We’ve just finished the most fabulous dinner prepared by the wife of our host in Corinth: eggplant salad, fava bean salad, stuffed peppers, stuffed zucchini, pork and mushrooms over homemade fettucine noodles of the perfect thickness and tasting of the perfect amount of egg. I shouldn’t have eaten the chocolate cake that oozed liqueur when pressed with the fork, and melded perfectly with the ice cream, but it was too late — I was committed.
“Is now a good time to go for a swim?” I ask our host, Christo, longing to stretch my limbs and work off some of the food sitting in my belly. Christo is the owner of the VRBO we’ve rented for our short stay in Corinth. He’s the epitome of a my imagined and longed for Greek encounters. He’s worldly, charming, funny, talkative, full of stories and constantly pushing more wine and after dinner “digestivos” into our hands. The digestivo is an amazingly good after dinner drink poured over ice. It smells a bit like gin and is crisp and light when it hits the tongue.
“No,” says Christo. “Tomorrow. Today it is dirty. We had flooding and all the water runs the garbage into the river and into the bay so it is dirty.”
I take a walk around the property instead, trying to lessen my discomfort and guilt for the excess of bread, wine, and stuffed vegetables. I was ready to stop eating a plateful prior to when I did, but Christo’s wife, Anastacia, is concerned I didn’t realize the eggplant salad — which looks a lot like hummus but tastes amazingly better — can be spread on bread. She breaks off a piece of bread, slathers it in the eggplant, and holds it to my mouth for me to eat from her fingers. Of course, I do exactly that. This is the same woman who hugged me at least a half a dozen times within the first few moments of meeting her, and she has cooked us a beautiful meal which she served to us on a private patio overlooking Corinth Bay. The waves are lapping at the sand just feet away from our table on the veranda, a soft breeze is blowing, and our view is breathtaking. Out of fear of offending our hostess and cook, I loaded up my plate with more of everything and proceeded to eat it all, but I’m sweetly suffering for it now.
After a large sip of the digestivo, I stroll the yard, play with Christo’s two collies that I’ve convinced him to let loose in the yard with me, then slip out the gate to the beach to stand on one of the small cement jetties extending out from in front of Christo’s house to take in the beauty surrounding us. This is Corinth — a city with a history that spans thousands of years. The mountains jutting up from the waters of the bay have witnessed this land be conquered and occupied, conquered and occupied, conquered and occupied time and time again. It is truly awesome to see, and stand in the midst of, for a short while.
The sun is setting as I stand on the dock of this ancient bay, and as I watch a few heavy steel cargo ships float in the distance, making their slow journey toward the city, I imagine what it felt like to stand here and watch a thousand wooden ships filled with men, weapons, and horses coming ever closer. The ships are silent on the water, and the night sky is streaked with brilliant hues of purple and red from the sinking sun, making the scene beautiful and serene. How mocking and bitter the undeniable beauty must have felt when the filled with invading fleets floating serenely on the water with the most malicious of intents.
I muse and bask in the wonder of standing in a place that has seen so much history and change, then wander back to the dining table on the deck and indulge in another digestivo with our host, feeling contentedly full — full with good food, good wine, and good conversations with good friends both old and new.