A good neighbour is worth more than a distant friend. That certainly applies to us ‘gypseas’. All our old friends are far away and our new contacts are usually limited to ever-changing good neighbours. Usually, but not always. On Crete we meet our distant friends again. No less than twice.
It starts in Rethymno. We have a date with Robbie and Wieger from Amsterdam. Ron and Robbie know each other from days long gone by in Nijmegen and have always kept in touch ever since. Since our departure there has long been speculation about combining their vacation with a visit to us on the boat and now the time has finally come.
After the always exciting ‘how-do-I-climb-via-gangway-over-pulpit-exercise’, we catch up in the cockpit of our Coco. Robbie and Wieger suffer from a small jetlag because of their early flight, but you can hardly tell. As often with friends who have not seen each other for a long time, not much has changed. We just continue where we left off. And that is always very sociable!
In the week that follows, we regularly do stuff together. We go out to eat and drink and we explore the hinterland of Rethymno for a day with the car that Robbie and Wieger have rented. Beautiful to see and something that we don’t often do ourselves. On our route to the south we hike in two smaller gorges, eat delicious food at a tavern in Patsos and end up at Preveli beach.
To my surprise, I suddenly recognize the place where I slept under a palm tree during my first backpacking holiday as an 18 year old. Where the fresh river water flows into the azure, crystal clear sea, a lonely, green oasis has emerged. The hippies with their tree houses have now been driven away by mass tourism, but the beauty and magic of this place has remained.
After saying goodbye to Robbie and Wieger we continue our journey to Palaiokastro, a harbour just west of Heraklion. We are going to visit Marian and Georgios. Marian was Ron’s boss when he was a teacher in Wageningen. But a very lovely boss that is. When we arrive at the port, she is already waiting for us. We neatly moor our Coco and quickly collect some stuff. We leave our boat alone for one night and drive to her house in Korfes. Korfes is a small village south of Heraklion in the middle of a patchwork of fields with mainly olive trees and grapes. From their large balcony we have a magnificent view on this beautifull landscape.
While her husband Georgios is busy finalizing a delicious meal, we walk through and around the village. We talk about how our lives have changed after the big step. Marian stopped working half a year before we left and moved back to Greece. She shows us her village and tells us about the people who live there and the evacuation to the city that takes place here.
Then we eat and drink together. Georgios, once a fisherman, is very much interested in our life on the boat. He is familiar with the sailing area on Crete that we will visit, so that gives us enough to talk about. The next morning Marian brings us back to the boat with our clean laundry and enough food and drinks to feed an entire orphanage for a whole week. Greek hospitality is great! The weather is fair and it is still early, so the mooringlines that she helped to fix a day ago she can now release again.
We are leaving again. On our way to the unknown. For a moment our distant friends were close by. A strange sensation, but at the same time so completely normal. As if time has stood still and nothing has changed. For a moment distant friends were worth more than good neighbours. Now we are on our way to meet new good neighbours again.