Whoops, I started out so well, journaling the details of this trip, but something has happened and six days have passed. I will never catch up. OK, I’m over it. It never pays to beat yourself up over stuff like that.
Meteora was a fascinating trip. There can’t be rock formations like these anywhere else in the world, reaching straight up to the sky, hence the name Meteora. God took unique pleasure in forming this place, as he did so many other things he created–whenever I see a really funny fish or a funky plant, I think about the joy he had in creating it. I can imagine God laughing in exultation over each and every new design, saying, “It’s good!”
How wild to imagine these hermit monks who came to this place in central Greece seven hundred years ago, climbing with ropes to the high places, and building themselves nests where they might escape the world and seek God. And then the others who followed a few hundred years later, eventually building as many as twenty four independent monasteries perched in impossible places on the cliffs. I can understand the temptation to escape the messy life we live when we interact with people, but they’re another part of God’s creation, the crowning achievement of all his labor, and part of my growing up in all aspects into Christ is to live among people–working with them, caring for them, loving them, being hurt by them, misunderstanding them as I am also misunderstood by them. Yeah, it’s messy.
But it’s not for me to judge those saints of old….as hard as it is to understand them. They lived their lives in a different time, but I was born for such a time as this.
Driving through Greece turned out to be a blast. Greece is cool. I could live there. The navigation turned out to be easy….the road signs are mostly printed both in Greek and the English transliteration. On the way up, we were following the green route towards Lamia, then Karditsa, Trikala, and finally Kalambaka and Meteora. We drove through small villages in the mountains, a couple of gypsy camps (oh, I don’t want to live in a gypsy camp!).
We had gone to a nice coffeeshop in Athens the day before. It was a chain, looked a lot like a Starbucks, but when we went in and went up to the counter, they said, “Please sit down!” So we did, they brought us water like in a restaurant, a menu, and we ordered! (Cappuccino, of course!)
It was a great cappuccino, served in a heavy china cup and saucer, the way coffee OUGHT to be. We remarked on that, and how crass and American it was to gulp coffee from a paper cup.
Fast foward twenty four hours….we pulled into a gas station off the highway to Meteora, out in the middle of nowhere on a winding mountain road. An attendant came out to fill the tank (wow, remember that?) and I went inside to see if they had a restroom….I saw they had coffee and went up to order us both one.
The guy didn’t speak hardly any English, but when I asked for coffee, he said, “Please sit down!” It was kind of a grimy gas station, and we had a five hour drive, so I said, “No, I’d like to get them to go, please.” He looked at me with surprise, and said “To go?” He understood, though, shrugged his shoulders, and started making coffee.
After a few minutes, he handed me two tall paper cups, meant for sodas. I guess that’s what they had there. I looked around for a lid, and then asked the nice man–again, with some gesturing to get us through the language
barrier. He found some lids, but they were cold drink lids, with the “x” in the top for the straws. He stuck some straws through the lids, and I walked out to the car.
I handed Brian his coffee, he looked at it, and said, “I can’t drink coffee through a straw!” So he took the lid off, and sipped some, started the Opel, and left the parking lot. A few seconds later, we realized the rental car didn’t have drink holders!!!!! What kind of a car doesn’t have drink holders??????
We simultaneously realized how impossible it is to drink coffee from a cup with no lid and at the same time drive a standard transmission car through winding mountain roads when you don’t have a cup holder!!! As we laughed hysterically, drinking the really bad gas station coffee, we decided it was probably only Americans who insisted their cars be manufactured with built in cup holders, because we are the only culture crazy enough to put coffee in a paper cup and try to drink it and drive at the same time. We were both embarrassed when we realized how quickly we had forgot yesterday’s resolve to slow down, enjoy life, and take time to drink good coffee from nice china cups. We wondered about the guy at the gas station, and the good laugh he and the Greeks there drinking coffee must be having at our expense–oh well, we deserved it!