When I woke up my bed was sandy.
The snickers bar in my pocket was melted.
Mandy was was getting dressed. The morning sun poured onto my face and I must’ve groaned. She looked my way as she buckled up her belt and she caught my sore bloodshot eyes. She smiled, walked over, and dropped me a note with her email address and instructions to make sure all the other folks got it. She was surprisingly chipper, but I caught just a hint of sheepishness. I managed a grin and made a few jokes to put her at ease, but a little tension over the previous night still hung the air.
It was co-ed hostel.
I drank a lot of water, got a hair of the dog and tried not to forget the naked women. One by one they stopped by and said hello, most of them perfectly normal about the craziness that occurred. Tsloui stopped in for a little bit. I said good morning, we chatted, and with a see you later, she was gone.
I was catching up on some writing and ended up sitting and chatting with Zeta and Iris.
Iris and I decided it was time for breakfast.
But where shall we go? She answered, ‘Maccas,’ which was apparently the Aussie word for Mickey D’s.
That makes time number cinco for the trip.
Nuggets and a coke, and I was feeling better, Iris got a big mac. There’s something mystifyingly wonderful about watching a pretty girl eat an enormous sandwich. We got a to-go cheeseburger for Bogan, and returned to the hostel.
I had to be in Heraklion at 9PM for the ferry, but that meant I had the whole day. I pretty much just spent it lazing about and chatting with my new friends and the random people at the hostel. I met a new lady, Croussie, who was half Croatian, half Australian. A college student traveling for a semester, she had the air of a hippie, but the sensibility of a professional. I liked her right away. Bogan, Croussie, Iris, and Zeta and I all chilled out, shooting the shit, until Iris went off to Knossus, and that was the last I saw of her.
Croussie and I went to the Fort at Rethymnon and were apathetic at best. It was ungodly hot and there really wasn’t that much to see. Walking about, we talked about our families, where we had been in the world and where we would like to go. We got into discussion on whether or not animals are self-aware. I motioned that a dog’s internal monologue consisted of:
chew on things.
make master happy.
perhaps eat poop.
“Hey! Aside from that last one, all that kinda sounds like me!”
Shut up, InMo.
Croussie believed that animals were conscious beings citing dolphin’s communication abilities. I countered, saying that communication did not beget cognizance, but it was the strive for something more than survival that separated man from beast. I made a joke about how tasty dolphin is.
Croussie said she was a vegetarian.
So that discussion moved forth into the nature of humanity and religious fanaticism.
And then to gyros. Yes, apparently there is such thing as a vegetarian Gyro.
Returning to the hostel I still had a few hours before I needed to leave. Zeta was hanging about and asked if I still had the car.
“I hope it’s still there,” I replied, only half joking.
“Let’s do a road trip or something,” offered Zeta.
“Let’s go to a beach,” added Croussie.
We changed, and set out to the car. It took me a moment to find the keys. It was still there. We set out east and found that the sandy beach or Rethymnon extended for miles and was just one big long beach.
The water was warm on the north coast, but still clear, the seabed rocky. We floated about and discussed movies until we went back to the beach to lay in the sun and talked about long distance relationships, and the jobs we’d had. Being that I was the old working stiff of the three of us I shied away from that conversation. What Am I supposed to tell these beautiful, young, free souls who’ve spent their youth unencumbered by employment? That I had my first job when I was 14? That I’d been working since then? And that in the past 11 years or so I’ve had some 15 jobs?
I left it in silence.
For despite our relative age difference and lifestyles, we were equals for that day. Regardless of the similarities we had, we were so different: the hard-nosed, avaricious, corporate war-profiteer, the amateur photographer/professional traveler, and the college student who took some time off. But that afternoon, we were peers just enjoying the sun and clear water of Crete’s central north coast
When it was time to leave, I stood up slowly, packed my things into my bag. Before I picked up my bag, I stretched, grunted, and gazed out on the shimmering briny expanse that stretched to the horizon.
“I don’t want to leave,” I sighed out loud, as if to audibly counter my impending departure.
“So don’t,” stated Zeta with the seriousness of a surgeon.
I looked at her smile, and chuckled, turning to back towards land. Her nonchalance was cheerily enchanting. ‘I don’t want to not be on vacation anymore, so I am going to stay on vacation,’ was not something I had remotely considered as a viable option, but it was for Zeta. For a moment I envied her disenthrallment, begrudging her privileged freedom from the world I knew. To just go somewhere with no responsibility or motive or reason other than a mysterious inherent desire was something I knew not, but desperately wanted.
Climbing into the Clown Car, I remembered the shoook-click of the imprint machine at Motor Club Rental and the bill I’d have after this adventure. I remembered why I was not free to stay, but realized that I was also the one with car.
We got a little lost on the way back, but I managed to find my way expertly—if I do say so myself—to the hostel.
I got online, booked a hotel in Dubai, said my goodbyes to Zeta and Croussie, and on my way to the car bought a butterfly knife and a gyro.
You know; like you do. I’m actually gonna open a store called butterfly knives and gyros. The two go together like loud noise and hangovers.
The drive to Heraklion was a little more than an hour, through a curvy one lane road that was sooooo much fun to drive. Passing on turns was tough in the Clown Car, but I managed to get by without killing myself and still finishing my gyro.
Arriving in Heraklion, traffic was absurd. It was getting late. It was past 8:00 and I still had to return the automobile. I had no idea where I was.
“Just keep the water on the left,” said the InMo. “It’ll be cool.”
I pull up next to a chick with highlighted hair in a yellow car listening to loud Greek music.
“Excuse me,” I called over.
I tooted the horn. She looked over.
“Is the port this way?”
She smiled and nodded and took off her sunglasses, looking right in my pupils.
“Thank you!” I smiled back and pulled forward a little bit to avoid any awkwardness.
But the traffic was slow.
The clock ticked past 8:15.
“It’s right around this corner. I know it; I recognize this area,’ assured the InMo.
It was not right around the corner.
The little cars inched along and scooters leaned precariously between the living mass of tiny automobiles.
Missing this ferry, would mean missing my flight to Istanbul and missing my flight to Dubai and perhaps even missing my flight to Kenya, and spending whole crapload of money I’d rather use on other things. The car had become a mess again and tried to pack up some crap while I sat in traffic
About 8:40, I turned a corner and saw the massive ferries hazy in the distance. I was back.
I triple parked and began to stuff things in my bag.
As I’m gathering my things and sweating, I hear friendly voice.
“You had a good time?”
“Matthew! It was spectacular,” I stopped packing and shook his hand. “I went everywhere you circled on the map and it was the perfect trip. I got lost a little, but it was just that: perfect. Thanks for everything.”
“I’m glad you had good time.”
“Yeah. And I went skinny dipping with four girls last night.”
“Heeeey! Now that’s a good time.”
“You know it bro. I can’t thanks you enough, but I gotta make this boat.”
“You have plenty of time.”
“Better safe than sorry, right! Until next time.”
I gathered my things, started walking at a rapid pace and waved without looking back.
I lifted my eyes to the red and white behemoth that’d be my home for the next 10 hours or so. People were still loading, I would make it.
Or at least I thought I would.
Just then, as swirls of doubt began to dissolve into my thoughts precipitating crystals of distress, my little blue Clown Car showed appeared on my left.
“How could I let you walk? Get in,” commanded a beaming, bearded Matthew.
I smiled and shook my head. What a shining example of humanity this guy was.
I threw my things in the back seat and climbed in shotgun.
“I am so glad you had a good time here in Crete.”
“Dude, I am not done with this place by a long shot. I really like it here. Are you from here originally?”
“Yes. I was born here. I love it here. The only problem is nothing fucking works!”
I laughed a sincere laugh, “It’s even worse in Africa.”
“I can only imagine.”
We pulled right up to the gate. It was 8:45.
I shook his hand vigorously.
“You come back and see me, OK?”
“I will, Matthew,” I lied, stone-faced but smiling. “Look me up if you’re ever in Sudan.”
“We shall see,” he lied right back.
Walking into the port, I stuffed the butterfly knife in my duffel bag. I got on the boat with no security check, but I didn’t want to lose my new purchase.
The check in was packed at the front desk so I went straight to the bar. An Amstel later and the line was still long, but this time I decided to wait. Once I got in my room, I plugged in and started typing, finishing the last dozen or so posts you’ve read. I began to doze off, my hands on the keyboard, with a bittersweet, melancholy understanding that my time in Crete and Greece as a whole was finished.
I would be back at work in less than a week.
But first I had a few days in Dubai.