“I. . .I don’t know where I’m going.”
“Do you want to go to Rethymnon?” asked one.
“It’s really cool,” chimed in the other.
I really had nothing planned other than getting a beer at the next tavern I saw and figuring out where to go from there. I looked at the gleaming smiles at my window and then back at my car.
It was a mess.
It was full of empty bottles and socks and cables and iPods and camera batteries and various stringed instruments .
These girls were in a tight spot: Rethymnon was nearly an hour away by car. It could also ruin my day. I looked forward, then back at them. Then again. . .
“Fuck it,” I said unbuckling my belt. “I got nothing better to do. Lemme clean out the car.”
“Yay!” was their combined response
They happily climbed in. We started chatting immediately.
“So what are you doing in Greece” they asked.
“Well, Iwas just in seeing my girlfriend in Munich, and Turkey before that. She couldn’t come along to Greece, but I had the tickets and everything, so here I am.”
I was happy to talk to anyone after the solo roadtrip, but these chicks were actually very cool. Zeta, from New Zealand, had dark, shiny hair and piercing black eyes to match. She said she was a professional traveler. Iris, had self proclaimed (and rightly so) great legs, a pierced septum and eyes like mosaics. She was from Tasmania, but had been teaching English in Spain for a few months and had traveled all over Europe. They had met in Santorini a week ago and had met up in Crete somewhat by chance a few days apart.
It seemed, however, that they had been lifetime friends.
I joked about how they were my first hitchhikers ever and I would appreciate it if they didn’t chop me up into little pieces. and put be in a bag. They laughed, and retorted that they would prefer if I didn’t rape them. Such salacious and distasteful humour served to dissolve the delicacy of the situation. Once we established that we were not killers and rapists, but just some young attractive itinerants, we pretty much talked the whole hour or so back, getting along like TCP/IP and DHCP.
The girls were sunbathing getting free drinks from a bartender at one of the little huts. that sat at the foot of the cliff. I had left my wallet in the car so I did not venture into the bars and did not even see these ladies down at the beach. They had a bus back at 5:30 PM but had missed it. The Bartender had offered them a ride home, but apparently creeped them out, so they got out of his car. Then they got in a car with a family, that took them to the top of the hill where I picked them up.
“What? I’m not that creepy?” I joked to Iris through the rearview mirror.
“No, When you said you didn’t know where you were going, that was the perfect answer,” she replied.
“Mentioning your girlfriend was a plus,” confided Zeta
“My cunning plan is all going accordingly,” hissed the InMo while he twiddled his moustache.
“You’ve really made yourself at home in this car, huh?” quipped Iris looking about at the relative mess that still remained.
There was never a lull in the conversation. I dodged about the topic of work, because I knew that’d just take over the dialogue, but it did come up. So I told them I live in Africa.
Very excited at the topic of Sudan, Iris spoke of her experiences teaching Sudanese refugees in Tasmania, how so many needed to know the basics of surviving a winter and requiring some the basic necessities of life, detailing the involvement as one of the most fulfilling exploits of her adult life. I tried to come up with something equally as moving, but instead blurted out, “I’m just doing it for the money.”
Half anticipating a scoff in disgust, the girls just laughed and we continued chatting.
We arrived in Rethymnon with no idea where to go, but through my innate sense of direction and a little help from the ladies I led us directly to the neighborhood of the hostel. Zeta and Iris asked me to come stay at the hostel, saying it was full of great people.
I wasn’t sure.
Wasn’t there more that I wanted to do?
I parked the car on the sidewalk and walked with them. I realized about halfway to the hostel that I’d left my wallet in the car and and I still was not wearing shoes. I found five Euro randomly in my pocket and bought some sandals for €4.90 at Zeta’s recommendation.
Iris bought me a gyro as thanks and they promised me beer. I tried to refuse their hospitality, but it was impossible. I think they were just so happy that they managed to get back to their temporary home safe and sound. We had some beers, I checked in and moved the car, only to return to a few more people hanging out. Bogan was American born and Australian raised, had a Vincent Chase haircut, and came to the hostel some time back and never left. He was working there in the mornings and spending his afternoon at the beach. Tsloui showed up and we immediately hit it off cause she was a born and raised Yank. She had big greenish eyes, curly hair and had just graduated from a prestigious college in Virginia. She was on her post-graduation-Europe-backpacking-adventure. Later on that evening, we were joined by Mandy, an Australian traveler with a movie-star smile and meticulously tied back, deep blonde hair.
In retrospect, it was quite amazing. The six of us strangers in a strange place joined by the common bond of adventure and—if may say so—being incredibly cool. Besides the fact that we were all essentially lone wanderers, I don’t know if we really had all that much in common. The group of us together formed something greater than our inconsequential differences for the few hours we chatted from dusk into the night. Maybe it was the beer. Maybe it was the premature trust between Iris, Zeta, and I from sharing a road trip. I don’t quite know what it was, but that evening we had a bond that made us all inseparable; it was as if we were all as close as friends could get. We covered in great detail many aspects of wandering, traveling, sex, music, family, life, love, happiness, sex, cultural differences, international vocabulary, and we laughed and laughed and laughed.
We closed the hostel and decided to go to the beach since we were apparently being too noisy. On the way we stopped at a kiosk and got some beers and a snickers bar or two. Bogan and I chatted up a few girls we met there. Zeta and Iris had said that Bogan was a drinker. I took it upon myself to represent America, just to prove we weren’t a bunch of sissies who picked on Islamic nations, but rather a bunch of sissies who can drink and pick on nations whose armies we used to fund.
I bought some beer, he bought some beer.
“I got five,” I announced.
“I got four,” he countered. “Is that gonna be enough?”
I dug in my bathing suit pocket and turned around. “Now I got nine. It’s on.”
Beers in bags, Zeta, Iris, Tsloui, Mandy, Bogan and I arrived at a sandy beach, found some chairs and just chilled. The Australians made fun of New Zealanders for being Sheep shaggers. Everyone made fun of the Americans.
Wisps of clouds moved across the star-pierced sky.
Bogan tackled an light post to the ground that was just a little too bright.
Our circle of lounge chairs was like our new found friendship: it was haphazard, ephemeral and impromptu, but it served its purpose well for the time being. For that moment, it didn’t matter who were were or where we were from unless someone was taking the piss. We were bound by the common effects of solo wayfaring and for one night we were allowed to forget that we were alone.
Rather suddenly, one of the girls decided it was time for a night swim. Off went shirts, off went shorts, off went tops, off went bottoms and we were all running naked to were the water enclasped the land in frequent lashes.
It was beautiful.
The moment itself was.
Well, at least in retrospect. At the time it was definitely, ‘holy crap there are hot naked chicks everywhere!’ but looking back it was the ambiance of freedom, blithe, and youthful indifference to prurience that made everything so captivating, thoroughgoing, and exceptional.
Blithe and stuff.
The water was warmer than the air above it and we lingered among the waves for some time, though I cannot recall entirely what all was discussed. We slowly made our way back to the beach chairs and donned the fabric that separates us from the other animals and shields us from the weather. We shivered in the cool night air, shooting the shit and sharing stories. We only lingered as a group a little afterward, drinking beer and telling jokes until Iris and Mandy decided to call it a night.
After such an event, it seemed we all knew tomorrow would not be the same between us, that nothing ever could be; we’d had that instant where different worlds collided and so many individuals had a short consequence of juvenescence and exuberance; such contentment that can only occur in bursts of spontaneity and cannot be replicated.
Zeta, Bogan, Tsloui, and myself remained deep into the morning, Zeta and Tsloui curled up in their respective chairs, Bogan and I smoking cigarettes, all of us enjoying what was left of the evening.
We left the beach and wandered back to the hostel, but stopped to get sandwiches. I felt like I was back in college. I said goodnight to them all, fell into my bottom bunk with my arms folded behind my head and studied the boards supporting the mattress.
When we arrived in Rethymnon earlier that day, Zeta and Iris made it explicitly clear that I had saved them when I picked them up; if not from creepy Greek guys, but from ruining what was otherwise a spectacular day.
They said I was their night in shining armor.
At the time I shrugged it off as nothing saying, “actually, I was more like a night in tiny Honda.”
Still, in the stupor of the gloaming, I told them both, that in fact, the rescue was mutual.