Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Model U.N. On Crete

It started with the tour guid who looked, shall we say, askance at my choice of footwear. The tour was advertised as a "walking"tour so I figured my running shoes would be fine. Turns out, they were expecting us to show up with serious hiking boots, walking poles, and a backpack carrying enough equipment to outfit a Sherpa. "Well, I GUESS it will be OK," she sniffed. The Ugly American stayed hidden, but the Type A person in me raged to the fore. Half an hour later, we met up with the rest of the "hikers," all of whom were more or less suitably attired. A young man from Belgium had on athletic shoes as well so I wasn't the only suspect person there.
The hike was serious business, as it turned out: mountain goat trails through humid gorges, past deserted villages, and up steep hillsides that I would refer to as mountainous if I weren't always accused of hyperbole. DidI mention that this tour started at 8:30 and was scheduled to finish by 3:30? At NO time was I going to cry "uncle." The rest of our group consisted of Germans, Dutch, Danish and Belgian folks, and I decidedly felt a bit awkward since they all understood each other but I could not follow their words at all. The guide would look around for "the Americans" when she explained something, but at certain points, I caught the word American, followed by stifled laughter...occasionally translated for me by a nice Danish guy.
After several hours of serious climbs and descents, we stopped for a snack/break in a little village where the Germans introduced me to Raki, a very strong liquor one either sips or gulps. By this time, I had proven myself not to be a total doofus, I guess, because they all began to readily translate the "American" jokes...funny people, those Germans. The last one was something like, "Americans can't stand on one leg...they need two!" which meant that another shot of Raki was called for. No sissy I, it went down in a hurry after shouting "Ramas!" which must be Greek for, "Let's all get drunk!" Caution had long gone with the sweat pouring off my face. We started the second half of the trip which included more incredible climbs, steep, rock-strewn descents and several disquieting moments when our guide admitted that she had not been that way before and asked our help looking for the red yarn which marked the path...mind you, there was no ACTUAL path much of the time. One of our company, not me at this time, took a header forward and came up bloody from hundreds of thorns imbedded in her legs and hands. Ever the pseudo Boy Scout, I produced some antibacterial ointment to stave off any infection to be found in the wilds of Crete. There are far more interesting parts, including my hilarious fall down a particularly steep point and the many bottles of wine drunk at the post-hike dinner. By this time, we were all fast friends, and I took the opportunity to show off what I knew of Greek folk dancing (I studied a video). The "American" comments were now very funny, and my mock anger was seems as a good gesture...then came the "Nike man" comments, referring to my lack of proper footwear...wonder how long he'd been saving that one?
Anyway, you'll be happy to know that nine Europeans now have a positive view of Americans...Maybe because my wife was so nice and engaged them in conversation...maybe because I'm funny falling down (a story for another time) and pretending to dance.

As several of us drove away, the German who taunted me the most (in a humorous way, I decided), stood by the side of the road and saluted us.
I high-fiver him, and I hope he understood the gesture!


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