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Crete, Greece: Breakfast in Agia Roumeli

Rose and basil gift.

A rose and basil gift.

The wind blew fiercely last night. Usually, the air is so calm (which I find surprising being in the middle of the sea), but when it kicks up, it does so with such ferocity that I feel unsettled and scared.

This morning, the power is out in the village. The daily ferries are cancelled due to the wind which effectively means that the whole village has the day off from tourists.

The sea takes on a new shade of robin’s egg blue due to the churning – spectacular.

My new friend invited me to join him for coffee this morning.  When I arrive two of his friends (or maybe family members as there are only four families in Agia Roumeli), are sitting at a table outside.  Although it is only 10 AM, carafes of different types of wine are there on the table.  I enjoy my coffee while listening to the men speaking Greek, a language I find beautiful.

One man with the stature of a giant and the cheerful demeanor of a boy repeatedly excuses himself from the table and returns with a smile and fresh herbs or flowers for me to smell and enjoy.  He tucks his own stash behind his ear.  Handing these gifts to me, I notice his hands; rugged, strong, dirty working hands holding these delicate treasures.  The contrast is delightful.

Agia Roumeli

Agia Roumeli on a windy day.

My coffee still warm, one man pours me a cup of “iced tea”.  Parched, I gulp it, only to discover that this amber liquid is in fact wine.  My reaction causes uproarious laughter all around.

The men will not allow my wine glass to go empty. Plate after plate of food comes out until there is literally a feast of unbelievable proportions covering the entirety of a six-person table.  It is more food than I have ever seen at a Thanksgiving feast!  The men eat. And eat. And eat.  I have never seen people eat so much!  And drink. And drink. And drink.  It isn’t even noon!

Believing that I am not eating enough, the men fill up forks and deliver the food to my mouth.  For real?!  My belly grows full of wine and fresh cheese and pizza and olives and fresh bread and honey and grape leaves and tomatoes and…I am staring at the ocean.  Is this happening?  How did I get here?!

As far as hedonism goes, there is no match for Crete.

One of these men gets up and walks to a tree in the garden overloaded with pink and yellow pomegranates. He hacks off fruit with a (goat-killing) knife and hacks the fruit into two. He then carefully removes the seeds and places the sweet jewels in my hand to eat.  Does this pampering never end?

By 1 PM, all men present are literally in a food and wine-induced stupor with eyes half-closed and backs arched to accommodate the painful bloat of excess eating.  They leave to nap.  I sit and stare at the ocean, the sunlight warming me through slats in the veranda.  I wonder how I ever arrived at such a magical place.  And already I mourn my impending departure.

This is living.

Photos of Agia Roumeli

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