In preparation for this trip we have been taking the Rosetta Stone language courses. We also carry with us a little black satchel in which we have small language conversation books and "cheat-sheets" with pertinent phrases in a variety of languages. French, Italian, Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, and even Spanish. We know just enough words to get us in a little bit of trouble! They are slightly helpful and it does give us a sense of trying to participate in the language. And, the books did help us in Italy as we pointed out our request to take the car across the ferry so we continue to keep them with us and it gives us a very small sense of security.
So having practiced the standard beginners Greek; hello, good morning, good night, please, thank you, and this is very good we sat down to order our first dinner in the family run restaurant.
We were both a bit tired after our travels and getting moved in so we thought we would order a light supper of soup and salad. This request had the potential of being our demise. We had just committed one of the biggest faux paus and didn’t even know it. The manager of the place, who is also one of the cooks and a waiter looked at us in what can best be described as ‘disgust’ and said “You Americans, you eat like birds, not like the Greeks who really enjoy a good meal”. He genuinely looked offended and we were sure we could never redeem ourselves again. The next morning we worked on ‘mending our ways’.We went into the kitchen and thanked the cooks for the lovely meal last night and admired their kitchen. They began to warm up as we told them we would love to be able to prepare meals like they had for our family. “Tell us about your family” and so began a conversations that we could participate in, the language barrier irrelevant. We began talking about was near and dear to our hearts. Through hand language, pictures, and often times the wrong words over and over we began to get to know our friends at Milia.
Zorba has run the place for 10 years after leaving Serbia. He has been married for 5 months and hopes to own his own place soon. He sounds and looks just like the comedian Ray Ramono and was pleased to hear he reminded us of a movie star.
Jordan is married and has three children and he lives in the village 5 kilometers down the road. Working here is good steady work and he needs it, he often puts in 12-hour days. Evan has 2 babies under two and spots every baby that comes in the place. He will stop everything he is doing just to run over to play with them for a moment; I think he is getting his baby fix. George is the older man who sweeps our room and brings us firewood each day.
As the days went by, we would find that George would actually watch for our return and prepare the fire for us so our room would be warm when we entered it.
We were fully welcome ‘into the kitchen’ which really is the hub of all activities.Tasting a little of this or a little of that became a treat and honor for us. If a baby fussed in the restraunt one of the ladies would tell a young mother that we were experienced parents and grandparents so we were given the honor of “Cretan grandparents”. Parents could rest their arms a while and we could fill ours.
Such a good deal. The inability to speak to each other became less an issue, as our ability to relate to each other on a nonverbal level increased.
Even though our Greek did not improve tremendously nor did their English become any better we developed a wonderful form of communication. Greeting each other with hugs and kisses, the cooks knowing Tom would enjoy a cold beer after our hikes (they would serve it with a freshly baked piece of wheat bread), the ladies saving pieces of chocolate for an occasional treat and just the wonderful excitement of seeing each other again became our routine.
We knew, as we got ready to leave it would be a hard for us. We had grown so very fond of them all. They packed us up with warm bread, fresh cheese, olives, fruit, homemade wine and beer, chocolate cakes, fried cheese pies with honey and George gave us a bulb from his garden. We would not leave hungry!
We said our goodbyes and drove to the big city of Kissamo where Tom was hoping to get his haircut. Much to our dismay all businesses close between 1:00 and 6:00 so we had missed our opportunity for the day. We sat down to have a cappuccino and who should stop his truck in the middle of the road to embrace us but our old friend Niko (he was one of the men who helped us the night we had our long walk-about). “What, you are leaving? Come; spend one more night with me. I have an empty house, my children are grown, my wife has passed and I will cook dinner for you! Come, stay my friends.”We did spend a delightful day will him. We took pictures and made copies for each other and hugged and kissed as we parted.
We will never forget this time and the relationships we have enjoyed. Each one of us contributing just a thread of our lives and yet when all woven together, the beautiful tapestry of friendship was formed. Although our language skills improved very little, all the thoughts and feelings we shared amongst ourselves, were well known to each other.
So, onward we go. Lebanon is the next stop. And we are looking forward to the next set of adventures. Not sure of the wireless situation there but will write when we can.