The term breathtaking is silly.
It’s a cliché, for one, and we all know I never used clichés. Secondly, it’s a hyperbole. And let me tell you, hyperboles make me so angry steam comes out of my ears.
So Matala was not breathtaking.
It was not awe inspiring.
It was not a place that evoked feelings of a presence of a great creator and benefactor to mankind and the blue planet from the sheer atmosphere of the location.
It was none of these things since ordinary hyperboles and allusions and similes cannot be applied. Literary references and multi-syllabic synonyms for colors are useless. Not that I’d ever do that. This was a place so strikingly beautiful I’ve feared writing about it becasue I know my pictures and words will not do it justice. I mean, I’ve been to a lot of nice beaches. Beaches you wish you’ve been to.
But Matala was something absurdly special.
Nestled behind yellow hills dotted with coniferous trees and shrubs, one wouldn’t realize the place was there if it weren’t for the road signs.
Stepping on to the beach the sand was incredibly hot. Not like the black sand of Hawaii; more gray and grainy, but hot nonetheless. Jumping and exhaling in multiple short, ‘ah,’ breaths as I found my sandals again, the most distinctive feature of the beach loomed in view. On the west end of the beach a Brobdingnagian sized slab of slanted sandstone sat sinking serenely into a severly transparent sea. Along this monolithic mountainous mass were the darkened dots of cavernous crypts carved into the cliffs.
And Sally sells seashells by the sea shore.
I was torn upon sight of all this. I wanted to swim. But I wanted to climb. I wanted to climb more. I nearly ran to sandstone and climbed all over it until my feet burned. Luckily it was not as sharp as the rocks in Thailand from which I still bear the scars of the flesh in my feet and the embarrassment in my mind.
Afterwards, I felt a I deserved a good swim and a sleep on the beach. The water was cool, cold and clear and most utterly refreshing. Towards the water, the sand grains grew gradually greater in size, and brighter in color. Where water met the beach, pebbles of orange and grey and black and white and brown and red and green all tumbled smooth and shiny from the embrace of the lapping waves; dissipating bubbled barricading the crescent of land from the ellipse of blue.
It was like walking on stale jelly beans.
I swam, jumped off some rocks, collected some stones from the beach and looked around. There were families, couples, young nomads, and beautiful topless women. Hippies sold beaded necklaces in a silent homage to Cat Stevens and Janis Joplin who came here before them. A wall to the east had the words, “tomorrow never comes. Today is Life,” painted in unabashed defiance of time. I passed out in the hot sand, my feet cooled by the tide.
When I awoke, I decided I’d had entirely too much sun and it was time for a beer. For all the beauty I’d just taken in, the service at the little place on the corner really mucked it up. Not like I was in a hurry or anything, but an empty beer glass is like a guitar without strings.
I walked around the town a bit and pondered whether or not I would sleep in the car.
Once again, I realized I had not eaten all day.
My journey in Crete had just begun.