It started in 1976 when I was eight. My mom and two of her girlfriends decided to go to Greece for a week. They signed up for Greek classes and started to study. But they soon realized that one week would be much to short considering all the effort they were putting into the trip, so they changed their plan to include all seven of their kids and go for two months.
So off we went, all ten of us, across the ocean, with most people thinking the three moms were crazy. We took the last month off school, planting pumpkin seeds in the garden before we left. The three father’s stayed home to work and sail around the Great Lakes.
I remember that trip so clearly and what amazes me now is how I thought it was normal. Kids are so adaptable and what you teach through your actions is learned very quickly as a general attitude about life. So, the travel bug was ingrained in me.
We spent the first few days in Athens in a hotel, then took an overnight ferry to Crete, where we spent the rest of our vacation. We lived in a pensione with a single mother and her two children, Nicos and Nifoula, who rented us three rooms for $2.50/night per room. We had many adventures during our stay, made friends with the locals, and played with the local children. I learned some Greek and crawled through the sewers at Knosses.
But one adventure really stands out. Donkey Island. At least that’s what we called it even though there weren’t any donkey’s there. I am not sure how it all came about but the three moms somehow organized for some fishermen to take us out to sea, drop us on a deserted island, and come back for us in the morning.
I remember being dropped off on the hot, sandy beach and thinking “What if they don’t come back?”. We had a bagged picnic for dinner and our sleeping bags and that was it. There wasn’t a single other person, building, or road on that island. We explored and played and slept side by side on the beach, watching for shooting stars until we fell asleep.
In the morning, the fishermen returned, and cooked us an eel soup for breakfast. At first I wasn’t sure about eating eels, but it was the most delicious soup I have ever tasted to this day. It was a light chowder with intense lemon flavour, cooked straight from the sea and eaten barefoot on the rocks.
When we returned to Canada at the beginning of August, our backyard was covered in pumpkins and I had a new outlook on life, although I didn’t realize it at the time. That experience opened many doors for adventure for me in the years ahead. And I have my amazing mom to thank for giving my the travel bug and feeding my love for adventure.
Live Clean, Love Fully, Travel Lots,