Saturday, 18 June 2011

Sostis the Fisherman

Last year I travelled to Greece with my husband, daughter and son-in-law and I expected to find a beautiful country full of ancient history and I did discover more beauty and more history than I ever imagined. But it was also the amazing people that we met with their stories and their love of food and life that I brought home.

On our first day sailing from Santorini our skipper Kostas steered us in the direction of another smaller volcanic island where we could moor for the night. There was a little bay where earlier we had seen an old man tending his goats on the island. After some waving and calling out hello the man did then get in his orange painted skiff and putter over to see us.  I expected a weathered old hermit but here he is - ageless, tanned, healthy, welcoming smiles wrinkling his face. He tells us that he will have fish tonight to bring to us.  "Efkaristo"! A bottle from our wine stash is grabbed and handed to Sostis as a show of thanks. On invitation we then board his orange painted skiff and motor over all together to Sostis' Island.  Sostis lives on his island, leaving behind his 'trouble with women - she tried to kill me' and lives now contendedly alone with his goats and chickens.
As we approach the tiny brick house he grins. I think that for a hermit Sostis actually loves company.  His command of English was gained while he worked and travelled as a sailor in the merchant navy many years ago. He now enjoys a simple life growing vegetables at the top of the volcano and casting his nets every night for small fish. ( I was told on more than one occasion that the tastiest sweetest fish are found in the Aegean because the rocks there harbour the best food for the fish.) Sostis milks his goats and makes fetta deliciously packed in olive oil in glazed terracotta pots kept in the cool at the back of his one room house.
Sostis's hospitality that afternoon of our visit extended to typically dryish but sweet tomatoes and cucumbers round and pale green that he sliced up with a very sharp knife and handed us along with chunks of his fetta in olive oil. Finally we were encouraged to try a liquor which was sweet and thick, slightly Marsala like. Here was a man who loved to talk and his stories were among many we were going to encounter from wonderful people we were to meet on our most wonderful adventure. I hope you enjoy my first Blog of many more to come!

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