Beachy time

Musings

I’ve been in Chania for a whole year, and spent most of last summer there too, but it wasn’t until this August that I truly discovered some of the great beaches we had at our disposal. All it took was renting a car. We were thrilled at first because we had a means of transport and could pretty much pick any point on the map and head for it. Sounds like a great way to spend a week with visiting friends, right? Packed like sardines in the not-so-spacious Huyndai Atoz is one thing; doing the whole road trip transfixed in one position with no radio is quite another.

You see at first we didn’t notice that there wasn’t a radio affixed to the car, because it’s something you take for granted. The antenna was there. The radio? Nowhere to be found. I actually stumbled upon this little detail when I mechanically made for the turn on / volume knob and hit a flat surface. Then I tried to pull it off, thinking it’s a cover. But no, no such thing. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, here’s what it looked like:

It looked like a freaky skeletor-style face

It looked like a freaky skeletor-style face

Luckily we had one of those cassette / CD players which we loaded with batteries and connected to our iPods. We were so bad-ass.

We headed to the nearby beaches, testing the waters, but soon enough we ventured out to a big tourist attraction, Elafonisi. An island is connected to the mainland from a tiny stretch of sand. On some days it tends to be windy there, with lots of waves, but luckily the sea was calm when we were there. As the wave washes over the sand on the shore, the color of the sand is pink from the shells. We took a leisurely walk along the coast and kept stopping to collect shells. I have so much material for new beading adventures!

Looking for shells

Looking for shells


Infecting others to do the same. I enlisted my boyfriends help too!

Infecting others to do the same. I enlisted my boyfriend's help too!

We were pretty lazy at Elafonisi, because the later it got, the less people on the beach and the calmer the waters. And the colors in the sky? Magical!

Dive in

Dive in

And then we looked on the other side as the sun set and we ran across the beach to take photos. The golden hues were to die for!

My favorite hour

My favorite hour

After this great beach, we thought we’d head out to Balos, near Gramvousa. The photos we’d seen of the place told of a very exotic location that looked nothing like the Greek beaches we were familiar with. And let’s be honest, how many of those postcards for sale aren’t entirely changed by photoshop? So we were skeptical but curious. In fact we were so curious as to follow the map instructions even though part of the route was marked as dirt road. But hey, we were on a road trip, right? And next to dirt road, the route was labeled “scenic”. What more could we ask for? We wanted adventure, and adventure we got.

The dirt started out…dirty but drivable. As we progressed in our average 10 km / h the size of the rocks on the ground increased so that it was bad enough we were ascending at an angle on a dirt road, we also had to manoeuvre our tiny radioless car around those huge boulders. It all seemed like a bad Atari game, really.

Bumpy road ahead

Bumpy road ahead

On our way there we came across a lot of friendly free-roaming goats. They posed for us too.

Friendly goat

Friendly goat

A mere 20 km later, we arrived at the parking area, because what followed was a 2 km walk on a footpath. We had to descend our way on the other side to find the exotic beach of Balos.

On the footpath to the beach

On the footpath to the beach


Our first sight of the beach right at the top

Our first sight of the beach right at the top


The breathtaking view!

The breathtaking view!


More of the beach

More of the beach

Spot that boat over there? Well, in case you ever visit Crete, this beach should be in your list of sights not to miss. And that boat is your gift from God. Forget the dirt road, the walking all the way down to the beach (don’t even get me started on the steps we had to go up!). A mere 50 minutes cruise and voila! You’re at the beach. Unless you’re more the adventure type. Like our macho group.

Then again, on our way back we had the full moon and despite the rocky ride, it was a great view to enjoy the whole way home. Radio or no radio.

Full moon, the sea and a perfect ride home

Full moon, the sea and a perfect ride home

Hitting the streets

Jewelry

It’s often that I lose sleep over some seemingly brilliant idea that merits black circles in the morning. Sometimes, looking like I came straight out of a Tim Burton movie is worth it, because the idea is actually a sound one. My decision to come to Chania was one of those late-night light bulbs over my head: Bright and hard to ignore. It’s turned out to be a good one, because I’m loving the Cretan life, which isn’t without its own share of idea light bulbs. One such energy-spending bulb flashed over my head last night, and there was no switching it off.

The idea? To take plain bananas out to the streets.

Let me clarify: Greek islands are known for the street artists that pepper the popular locations, and in the summer you really get a chance to see a lot of talented people. With this in mind I couldn’t help but wonder: Could I be a pepper speck too, just to spice things up, so to speak?

So just for the fun of it, I decided to hit the streets and give it a go. But first I had to prepare enough packages because you never know, do you? And by preparing, I mean adding that extra splash of magic:

A secret message for each package

A secret message for each package

Supplies ready

Supplies ready

Armed with these bananas, I set off for the old harbor and landed myself a spot that proved to be too far away from passersby. It made for a cool photo though:

Spot the banana

Spot the banana

The view from where I was sitting

The view from where I was sitting

I was sitting right next to the horse carriages, but they didn’t seem to be enjoying much notice either. While sitting there, looking frazzled from the insomniac night before, I had one of those moments where you sort of look beyond your tiny spot and appreciate the whole situation.

I saw: Me, on the pavement, my jewelry in front of me, a wonderful view ahead and my boyfriend who came along for the support and to take photos of this adventure.

Not where I thought I’d be a year ago, for sure, but what a surprising journey it has been all the way to the streets of Chania. I didn’t make a single sale, but boy am I glad to be here. Sure I look like death occasionally, but some ideas are really worth losing sleep over, right?

On hold

Musings

I’m a patient person. With teaching, my patience has been refined and streamlined for a specific target audience: Students. If you’re not a student, get straight to the point and don’t loiter near the walls of my sanity with a sledgehammer. Please.

The waiting, it kills me.

In fact, when I first moved to Crete, I don’t know how I managed to sit still and hold for a phone line and internet for 3 months without declaring war on the particular phone company. I just lived on hope.

What a fool.

I was reminded of the same scenario today when I came home. I’ve recently moved and wanted to transfer the phone to the new place. I enter the apartment and see on the coffee table a box wrapped in pink. A present? No, just the logo colors of said phone company. Inside the box: modem #2. Man to connect our line? Nowhere to be seen. The call that proceeded had me huffing and puffing over the atrociously bad music on the speaker and getting a convoluted version of why I still didn’t have a line a month after the move. Along this lovely conversation came up some mysterious fees I was expected to pay. On queue I replied with: No thank you, goodbye and have a nice life.

Why call it customer service when it’s anything but that? All this waiting for nothing else but a bigger bill dressed in pink. Literally.

To top this, I have my hands tied beads and wire and cords but no endings or other such basic supplies to finish off any projects. Every day I wake up eager to check the mail only to be deflated by the noted absence of a box that should have been there yesterday.

But no, I’m going to take a deep breath and wait it out, because this box is worth it. As long as it’s not pink on the outside — I’m starting to feel a little too traumatized with all the  fuchsia in the house, not to mention the modems.

But  stay tuned to your modems because there’s a surprise coming your way on Friday. Please, do sit tight and hold.

[Unless you’re a teacher, at which case I can make alternate arrangements. Trust me, I understand.]

Into the moment

Musings

During the entire week, I’ve been telling myself than I need to wake up earlier that 10ish (and 11ish even), but have hardly made a conscious effort to meet that 9 o’clock wake up call. When I say hardly, I mean I haven’t even set any alarms, because I falsely convince myself it will happen naturally (of course the other reason is that my Thai-bought cell phone, only has annoying ringtones that are pretty much the equivalent of waking up to the racket of pots and pans, but with an Asian twist). Today, lo and behold, I woke up at 8.30 a.m. and in my disbelieving excitement that my biological clock had finally set itself right, I tried to transmit this excitement to my sleeping boyfriend, who could hardly understand what I was on about through his sleep-heavy eyelids. Enthusiasm diminished, I turned the other way and went back to sleep.

When we woke up at our regular 11ish time, we surprisingly managed to do everything we have always been saying we’d do on Saturdays but have never done until today. Saturdays are usually unrealistically inflated with all this hope and ambition of things we want to achieve, but secretly know we won’t. Today we were just more determined than usual and as a result I experienced the chaos and disorder of your average Greek farmer’s market for the first time, bought freshly-baked bread from the best bakery in town, got a new piercing and shopped at our local (evil) conglomerate for convenience’s sake. All this, while we trudged through what seemed to be the whole distance of Crete.

I have a thing with piercings, but I  think this will be my last one. Of course that’s what I said about my other “last one” two years ago, and look at me now. It’s hard pretending I mean such absolute statements, when I know the impulsive bug in me just won’t stay put. I like to kid myself like that.

I have been making some more jewelry with the new beads I got in the mail last week, but have yet to take some good photos of them. When I sit down to bead I actually get so into it that time sort of freezes and so does my brain actually, because I completely forget what it is I was doing before I picked up the pliers, the beads and whatever else. I call it Beading Alzheimer’s, and the only cure I know of is more beads, please.