Here is a photo of me (green shirt), my younger sister, our friend Mary, Michaelis the old man with one ear, and Vasili the guy that ran the local taverna the time I spent the summer Greece. It was the year I officially caught the travel bug. It was the year Nadia Comaneci got perfect tens.
My mom and two of her girlfriends decided to take all eight of their kids out of school for the month of June and head to Crete for two months, leaving the fathers at home. It turned out to be my first big travel adventure and one that would have me craving more for the rest of my life.
I remember the group of us arriving into Athens and making our way to the island of Crete by ferry. At that time, there weren’t many other tourists in Greece, especially on the islands. And there definitely weren’t any single moms traveling around with their kids. In fact, the only other tourist at the time in our little village of Haraklion was a woman name Joanne. She was in her late twenties I thought she was the most glamourous woman on the planet. She wasn’t extremely pretty but her independent spirit was strong. Kind of like Wonder Woman.
We stayed for the bulk of our time in a pensione that was run by a woman named Katarina and her two children Nikos and Nifoula. I’m not sure but think her husband had run off. The room my mom, my sister, and I stayed in had 3 singles beds and was 50 cents/night.
We (the kids) used to wander the streets on our own, explore the beaches, and made friends with all the local shop owners. In my memory the moms weren’t around much and we did whatever we wanted most of the time.
The highlight of the trip for me was Donkey Island. At least, that’s what we called it. I don’t think it was officially named that. It was just a deserted island about 3 hours from shore that our moms had talked some fishermen into dropping us off on for the night. There weren’t any roads, or shops, or other people on it.
When the fishermen left us in the late afternoon with our picnic basket and sleeping bags, I couldn’t help wondering whether they would come back or not. And what would happen if their ship went down and nobody knew where we were. But that feeling passed quickly and soon we were exploring the island and making all kinds of exciting discoveries. That night, we lay our 11 sleeping bags in a row on the beach and counted shooting stars.
In the morning, the fishermen did return. To my delight, they proceeded to make us a fresh pot of eel soup for breakfast. To this day, it is the most delicious soup I have ever tasted.
Adventure was instilled in me at a very early age. My mom showed me how to do things despite people saying she was crazy. And I am so lucky for that because it taught me to do the same.