Travel Articles




My Crete II

Cretan Traffic JamI'm sort of a hybrid: not really a farmboy, not really a city boy. I know what to say to cows to get them going--or coming home. I know what to say to pigs to tell them slop's on. I know how to talk to sheep. No really, I do.

A few years ago as I was hiking up to the Stubai Glacier, I encountered a flock of sheep. I greeted them with a low Mahhhh Mahhhh. Was I surprised when one of the elder sheep raised his head and returned my greeting? Mahhhh Mahhhh. Not really. So I continued to speak to him. Mehhhh. Mah-Mahhhh. Mah. And he continued to converse with me. Before I knew it, fifty sheep were following me up the mountain. I was a hit.

On Saturday last weekend, we drove into the mountains on Crete near Chania. When we encountered our first sheep traffic jam, I jumped at the chance to walk alongside them. After a few minutes--and once the shepherd realized I was sort of a farmboy (but not really), he showed me how to herd the sheep so the cars could pass. He used a combination leg-slap and pssst, which turned out to be a well-oiled tactic.

Of course I got only a taste of Crete on our whirlwind three-day stay, but I'll certainly go back. And next time, I'll spend more time in the mountains. I'm more of a mountain fellow anyway. We stayed in a nice hotel with a beautiful pool direct on a beach with an incredible sunset (see below), but we never once put on our bathing suits (didn't even bring one). I'm just not the beach type. If I were the beach type, though, I'd spend my time in one of THESE beautiful places.

I am really a mountain person.

On Monday, we drove up to around 1200 meters to a little lodge that overlooks The Gorge of Samaria. It reminded me of a German Berghütte. I ordered a Greek salad, which the Germans call a Bauernsalat, and a half liter of red wine. The salad was fine, but the "red" wine was the worst "red" wine I've ever had. It was leaning dangerously towards port. Dear IMBO readers, are you from Crete? Do you know this "red" wine from the mountains? Is this OK? Because where I come from, we don't call this red wine. We call this awful, dodgy and "gone-off" wine. I drank only three-quarters of the carafe. Well, I had paid for it after all.
"Red" Wine
Do any of you know what the flower is called that the Cretans use as a hedge? It smells like jasmine, but a student of mine told me today that it's not jasmine. I'm curious now. I should have asked when I was there, but I didn't. Almost every hedge on Crete is made of this flower. The fragrance is at first pleasant, but then it sort of turns your stomach.

Fragrant Hedge on CreteTomorrow, my interview with author Tania Hershman goes live. I hope you'll stop by and read. Comment if you can find the comment button. The blogger interface causes problems sometimes. If you reload the page, it remedies the problem on occasion.

In May, I'm hosting the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival, so watch for this. But for now, watch the sun set over Crete . . .

I must be off,



Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O'Type. He writes fiction, creative non-fiction and of course this here blog. His work has appeared in numerous places both online and in print. Read more about him HERE.

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