Monday, June 8, 2015

Day 12: Greek Island Home

Today, I stopped. I didn't jump on and off a train, a bus or plane. I just stopped moving. I woke up at 8am, rolled out of bed and knew I had to walk to town to get some food. Last night was Sunday evening, no one was open.

But I know that Europe doesn't usually open until 9ish. So I was slow with my roll and just threw on some shorts and a t-shirt and walked to town. That sounds like a lot "walking to town". But it's literally a 15-20mins only because it's up and down hilly, stony streets. If I were in better shape, it would be 10minutes. 

I wandered around, found the "Apotheke" bought sunblock-seems too late for my arms though. As I walked up the Main Street, at 9am, it was still empty. The restaurants are all outside so I couldn't tell who was open or not. 

I walked to the very end of town and when I turned back, there were a few more people and signs of life appeared at some of the cafes.

There was one café who had a pretty banner extolling breakfast, "omelette, toast, coffee" there was a beautiful photo of a perfect sunny side up egg on a brown piece of toast. As I approached, the lone figure sitting on a table having a coffee stood up, he was the employee.

I asked for breakfast and he spoke English and apologized:

"No breakfast, we are waiting."

Ah, the bane of island living. The weekend had just passed and obviously, they were probably cleaned out and needed a delivery from the mainland.

He continued, "I can offer sandwiches and crepes."

"What kind of sandwiches?" I asked.

He looked at me uncertain, I think at that point his English deserted him. So I asked about crepes.

He asked me what kind I wanted, I wanted strawberries, he smiled sadly, shook his head and looked towards the dock. Understanding flooded me.

All he had was crepes and ice cream. This was gonna be one hell of a breakfast. After all his hard work, I, being the kind hearted soul that I am, stayed and order crepes and ice cream. 

Then he asked. "What kind?"

Decisions, decisions! He was proud to show me his ice cream, so I picked pistachio knowing this island is known for its pistachios. Then he asked how did I want my crepe? I had no idea, I figured you just rolled up crepes, maybe a dash of cheese in the middle and dribbled strawberries but since he didn't have any strawberries, I had no answer for him. Instead I smiled and told him, "I leave it to you, make it the best way." He smiled and nodded then added, "It will be very sweet." I smiled and nodded, he said chocolate, I was in for a treat.

Seriously, I just wanted a coffee with cream, simple. Nope, not here in Europe, coffee is never simple. He asked me how I wanted my coffee, he reeled off some things and I had no clue. I heard expresso and I wasn't ready for that. Then I asked for a cappuccino. Then he asked hot or cold. I damn near burst out laughing, it was too early! But my eyes lit up with the idea of a cold coffee & he made it.

He was right, it was very sweet, but I first ate the crepe with the coffee hoping the coffee would cut the edge off the sweetness of the Nutella. The version of Nutella they have in Europe is unlike the kind we have in the U.S. There is no corn syrup and no GMO in any of their food. I could eat Nutella with a spoon here!

When I tried the pistachio ice cream, I found that it wasn't as sweet as the Nutella so I tried the ice cream with the crepe and it was like hand and glove! The ice cream was the perfect complement to the Nutella. Heaven was made.

I complimented him heartily and I could tell it made him happy. He told me where the baker was and off I went with a full stomach to go and fill my refrigerator.

I found the bakery tucked back against the street, hidden by another shop's t-shirts and what-nots. But the bakery was full of bread and some sweet rolls. But after having been defeated by the Nutella, I asked for regular bread. Then the baker spread her arms and said, "what kind of bread?"

Some people could have taken it snottily, I never do. Chagrined I smiled, "what's the best bread?"

She countered. "They are all the best!" She said proudly. My smile got bigger because finally someone who was proud of her work. With that, I knew she had been up early making her bread, some bread were still peeking from the oven door.

Then she pointed at the shelves behind her, "There is village bread, black bread, white bread, whatever you want." 

I thought for half a second "I want village bread." I said confidently.

"With sesame?" She asked. More decisions.

"Yes." I said. She nodded her approval and wrapped up my bread in paper and gave me a bag to carry it with. I walked away proud that I had done such a simple thing as picked out a bread! 

I was literally bouncing in the morning sun. Then I saw a souvenir place, I just buy postcards, stamps and mail them immediately. That's what was social media back then. A tradition that is quaint in the face of instantaneous updates and tweets. But my mom collects stamps and this was one way for her to get stamps and photos.

Then I stepped into the grocery store. Another old man was manning it, he walked with such a stoop that I decided against deli cheese until another time. He was very precise with his movements, scanning what could be scanned. Then when he totaled everything, he counted every item out in English, looked at his screen and gave me the thumbs up and smiled proudly.

He didn't speak English, but he could count to ten in it! Bravo for him, I didn't even know how to thank him in Greek! Instead after he gave me my change, he reach out both hands to grab my hand and shook it warmly. His gnarled hand covered my hand and he was so happy to see me.

Now, my imagination told me that he had probably been chewed out by someone about not scanning all the products being bought so he was now being very careful to get everything right. That's just me, making up stories based on silly observations and my gut instinct. 

I walked back throw the cobbled stony streets and carried my things back to the house. I put them away and basically sat in the patio doing nothing. I chatted on Facebook, Twitter and FaceTime. That was about it. 

This "doing nothing" is what a vacation is supposed to be! So I did the one thing I rarely do on vacation, I relaxed. I walked to the beach, stuck my feet in, it was very cold. I watched the fishes in the water okay, listened to the breeze and breathed deep.

My "beach" is more of a rocky cove, actually two rocky coves. My last action was to stand on the outcropping and watch the shadows gather along the cliffs and change the bright waters to a darkening hue.

I stood with my feet apart, held my chin high and closed my eyes. I listened to the surf, the two coves sounded like voices having an indistinct conversation. But then a wind came up, stirred the trees up into a chorus in reply to the surf. 

I can't believe it's the end of the twelfth day already.

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