Some Lazy Days
You cannot swarm out on every day when the weather is fine, the beach so comfortable and the books to read so amusing. I got another problem with my eye-glasses when I try to snorkel. At first I have no snorkel but one can stop to breathe. At second I have no diver eyeglasses, for they cannot be put over the bow of the usual eye-glass. I therefore have brought along swim-glasses with lenses made for short-sighted persons. There are so nice rocks and plants below the sea surface, let's explore if there are sea urchins too.
The first view is wonderfull, swarms of small fishes glide along and the ground and surrounding seems to be as near as the length of the arm. But then you must breathe and the second view is dull and the eyes start to burn. Of course the swim-glasses are full of water. And the further experiments turn out with the same result. And I get the laughter. (Of course someone had the advice to use contact lenses, but I have never tried it).
So something more is to be seen ashore. The couple from Hannover which arrived with us has a strange swimming practise. They look for a place at an outstanding cliff and then stand there with raised arms and the face towards the sun. Or they do some gymnastic exercises. So they will avoid the white skin at the inner side of their arms which one gets by the permanent reading activities.
Then there is a blond full bosomed young lady, who prefers to show herself at dinner time in most favourable clothes emphasizing her attractions. Now at the beach she plashes at the water or paddles on her air mattress, and when she falls off the mattress she yells like a little girl. She is admired by a middleaged individuum with a full beard, a boatsman's cap, red shirt and green waistcoat. He carries a book with him titled "The Monk".
Another girl of our hotel is black haired and has a very brown skin. But if one stands besides her, you must bend your neck to see her upper end. So we call her "The brown Tank".
Our conductor Stefanos comes up to collect the money for the sun shelter. He seems to be well mooded today for he only charges 1000 Drms instead of the usual 1400. "You understand, chief no control, no problem" he twinkles. We understand. But at the other days we payed 1500 in fact to purchase a little tip and so the total billance is even.
The weather is the same each day concerning the blue sky. But the winds change and sometimes the wind is so gusty that you better look for a calm place at the pool. Once I saw a small windhose sucking some gravel and disappearing to the landside. At those days the "All Inclusive Club" is less active too and the surf course "Stand upright at wind stagnation" cannot be absolved. Who dares to try a run in spite of the wind conditions mostly has to return wandering.
At the super market there is a 24 hours foto service. When a film is completed one can bring the film to the service and get the pictures in the afternoon of the next day. So at the end of our holidays we have all of our pictures at hand.
But you cannot spend all the time at the beach in correspondence to such a wonderful island. So we look for a car and have a visit to Jiannis near to our hotel where I hired the bike some days before. We ask the blond woman for her perfect German and hear her story. Rosi has come from Nürnberg and got to know Jiannis at about 1980. They met again during various holidays and some years long there was a gap. At the early 90s they said: "You are alone and me too, so let's do something". So Rosi left all her belongings at home and moved to Crete. The business is not easy and some seasons are hard. But it is OK and the result of all this goes to school already and just suffers from mumps.
We hire a car for three days and choose Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Saturday we visit the market at Ierapetra once more. At the main road we enter a cheque machine to get some money by Eurocard. Some persons are waiting already. The first couple has to leave off without success, may be their bank account is not sufficient. The next people already hear the rustle of the banknotes as a bunch of kids comes around the corner and excited stares at the automat. But we hear our inner alarm, it would be easy for the kids to perform a quick grasp and then disappear around the next corner. We only say "Police" and this helps, the kids prefer to run away and things go on without problems.
At the market we see two original figures but do not dare to take a photo. A poor woman and a man with open shirt showing his scarred breast. Perhaps a hero involved in a blood-revenge affair? We have read about this custom usual at Crete from former times until today. But later we realize they are simply beggars and the scarred breast is thought to awake sympathy.
At Sunday we get our hired car. It is a red Suzuki Maruti and we start towards the Lasithi Plateau, where there were 10.000 wind wheels in former times. Let's find out what remained.
I need some time to get used to the car, the traffic and the bends along the coast of the Bay of Mirabello. The junction for the Lasithi is at Neapolis, and then one has to climb to 900 m height. The road is very narrow and we wonder if busses could pass up here. The higher you climb the vegetation turns to become more beautiful. Nice little villages with black suited old men supported by their stick come together and discuss the problems of the universe. Once we see a dark black bearded original Cretan local, wearing boots, riding trousers a black shirt and a kerchif knotted around the head. Better not to meet such person in the dark - we think. Another peciularity of the Crete people is the use of a pearl-chains similar to a "Rosenkranz" which they permanently turn around their fingers, nobody knows why. At the roadside sometimes cheese, honey, raki, spices or fruits are sold. One person is disguised in the local costume and the tourists are requested to make a we-together-photo for an obulus.
So you gradually come up with nearly no traffic. Finally we pass the tree line and then reach the summit. We stop for a photo in front of a slope and I hope to find the reverse gear in time. The Lasithi Plateau is formed like a bowl surrounded by mountains and therefore protected from cold winds. And you should know it before: from the 10.000 wind wheels only some rotten ruins remained.
The main attraction seems to be the cave of Dikteon where they say the Godfather Zeus is born, but no one knows exactly. Therefore we resign to go there and turn to the main village Tzermiadon. There you see houses covered by carpets, blankets and "handmade" crochetware. So we park the car behind the next corner and walk along the village road. You will not wait for long before they shout at you: "Where are you from" "Just a moment" "Come in and look" "No problem". It is impossible to have an undisturbed look to the products for you must be careful not to be wrapped with the articles.
We let this "crochet-mafia" behind and prefer to admire the landscape again. For the return we choose the second of the two roads leading to the Lasithi. At the edge of the plane there are the rests of a row of wind-mills leading up a slope. Of course those have not been mills but pumps. The road down to Malia is wide and this is the route for the busses. The main traffic comes towards us and soon they will have their rush hour at the Lasithi. Now and then we stop for a view at the landscape and a photo and soon reach Malia.
We ride back to Nikolaos, now used to the car already, so let's quote the words of the service maid about the driving habits on Crete:
On Crete the German drives on the right like he is
the Englishman drives on the left like he is used to,
and the Crete drives in the midth, where he finds place.
So we arrange us with the local conditions. The next destination is the village Kritsa. The German word for Licorice is Lakritz so the name is easy to remember. Kritsa is said to be one of the most beautiful villages of Crete. May be because short before the village begins there is the famous Agios Georgios church. There are the best preserved fresco paintings. But "Photographs not allowed" and one should restrict to meditate about the coloured works of art.
We ride up to the village with a big parking site and one tourist bus only. At the village road we see the same scene as at the Lasithi: textile "handwork" everywhere and the sellers lure like the spiders in their nets. We just admire a big blue carpet and argue if this would suit into the room of our daughter Stefanie at home - as a resolute lady comes out of the shop, says "10.000 Drms" takes the carpet down from the wire and stuffs it into a big paper bag. We have not said any word yet as she pulls us into her shop. Now she writes on a paper: 8000 Drms. "You will not get this at a German super market for this price" Heidi says. Moreover we could pay by Visa-Card so I am convinced too. And our lady gets a dusty cheque-machine out of her desk and "ritch-ratch" the amount is booked, the 2000 Drms. dealed out as advantage are now added again as tax for the Visa-Card. I sign the receipt and now we have the carpet, the fun and this story!
We may leave the bag at the shop until we return from the walk around. We stumble through the narrow donkey-sized lanes. And there is another new observation. Some very old people sit at their front door and try to sell some tonsils ore simply stretch their open hand at you. And if you put a coin into it, you hear applause from a younger person inside the house. But what shall the people do if they have no shop or something else, not to be mere attractions in a zoo?
As the crowds from a bus come up the road we return to our shop and get the bag with the carpet. Let us tell in advance, that lateron the carpet fits to Stefanie's room very well, it will be a souvernir from a Crete village and paid by Visa-Card for ever...
We now enter the narrow lanes or stairs and soon we realize: a ghost town. Some few buildings are inhabited, the rest falls down to the ground. You cannot distinguish between human housings and the sheds of goats and from some dark dungeons twinkle the blank eyes of some goats as the new inhabitants. At one point the road is blocked by a fallen wall and must be bypassed by some other channels. We return to the church speechless.
But now we meet an inhabitant, who cuts spears of reed grass which grows at damp areas. The spears look like bambus rods and are used to produce sun shelters. Our accompanying lady speaks some Greek phrases and finds out, that some people of Italy and England try to buy and restaurate some estates here. But the local also says "Deutsch gutt!".
Now a small dog appears, a mixture of Chow Chow and Pekingese. He leads us to our car and starts to present some jokes, as to jump right up by all four of his paws or to stand upright and wave with the front paws. Unfortunately he is fully covered by ticks (Zecke), so its better to keep some distance. As we start he follws the car for a while but we think he is used to it.
We bring the car back to the Jiannis gang, I still must
price: one day 10.000 Drms., two 18.000 and three 25.000. The
are free but the tank should be filled when the car is delivered.