Taking advantage of our indecision at the small road junction, he stepped into the road. He stood blocking our way, kneecaps on our bumper. Wizened, wiry, deeply tanned, he sucked air through missing teeth gaps whilst his brown eyes scrutinized us over the top of ancient golden wire rimmed round glasses. His face wrinkled, weather beaten and lined, the product of years out in mountain fields. Old, well-worn and patched trousers held up with a cracked leather belt, a light blue shirt rolled up at the sleeves. Clearly we were a novelty, something unusual, out of place, an unusual phenomenon penetrating the sleepy monotony of another sunny afternoon siesta high in the remote mountain interior. We stared back, unsure how to proceed, our way blocked by a septuagenarian Sicilian of the hills. A Sicilian stand-off. “You did lock us in darling, didn’t you?” whispered a hushed ,small voice in my ear.
Then, suddenly, as always has been the case everywhere we have gone in Sicily, a huge smile broke out on the leathery face and arms were thrown wide in welcome. We had passed muster, our village sentry was a happy man. Waved on, we parked up in a sunlit village piazza lined with mulberry trees under which in the cool shade, residents sat, chatting. Smiles, the odd wave and nodded greeting. We were invited to see the geological museum. Although closed for the afternoon siesta, they were happy to open it. There would be no charge. "Prego, prego". Welcome.
"Had we visited the Cliffside necropolis?” “Would we like a guide or just see it ourselves?” It would be no trouble either way. “Had we eaten, would we like some mineral water?” “Did we know Wolverhampton in England?” The family had a home there and occasionally visited it. “Feel free to wander; any questions, please come and ask”. We were the only visitors so far, and “if we could be so kind, please sign the visitors’ book on the way out”, if we have time and it was not delaying us on our travels.