Take my hand – let`s walk.
Shepherding us clear of tourist boroughs and bogus features which populate softer, conquered coastlines, come, let`s forge acquaintance with true Crete.
Down shady alleys with cobbled ground, aside tumbled walls, empty homes and defiant arches, dressed splendidly in blazing colour, amidst lifetime’s regalia, discarded, but doubtless valueable to holders` eyes. A thousand scents storm faculties – fragile chamomile, robust thyme and sage, enduring rigani. Open abodes, emit fragrant fare, simmering within. An elderly, encarcerated to the old iron bedstead, face drawn thin and milky pale, to match bed sheets. A time worn face, bearing toothy beam, bids “καλημέρα!” genuinely meaning just that, “good day!” A paper-thin skinned hand profers ripened grapes, cherry red tomatoes, fragrant and pure – the rule of generosity, undefined in our world, but law in theirs.
Rustic, leafy tracks, snake temptingly out of sight, inviting legwork exploration of nature and man`s handiwork, where chance meetings occur with flinty Cretans laboring over the day `s manual task. Cool spring water drawn from some fathomless well, sating thirst, like blissful wine.
Inviting the Meltemi breeze to caress perspired bodies, affording modicum relief from the persisent, Cretan Summer fieriness. To dally in acqua, Libyan surf, gloriously clad with a million diamonds, riding the rocking sea, akin to baby and crib.
We pick fresh, ripe, syrupy figs, feasting on them, there and then, sweet, ambrosial and warm from the sun. To seek shade beneath a generous tree, where cold beverages draw relaxed conversation and carefree laughter. Observing elder Cretans` heated, political debates in dim Kafeneons, where coffee`s broody aroma, kindles appetite.
Closing the mind to pre-conceived beliefs of how true food tastes and sampling snail or octopus, or whatever other delightful, diverse fare is presented.
Cretan ladies, bearing bowls of food, traipse to closeby houses, where surely, aged relatives reside, unable to tend their own needs, the dish of the day is delivered, not from obligation, but duty, to care for loved ones in their latter years.
Drawing in deeply, the delicate orange blossom perfume, leaves senses giddy in overindulgence. The perfect, star-shaped blossom of the olive, strewn to the ground, triggers remorse on treading them. The delightful quelsh of grapes being trod by bare foot, the heady scent of sweet, sweet grape must, pervading the air. The sun`s heat, leeching the distinctive perfume of fig, walnut and pine tree from their leaves, creates calm, serenity in mind.
The outsider, whom feels it`s pull, like some invisible magnet, adoring it`s atmosphere, it`s character, is rarely able to capture it`s true essence – it`s true backbone, but remains captivated, confused, under the influence of this island.
This race, by title Cretan, rather than Greek – proud, innovative, loud and passionate – at one with the island. The island, at one with it`s people. The one without the other would be senseless, illogical. Oblivious to the marvels they live amongst, careless of it`s beauty, few, acknowledge the bounty of this haven called Crete.