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Crete, Greece: Hans and the Key

Hans, master storyteller.

Hans, the master storyteller.

Hans is a wonder.  He’s returned to Crete every year and explored its every nook and cranny.  He has a story about every place we go and everyone we meet.  And after a few days, I start noticing a pattern.

When we arrive at a closed tavern, he asks if I want a beer.  “It’s closed”, I say.  “Well”, he smirks, “I have the key!”  How does he have the key to this lonely mountain tavern?!  Sure enough, he opens the drawer to an outside cabinet and there it is — a key.

Walking past an ancient town I notice a cave high up in the rock face.  It’s been sealed up with a stone wall and a door.  “What is it?” I ask.  “I think a hermit lived there,” he says.  “Do you want to go up and look around?”  I say no, simply because the walk looks difficult, but also I say “it looks closed up”.  “Well”, he says, “if you want to go up and go inside, I have the key”.  I stare at him.  He’s serious.

And this happens again and again until I say “Hans, “I have the key” should be your motto.”  We laugh about it.  Because it’s so true.

Throughout our days together, Hans tells me travel stories, many of them from his time in Africa.  Each one is more outrageous than the next but never once do I get the sense that he’s lying or even exaggerating.  He’s lived a thousand lives.  Sprinkled through these stories are little lessons which I tuck away for later.  He tells me how attuned his intuition has become after years of travel.  He knows people.

Local honey that tastes like wild thyme.

Local organic honey that tastes like wild thyme-y heaven.

Late one night, Hans and I have been around town and he suggests we go to one more place.  There the owner sits alone outside under moonlight.  Hans introduces me.  These guys are obviously old friends.  The owner brings food and drinks and a sprig of fresh basil for me to smell.  Over a bottle of wine and plenty of raki, conversation flows.

The man is a beekeeper, among many other things, and he brings me a bowl of honey to taste.  This organic and golden honey tastes like an herbal symphony and he explains that the bees collect pollen only from wild thyme.

This man and I are exchanging short glances.  When our eyes catch for longer than a microsecond I have a feeling of recognition (on a soul level) that I can not explain.  It’s not lust.  It’s not desire.  It is familiarity, which technically makes no sense as we’ve just met.  One long look and I feel like I’m falling backwards into a well.  Which in real life might not feel too good but this feels crazy amazing.  And whatever “it” is I could tell that “it” was mutual.  “It” is palpable and I just assume “it” is obvious to Hans too.  Of course, it is.

Perplexed by this situation, I look over at Hans and say, “Hans, what have you done, introducing us?  and he says, with a knowing smile and completely matter-of-factly, “Laura.  I have the key!

Pictures of Agia Roumeli in Crete, Greece

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