Euro without the mezede) and two glasses and the pair sat in silence, finishing the karafaki in less than five minutes. They then ordered another and then a third and a fourth, finishing the lot in about 20 minutes without speaking a word to each other. All this time the twitcher carried on twitching at an even more alarming rate. Finally, having drunk roughly the equivalent of a bottle of scotch between them in under half an hour, they drove off into the night; the coffee addict driving and his friend sitting precariously on the petrol tank of the scooter.

I was rather glad we were walking home that evening and I think I’m beginning to see that the sheep are being rather sensible in keeping to the beach.



* Many thanks to Sascha at KRITIguide (http://www.kritiguide.com/paleochora) for permission to use her photograph when mine turned out to be a disaster.


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