I’ve been dreaming of visiting Crete for years. Those dreams kept me going through months of planning and waiting for this trip to come about.
We landed here five days ago. The weather was sweltering. It was another long travel day for all of us. After a four-hour flight, it took two hours to get the rental car, and another hour and a half to make it to our small hotel. We were all exhausted and cranky, and I found myself questioning why in the hell we decided to do this.
I think I expected to step off the plane and be hit with a feeling of arrival. This is kind of how I feel when I visit Maui, or when I walk out of the airport in San Diego. In their own way, those places feel like little slices of home from the moment I get there.
I didn’t have that feeling at all. I felt hot, uncomfortable, and completely out of place. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been in a non-English speaking country, and me and my fair-skinned crew are pretty damn conspicuous here among all these bronzed men and women.
I awoke the next day feeling disappointed. Maybe Crete wouldn’t be what I’d imagined at all.
After breakfast, I walked back to our hotel room to meditate and try to regain my center. I sat outside, flicking the occasional fly or ant away from my legs. The buzz of the cicadas rose and fell in waves. The heat rolled over me in waves, too, even in the shade.
Suddenly, everything seemed to be an invitation to slow down and avoid placing limits on my experience. This adventure will be what it will be, I realized. All I have to do is decide how I want to view it. And right then, something shifted.
That was four days ago. It’s gotten even hotter. I still feel conspicuous here. But I also feel very much at peace, and I definitely have crossed the vacation threshold.
The food is incredible, and so is the wine. Everyone we’ve met has been gracious and so kind to the kids.
We’ve been wine tasting and to the beach. Yesterday Tom took the kids to a local aquarium and I got to check off a major bucket list item – visiting the Heraklion Archeological Museum, home to a huge collection of Minoan art and many artifacts related to goddess worship, items I’ve been looking at in books for years (more on this later). I still can’t believe I’m here. It’s surreal.
Today we visited a Cretan farm. It was 41 degrees Celsius when we arrived at 9:30 a.m. – that’s 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
I watched my kids ride a donkey, milk a goat and feed a cow. Later, we sat down to a huge Greek spread of food, and the kids helped make little cheese pies drizzled with honey.
Our hosts, Michaelis and Velina, were amazing. After lunch, they served us their Cretan version of a B-52 shot, made with homemade raki (an unbelievably strong liquor) and carob syrup from their trees. Michaelis told us that sharing food and drink with new friends is one of the great pleasures of life. He is right, of course.
I'm pretty lucky that this trip hasn't matched my expectations. Turns out I was aiming a little too low.