The International Writers Magazine
:European Travel Notes

Postcard from Crete
Karen Saxby

The cockerel is the first sound, and the warm black night with its cicada percussion is the last.

And a toothless grinning, black-garbed granny - face brown as fudge - boasts her toothless gurgling granddaughter in white frilly petticoats.

And arm-breadth, oven-hot streets weave blazing bougainvillea with freshly-washed linen, ankle-twisting potholes and cables going nowhere.

And a plethora of gift shops sell sandals and striped bags, cheap Cretan T-shirts, sea shells and tea towels, honey-covered almonds, bangles and worry beads and sad plastic replicas of fine Minoan Art. And a woman on a bus makes the sign of the cross, not once but three times, as it labours past a church - the reflex as natural as when she later checks her watch.

And market spilling shoppers jostle one euro glad-rags, and tourists buy lace that will never find a use. And women squeeze aubergines, fat peppers, fresh walnuts, melons, fat tomatoes, with okra ladies fingers. And hard-selling students press time-shares on passers-by with time here, but no time and no cash to spare. And melodies swing playfully from vine-roofed tavernas in twisting cobbled side streets that labyrinth the town.

And wooden pallets bleached by summers become board walks and fences, roof tops and chicken pens. And stone fortress building-blocks, seated for millennia, edge decade-old glum concrete and today’s rusting cans.

And purple morning glory weaves garishly through bamboo reeds, climbing high as houses in a dried river’s bed. And red-fruited pomegranate and dust-covered lemon boughs and mulberries with fanning hands wave in the sun. And a parched row of olive trees swing green-beaded necklaces in sea-born breezes from slope-perched groves. And a bud-bearing caper shrub makes the wreck of a Nissan truck its very happy home.

And a cat, like a wild thing, chases mouse-size grasshoppers, and dogs bark, and goats bleat and sleep in the sun.

And the ‘apartmen El mar’ is square-roomed and simple, but the seascape from its balcony is little short of heavenly. And its couple (in their late teens and daringly from Germany) have mosquito bites on limbs and love bites on their skin. And a fifty-something belly of a man wears speedos, and his wife goes topless, pink-bosomed bobbing free, out of sight of neighbours on this far-flown beach.

And a bloke buying beers says "Thanks, Duck…" to a waitress, who searches in her dictionary and wonders why.

And a woman, soft on sand, drops a book she’s engrossed in to focus, for a moment, on a Man behind her eyes.

And the turquoise, salty-frothing of the all-embracing sea washes multicoloured beds
of pebbled tumbling marble. And the heat beats everywhere, on everything light touches, warming bodies through to bones and rock to its core. And limestone-shimmer mountains, in a sky that’s impossible, crown hazy-grey headlands - as they rise from the shore.

Yes, you can understand why Gods trod here and Zeus lives still in these herb-encrusted hills.
And the cockerel is the first sound and the warm black night and its cicada percussion is the last.

Wish you were here. Back Tuesday night (flight CT 2469 at 22.30 - south terminal).
Love K. xxxxxx
© Karen Saxby Ocotber 2005

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