Drinks figured fairly high on my travels. Drinks like nectar and some . . .
Wine has top place I guess, as soon as I left these shores in the 60s wine was featured. In Greece we tried treading them, not the most pleasant experience and only put on for the tourists - we hoped anyway. 'Tis a squishy squashy sensation under the toes.
I came to know vineyards well on my travels, being invited to view them in Yugoslavia. Working on them in Australia, going on tours. Grapes are not just for pressing they are for drinking but first they must be picked and brewed. I have done my share of grape picking as well, in Australia, where for two summers I picked as a second job after working night shifts in the local fruit canning factory. I would be picked up at silly o’clock in the morning by a Greek and driven to the fields where we picked in the increasing heat until mid-day when we would be deposited back in time for a clean up, quick lunch, and back in the factory by 3.00pm. As that shift finished at two in the morning and a shower was essential before bed, it meant short nights and extremely long days.
I discovered then that a large tin mug full of wine drank - not sipped - before bed would send me to sleep immediately, but much more to the point, wake me up with a bursting bladder a few hours later in time for the grapes. I had palled up with a French lady and we picked together. One morning the other grape pickers never turned up and so we were left to pick alone. He had obviously tried to find help but it was harvest time and had came up with nothing.
Usually the pickers would put the grapes on a tarpaulin on the ground and a tractor would come round, and the tarpaulins picked up and the contents hurled into the back of the trailer. This was the problem that day. No tractor driver, three tons of grapes on tarpaulins.
Could one of us drive the drive the tractor?
While the other helped him load the grapes.
My friend only had one lung so it was decided she would drive;I would flex my young unused muscles and load.
I wasn’t sure it was do-able but we did it.
My shoulder muscles were like concrete the next day.
I hadn’t realised fully just how much three tons weighed!!
Then there was that time in Gorome, Turkey, when another party I was travelling with decided to camp in the caves. We settled down for a sing song and a couple of bottles of wine. Three local youths wandered up with some wine and asked if they could join us. They sang wonderful, soulful Turkish songs and joined in our renderings. Then when we bade them goodnight they tuned nasty and said as they had brought wine and song it was selfish not to share the women.
Share the women?
We had not realised (this is back in the 70s remember) the fierce restriction of women in these countries. We had covered up when visiting holy places, worn long skirts and scarves. Unmarried women traveling with non family members were obviously prostitutes and the young men with us (barely more than boys I may add we were all young) were our pimps. Nasty situation. Our guests produced knives.
Wine = women, it was simple for them.
Our men stood guard all night as the disgruntled visitors roamed around outside the cave entrance. We were dead impressed with our travelling companions, it must have been very scary indeed to be faced with knives when unarmed oneself.
Another alcoholic encounter on my travels had a better ending. The first trip I made to Iran we were on the road to some obscure village, we hoped to get to the village in time to buy food supplies for supper. The road followed a nice straight line - across the map - but in reality it tapered away in the middle of the desert. Leaving us stranded at night in the middle of velvet blackness and desert.
One night with food is no bother, but we knew how far back the last village had been. We were in for a day at least before we ate again.
Early in the morning we were woken by a horn and a friendly laughing Iranian. Head of the road build crew. Our lights had been reported to him and he was on his white charger - actually a flash white Cadillac type car, how it could be driven across the desert we didn’t know. He was all smiles, apologies for the unfinished road and offering his escort to the next village and next road. No trouble, really no trouble. Then on hearing we had no breakfast opened the boot and out of a fridge offered us all, ice cold beer. The strangest breakfast I had had up until then. I am not a beer drinker but that can was nectar.
While in Iran we had another encounter with drink, this time with fizzy soft drinks. We had stocked up for a two day desert crossing with an assortment of these bottled drinks. The crates were stacked inside the Land Rover and we set of into the shimmering heat. We knew we couldn’t keep them cold for long what we hadn’t considered was how awful they would taste hot. The temperature grew increasingly unpleasant, way above anything we had ever experienced. We drank the drinks hot because it was liquid and we needed that more than anything.
Then of course there was the road. I call it a road - it was on the map as an unmade road, so we were not fooled this time, however it was a shaky bumpy ride. The inevitable happened fizzy drinks when shaken. . .!!
So they had to go in the back to avoid injury from the explosions, we made it to our destination having just enough drink left after the explosions, to drink. Took me a long time before I could look fizzy drink in the eye again.
One last memory. Ouzo the drink of the Greeks, stored in a plastic water canteen will leave the flavour of the drink for many a week. Ouzo flavoured water is really rather nice:)
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