The soft pity patter of the rain woke me up on my final day in Crete. I expected it to rain today based on the weather app on my phone. I laid in bed listening to the rain and faded back to sleep. I was in no hurry to get up, I wasn’t planning on checking out until 11:00am and it was barely 7am. I was re-awaken by the sun shining in, while I was in no hurry to leave; I still needed to pack. I got up, opened the patio door and walked out towards the bright sun and ocean below. I would miss this view and place. One of the most relaxing week of my life was coming to an end. I had a sad heart, but I also knew while this past week had been glorious; it had to come to an end for other moments to come to pass.
I got ready, packed, checked-in online for my flight and searched for ways to kill a few hours. My flight didn’t leave until 9 pm, which meant I needed to be at the airport at 7pm…leaving me 7-8 hours with nothing to do. I had looked both into Herkalion (the city where the airport is located) and a nearby city of Agios Nikolaos for some sightseeing options. Gournia, an ancient town dating back over 3,500 years, excavated and restored to show visitors how common people lived in ancient Greece (TripAdvisor) caught my fancy. It wasn’t far from Agios Nikolaos and seemed like something worth checking out. The plan would be to double back to Agios Nikolaos after visiting the ruins.
Other than a visit to the town of Elounda and the Island of Spinalonga earlier during the week; I hadn’t done any sightseeing or touristy type things. It was an interesting island. During Venetian rule, salt was harvested from salt pans around the island of Spinalonga and the island had also been used as a leper colony. It was a small island with well-preserved structures that easily allowed today’s tourists to get a sense of what life must have been like…thousands of years ago.
After breakfast, I checked out and then started my drive to Gournia. The sun was out and the previous rain fall added a certain glow to the landscape. The green shrubs appeared more alive and the dry stones, pleasantly quenched also shined in the sun. I marveled at the view as I drove along the coastline.
Walking the site at Gournia, left me with more questions then answers, but I didn’t spend too much time pondering them; I could see the clouds rolling back in and I wanted to start heading back to pull over and get some pictures of the beautiful scenery I passed on my way. By the time I was in Agios Nikolaos looking for parking…the threat of rain became imminent. With parking impossible to find, I decided to start my drive to Herkalion and try my luck there with parking, walking around and finding a place for a late lunch.
On my way to Herkalion, I eventually had to pull over, the rain was coming down too hard and I couldn’t see a thing. My rental car, like most cars on Crete was small, a fact I was grateful for while driving around Herkalion, but also a fact that created unusual driving patterns on the main roads. Since the cars are so small, they can be easily passed. Most folks drive on the shoulder lane making it easier to be passed. It doesn’t matter if it’s a double lane, or a curve…cars just move into the shoulder lane while other cars pass, sometimes on both sides. More than once, I saw four cars across the two lane highway; cars passing another on both sides. Of course I quickly adopted this method of driving!
I eventually made it to Herkalion with plenty of time left to kill but it was also still drizzling. I debated just dropping off the car and waiting it out at the airport writing (so glad I didn’t but more to come on that later) but I didn’t want my vacation to be over just yet so I made my way towards the port. After finding parking, I ventured out to find a place to eat. I explored a few places and settled on this little hip restaurant that served a variety of Mediterranean dishes. I ordered a seafood risotto that lo and behold had octopus in it. I ended up eating octopus after all. The risotto was delicious and while at the restaurant it rained again hard. The rain was followed by the sun, so I did some walking around…only to end up caught in the rain again. There was still time and no real rush getting to the airport but when the sun came out again, I figured it best to make my way to the rental car place since it would be best to do this while it wasn’t raining.
I was at the airport a little after 5:30pm. I walked into the airport and what seemed like mass confusion. It took me a little bit to get my bearing and figure out how this place worked. There were no counters dedicated to the airlines…instead there was a big board with flights listed and what counter to go to in order to check-in. Being that I was 3.5 hours early, my flight wasn’t listed yet. Some counters had lines that snaked all the way back outside. This was one small airport servicing lots of different airlines and lots of people. I found a place to sit, wait and people watch. Forty-five minutes or so later the board directed me to counter 29 for check-in.
The line was not short but surprisingly moved pretty quickly…what made the time go even faster was meeting “Mo” who found herself in line behind me. Mo is German but I wouldn’t have guessed it looking at her. She had dark shoulder length wavy hair and tanned skin. She had a backpack on her back, hiking boots on and a mixture of rings and bracelets that created a much more island look then German look. She explained she used to live on Crete many years ago and has been here looking for opportunities to return. Her English was good. I inquired more about her business and work. She was in fact not happy with herself for cutting her trip short for an opportunity that didn’t work out. I felt bad for her and I felt her pain.
After we both checked-in for our flights, she was flying to Dusseldorf and passed through security, I decided to let her know about what came of my entrepreneurial endeavors. Admittedly, the experience of the going through the Herkalion airport security helped me better understand why at Heathrow airport they make people go through security checks again for people coming off a flight and getting unto another.
The gate area was just as crowded and confusing of a place…especially for Mo’s flight which turned out to be delayed and moved to a different gate. In the end though, flights took off to places around the world from a variety of airlines, relatively on time and people lined up in crowded lines without any issues.
We stood there in this crowded terminal and I opened up to her about falling on my knees and giving my life to Christ. She listened attentively and asked some questions. For the first since giving my life over to Christ I found myself truly preaching the Gospel to someone. I was surprised by how receptive she was and how much she wanted to know about God’s love. Unfortunately, our talk was cut short because she had to go catch her flight. We exchanged phone numbers and I hope I’ll get to see her again. I definitely think God is working to open her heart to His love and Will for her life.