Cretan Sun

Chica!

The other day Costas invited me on a hike through a nearby limestone gorge to commemorate the 40th day (apparently when an orthodox christian’s soul is released from purgatory or some such thing?) after two climbers died in the gorge after falling some 30m. Costas was hiking the gorge that day with a friend when they heard cries for help and came upon the party of climbers. The two were in their 60’s and were still alive when Costas arrived, but both had died before a helicopter could be brought in.

It was a scorching day, even in the morning, when Costas, Chica (Costas’ beautiful Cretan hunting dog), and I set out up the gorge. I was drenched in sweat before hitting the trail head and it only got worse as the day progressed. Luckily I didn’t have too many beers to sweat out from the night before, but still found myself dizzy a number of times up the canyon. Just kept slamming water and made it the ~6km up to a little village at the canyon head. Along the way we merged parties with a sporty German couple.

We stopped for lunch in the village (pop. 15) at Costas’ friends tavern and enjoyed cold beers, tomatoes, cucumbers, sardines, soft and hard breads, fava bean paste, olives, etc. The stomach cramps I’d been fighting the last half of the morning suddenly vanished as soon as a toilet was handy. Afterwards we continued on up and around the village and walked along the rim of the canyon back down towards the sea. The thyme was beginning to flower and many other herbal scents filled the air also as we descended the sun drenched slope in the blazing heat of the day.

Lunch time in the mountain village with Costas and our new German friends

The garden that supplied nearly all our lunch except the sardines


The canyon that we spent the morning walking up through

Chica also appreciated the view.

Chica’s strategy was to run to a shady spot and wait for us to pass.

Found some cool in a nice sized cave
Thyme growing out of a rock overlooking the sea
Costa insisted we all stand dangerously close to the top of a climbing route overlooking the canyon
Costa’s amazing four suite home and rental property
When we got back to the mouth of the gorge, the Germans departed on their sports bike, and Costas’ took me back to his property, then to the resort where we met up with the two blokes from the UK and all went snorkeling. The yellow-white, sandy beach slowly tapered into the blue-turquoise sea, warmer than the pool on top but refreshingly crisp below ~1m.
Today is my last day at Villea Village, and while I’m sad to go, there is much more on countless other islands than I could hope to see in a lifetime. My rented car has sat where I parked it the day I arrived here as I never felt the desire to go anywhere else; so I plan on driving the long way around the eastern side of Crete before looping back to Heraklion when I’ve booked a hostel for the night. Knossos, an ancient Minoan ruin, is there, and hopefully I’ll be able to hitch a ride on a ferry leaving for Santorini or Milos in the next couple days. 
Thank you Costas and Chica for the superb company and for giving me a taste of the Cretan way of life. Please do visit me in Canada and I’ll do my best to give you a taste of Rocky Mountain powder boarding!
Last night my scumbag brain wouldn’t let me sleep but instead preferred nightmares about adolescence and old enemies. Those faded inversely with the morning’s suns rays and blood-caffeine level. Drove to Heraklion through some amazing country dotted with villages and towns. Serpentining over the twisty blacktop in my rented 5-speed hatchback is probably the closest I’ve come to rally-car racing – the adrenaline kept me awake through the long drive. 
Last night in Analipsi over Cretan Salad and Beef Stefado

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3 thoughts on “Cretan Sun

  1. Cari M says

    You mentioned Chica is a hunting dog. What kind of game does she hunt? Your blog and photos make me want to learn more about Crete. Amazing that such a rocky, harsh looking terrain can yield such a variety of beautiful food and flora. On the road again…here's to safe travels and more great experiences.

    Reply
  2. lmutch says

    Not totally sure what she hunts, pheasants rabbits?, I think she's similar to a bird hound, so she gets the scent, points, and then flushes birds into the air or rabbits out of warrens, not totally sure? Anyways she was so sweet! Had such a great time on Crete, don't really want to leave, but really want to see some other islands too.

    Reply
  3. Cari M says

    I was reading up on Crete and discovered there are no wild animals or snakes that are dangerous to humans on the island. 🙂

    Reply

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