For many years I’ve lived elsewhere, away from Crete and Greece. When I’m gone for a long time from my island I begin to feel homesick and nostalgic. It can be so strong a feeling that I begin to dream of my homeland and I find myself heavyhearted when I wake up in the morning. The first thing I miss is the temperate weather; we have over 200 days of sunshine and winters that are mild making for being outdoors a year round affair.
One of the first things I see when I fly back to the island is water. Being cradled by the Mediterranean, Crete sits like a jewel and guard between Europe and Africa. It’s such an amazing ride to drive down the scenic route from Chania airport to town as the Old Venetian harbour comes into view or when I fly into Heraklion knowing I’m not far from Knossos with its majestic Minoan palace immersed in ancient history. Or knowing that I’m just an hour’s ride away from Vai beach with its palm forest in Sitia or from Rethymnon with its narrow streets and Fortezza citadel. The places to visit beckon my calling and I don’t know where to go first as the places are many and all of them unique with history and so different depending on the era they were built from our many conquerors. One thing is certain, I never run out of things to do and places to see and so many more which I have yet to discover.
So when I’m away I miss the perfect combination of mountain, valley and seashore while my eyes get lost in the immensity of that perfect marriage between blues seas and sky. It is hard to describe what it feels like to be on my first swim of the year while I’m looking at the Psiloritis and White Mountains still dusted with snow. Or knowing how gorgeous the fields are blanketed with wild flowers. The wide range of colours begin from pure white to vivid yellows, purple, pink and reds all in varying shades, sprouting out of their lush green blanket. It’s even harder to describe how aromatic spring is in Crete as every plant is doing its best to attract as many pollinators as possible from the rotund fuzzy bumble bee to the hardworking honey bee that comes out of its hive after a much needed stretch from staying in it all winter. Everything, it seems, is alive with fervor and vigor to renew the cycle of life. The vistas from a higher viewpoint seem to be like a painting full of speckled colours.
This is the time when the African swallows find their way back to their nests scattered all over the island with their characteristic white breasts and scissor tails. Spring’s appearance materializes on the island as soon as March making for an easy transition to summer which happens around mid June. Summer beckons me like no other season. After the first awakening of spring it seems we Cretans become more alive than ever with the knowledge we are going to spend a good 3 to 4 months by the beach. There has to be a magic formula of sea, sand, salt and heat that makes us even happier as people. We spend so many late nights meandering in the narrow paths of the Venetian parts of town while we settle in a tavern to eat a feast and talk till the late hours of the night. There is something so magical to be out at night and be showered in stars above us while hearing the lull of the waves softly hitting the shore. Because we are never very far from water.
But it isnt’t just the land that I miss. I miss the big embrace my people give so openly and wholeheartedly to family, friends, visitors and even strangers. I miss the sense of generosity that we have as people that I don’t easily find elsewhere. We are so socially orientated as people we can easily rally a good number of people to help with anything in a matter of a few hours. No previous scheduling needed. And on the spot it can all turn into a feast when the job is done again without previous scheduling. This spontaneity is unparalleled in my humble opinion. It speaks of our humanity and care as people. Even in our upbeat music and in our dance we seem to embrace life with such vigor because we know life needs to be lived now and be as much in the present as possible.
I have had many conversations about blessings and I know I’m blessed regarding my homeland and even more so coming from fearless people who are not afraid to live life at its fullest. And while writing all this I have already planned so many places to visit and discover while busy bees are flying around me gathering nectar from the field I’m sitting getting lost in the colours of the flowers. It’s good to be back home…
The Terra Creta explorer