Dave and Michelle

I thought I'd post some of my own experiences when we moved here.
They are just selected posts from a Yahoo group I used to run called CretanDreams But they should still give a little insight into our first tentative steps on Crete.

Sep 03
Hello all
returned yesterday from Crete exhausted but happy after a
very frustrating first week trekking around various unhelpful rental agents
who's attitude tended to be there's nothing available today, in the
future? We ask "How do you mean in the future" a shrug of shoulders "Avrio" who knows?
But with the help of some wonderful Greek friends out there we found
a property in the local paper which sounded interesting [and very
cheap!] so of we all trekked only to find the property not quite
finished with outside loo etc Ok call me soft but i didn't fancy the
walk in the mountains in winter by torchlight!
But as ever with typical Cretan generosity the old man who owned the
property told us of another in the village which might interest us!
It did!! a newly restored two bed roomed house with a massive living
room/kitchen no garden but a little courtyard all for 200Euro's per
month plus bills. We met the owners father in law who lives in the
village who then rang the owner, phones where passed back and forth
while we stood back bemused and a little embarrassed at how little of
the conversation we could follow with our limited Greek especially at
the speed that it was being spoken!.
Anyway the deal is done hands shaken first few months rent paid and
free drinks in "our" local Taverna to celebrate!
Moral of the story unless you speak Greek fluently it pays to have
someone there to translate for you, we would never have found this
without them.
Bank account now opened with the National bank of Greece 15mins
150Euro's and your passports no worries there.
So now back to blighty trying not to get into the "can't see the wood
for the tree's syndrome" or is that tree's for wood? and hopefully flying back to do few a more
things tax number car purchase etc in a few weeks.

DaveG

Nov 30th
Well we are finally online!
well sort of, purchased a Letsnet card for 9Euro's which is giving
very intermittent service ah well it took three weeks for Ote to put
the line in so shouldn't be surprised [they initially promised 2-3 days!
So to avoid being cut off mid message I’ll keep it brief. Settled well
in the lovely village of Avdou 15kms inland from Stalida many Greek
friends already, no work yet but looking positive. So just to say a big
thank you to all who have helped over the last 18months to get us
here.
When I get a more reliable connection I’ll keep you all up to date
with life here.
Efharisto poleee!

Dec 3rd
Kalimera from a rather wet and cloudy Crete
Ah well it even rains in Crete sometimes! Internet connection now
sorted I think! ISDN line at 64k established after a very stressful
few days sorting out computer glitches [Note They don't travel well!]
And many hours going through the many pages of the Otenet
registration site in Greek of course! and then the activation
site, helped along by copious amounts of local Raki,well i think it
helped anyway! I am online.
Perhaps I should rename the site Cretan reality now!
A few brief observations of life here so far [for those intending
the move].
Learn the language! The Cretans are wonderful people but if you move
to a mountain village like us you will need some Greek just to get
by on a daily basis.
Careful on the roads when it rains, Sounds very obvious but the road
surface is lethal [Like black ice] when it rains and most Greek
drivers don't slow down! Hence the number of accidents on the
national highway when it rains.
Also if you intend to buy a used car here be prepared for a shock
new car prices are ok but cars have a hard life here and used ones
tend to be very rough and relatively expensive. I’m still looking!
Good point, rental deals can be struck through the winter for very
good prices so don't rush!
Electricity supplies can be a little unreliable and a bit Spiky!
so if you are going to use a PC etc invest in a good surge protector.
Also unless you want to invest in a PC back up power system of some
kind I would suggest laptops are a better bet, saves losing all your work
when the power suddenly disappears!
Finally for now
I love it here!
Dave.

Dec5th 03
No thermals required at the moment! The day has turned
sunny about 15degrees not quite sun bathing but quite pleasant all
the same.
Another observation. Olive picking is hard work! Did my first stint
a couple of days ago, 5hrs with the electric whirling [don't know what
it's actually called!] Picker and I could hardly move my shoulders!
at 4Euro's per hr.Ah well at least I know what I'm in for the next
time. I’ve also signed up at the local Olive factory [only about 100m
from our rented house] when the harvest really gets going I'll be on
3Euros an hour there! Apparently it’s easier than picking hence the
drop in rate, All this was arranged by the lady owner of our local
Kafenion my Greek is still too poor! So I don't expect to get rich
out here! Hopefully the summer will bring more income which is vital
to our staying here time will tell.
Dave,


Dec 10th 03
Kalispera!
Ok another few days of interesting times in Avdou,Yesterday
started with what we thought was another power-cut normally only
brief but quite regular at this time of year apparently! So skip the
cooked breakfast I thought and have a trip into Heraklion car
hunting again! A phone call home an hour later found that the power
was still off, strange I thought but still not a major problem only
after a walk into the village a few hours later to find they all
still had power ooops! Much chasing around and a few dark hours
later finding the owner and all his keys! did we find that the power
had tripped out in an empty house two doors down. It appears that
because of the costs involved it is quite common [In the villages]
for people to take the power from a meter to feed more than one
house.If the property next door wasn't empty aswell it would make
splitting the bill quite interesting I’m sure. Anyway now on top of
the power cuts we have to be careful how many of our electrical
equipment we have on at the same time to avoid a repetition of the
problem so not all the cooker rings and the heater at the same time
Ah well we are learning slowly and for Crete to have the problem
fixed on the same day was quite good!
Well an evening meal at our favourite Kafenion
souvlaki,Potate's,Salate and some local wine and Raki and the world
was fine again.
No more Olive work yet the harvest is very slow getting going but I
managed to get few hours digging post holes for a German/Greek who's
building a house nearby so a few more evro's earned and a few more
words of Greek picked up in the process not a bad deal.
Mind you I've had to promise to give him some lessons in Aikido
{japanese self defence martial art] I’ve been a black belt for a few
years and there may be some interest locally to give lessons so
perhaps another less physically stressfull line of work will be
possible? Watch this space!
Anyway hope you all are enjoying hearing these lttle snippets of
life here I would be nice to hear from you all.
Don't be shy! I know you are out there!
Kalinichta all


Dec 18th 03
Hi all
well where do i start? Its been an interesting time recently
so I'll tell in chronological order.
Sat. Glorious weather so cycled up to Aski rough track, which suddenly
turns in to smooth wide tarmac! Dropped down into the valley through
the Olive groves wonderful ride still feels like summer!
Sun.Visit friends in Heraklion lovely afternoon turned a little
rainy as we returned to Avdou about 8pm to find... "Oshi Revmo Pali"
no power again! aaargh we didn't have anything switched on! So
Michelle rang the owners father in-law who is a resident in the
village while I lit candles,Knock on the door its the our local
kafenion owner and an elderley gentleman in a car cries of ella
ella! Didn’t give me much choice so I jumped in clutching mobile to
keep in touch with Michelle's progress with the power and to let her
know where i ended up! It turned out to be the Olive factory in
Gonies the next village,work at 3.50 Euro per hr more money! ,Ok hands
shook start tommorow,Slightly confused as to what and when? Was it
he would pick me up at 1 to 2pm and work for around 8hrs or was it
pick up at 8am and work for 1 to 2hrs.
Wrong on both counts! After a slightly unsettled night, power back
back on and a promise that an Electrologus [electrician] would visit
soon.
Mon pick up at 9.30am! up to factory to meet the others Janni the
young boss! Manolis the old boss! and Kosta and Manos the terrible
twins young lads who speak a few words of english when they want to?
Basically job is taking the bags between 60-100kgs from the yard
into the factory and empty into hopper not technically challenging
but Bl##dy hard work short break at 2 for Greek sausage,bread and
wine back to work feeling slightly fuzzy headed,very,very glad when
one of the motors burned out in the machine,stifled giggle to see 12
grown men [the factory allways has an audience!] poking the machine
with brooms and hitting with spanners!!
This obviously didn't fix the problem so sent home to rub sore back
etc!
Tues Rain and lots of it! Machine fixed! Long day from 10.00am to
8pm with a half hour break absolutely shattered,asleep by 9.30pm

Wed Colder and still raining which slowly turned to hail sleet and
then snow! very weird loading bags of olives covered in snow!
Lassithi apparently very deep snow.No Olive picking Obviously! so an
early night was declared at 7.00pm!
return home 30min later Oshi Revmo PALI! no chance of shower after
9hrs work.Owner promissed to sort power the next day as it was too
late to get anyone that night.Cold night but good sprits in the
house by gas lamp and candles amazed at what Crete was turning out like!
Thur.Snow covered village, Back to work in the snow another motor
burned out in the machine.Serious this time owner was crossing himself frantically..Obviously Expensive!
So back home at 1pm asleep by 2pm..5.30 now up after strong coffee
Power back on again but for how long?

Hope this all makes sense but V tired and brain is a little mashed
after all the goings on.And strangest thing of all I woudn't have
missed it for the world!

Oh and by the way we have bought a car but that is another story!

DaveG


Dec 21st 03
Hi all
thank you for the encouragement over these little tales fromAvdou.
Its been a slightly calmer few days since my last posting work has
eased a little at the factory,as the snow has slowed down the
picking,the snow has now mostly gone apart from the high mountain
areas,which does give a lovely view from the house.And the weather
has gone sunny with fairly clear skies but very cold at night with
even a ground frost this morning!
We appear to be coping better with the power problems and have
learned to juggle the power so only the cooker or the heater or the
kettle is on! this appears to be ok for the fuse SO FAR!
Oh and the TV transmission has been off now for about 4days! great
for the art of conversation and i suppose it one less electrical
item on.....
As i mentioned at the end of my last posting we now have a car,
after much touring of Iraklion car yards avoiding trashed ex-rentals
and very overpriced junk we eventualy settled on a 3yr old Polo for
a lot more than we intended to spend at over 7000E but with low
mileage and relatively few battle scars from life on Crete!
Very nice it is too,the dealer is a small yard near the port [For
Further details e-mail me if anyone needs a new car on Crete!] They
have been wonderful not only arranging insurance and helping us to
register the car [some very exhilarating rides on the back of a
scooter in Heraklion] but after i started work at the factory Janny
even delivered it to our house at 11pm on a very wet night at no
cost! and the free coffee is good too.They are now on the look out for a
cheap Lada Niva for me to drive the many tracks through the Olive
groves
I had one in England for a time very tough very simple and 1960/70's
technology so easy for me to repair.
Oh by the way Michelle [My wife] says if any one is going to take
the plunge and move here don't forget the dryer we sold ours in the
Uk and have regretted it ever since [clothes drying throughout the
house, mind you with our power problems?.....] also bring your winter
woolies you won't regret it.
Oh and the comments about the Manoli's yes we have Horsey
Manolis.Tibetan Manolis,Marble Manolis.Landlord Manolis and Mayor
Manolis also my Boss at the factory! I didn't know he was Mayor
until last night.
Anyway enough for now the Metaxa is calling and back to work at
10.00 in the morning I hope to post again before Christmas but if
not.
Kalo Khreestoyena to all!

2nd Jan 04
Hi all
Well my head has started to clear a little now so time to
update you on life in the village or more the village factory! .The
novelty has worn off and now its just b****** hard work! I
move/process around 30 100kg bags an hour lift onto trolley wheel
into factory dump by hopper cut open and dump contents into hopper
while keeping an eye on the conveyer belt that no big pieces of wood
get through to the machine and keeping the other eye on another
hopper that feeds the big furnace .Not too technically demanding I
grant you but on the run up to Christmas we worked 11hrs 12.5hrs and
another 6 on Christmas eve. So the two days off at Christmas where
very welcome time to nurse ailing back arms shoulder and fingers!
There are still some lighter moments like the day I arrived at 10am
to find the machine switched off and Manos and Costa sitting on the
bags in the yard enjoying the sunshine after some confusion I found
out there was a problem at the Bank, closed was all they would say
so no work!. so we spent nearly three hours sitting drinking smoking
and generally chilling out eventually big boss arrived and machines
where switched on, "whats happening" I asked only to get the most
commonly used gesture on Crete a look upwards and a shrug of the
shoulders, anyway at the thought of starting work it was decided it
was time to have lunch! Only over lunch that the word strike was
mentioned AH HA! Now I understand, the bank workers where on strike
so the boss couldn't get the money to pay us.Anyway cash found from
somewhere so we eventually went back to work only to have more
confusion later over what hours we where to be paid for the day Ti
Ora? asks the boss well "factory 10am" I replied Ti Ora? He repeated
until I realised that he wanted to know when I started work not when
I Got to work! Ok another lesson learnt next time go home until they
sort out whatever problems there having.

One of the biggest lessons I've learnt so far on our short time living
here is never expect the Shop/Bank/Office to be open when you travel
somewhere, never expect something to be delivered when they say etc
etc If you apply this to all aspects of life here you will never be
disappointed or frustrated If you can't handle that or like to plan
your week ahead forget trying to live here you will rapidly go mad!
So to Christmas! chicken portions![less time to cook!] with all the
trimmings some local wine and a very excited Elliot with all his new
toys and some long and probably expensive phone calls back to the Uk
[We will find out soon first bill is due anytime] and the power
stayed on,Bonus!.
I will try to get some photo's sorted of Avdou the factory etc to
post on the site, the pickup used for collecting Olive bags has to
be seen to be believed it leaks petrol after the tank hit the floor
[only slightly overloaded!] but as they say it only leaks Leego! So
its ok, and the day they got it to run on 4cylinders [for some of
the time!] the little boss described it as "Jaguar Eh!"
Anyway sorry to finish on a moan this is such a stunning area but
why why do the Cretans dump rubbish everywhere, tin cans, oil cans,
piping, plastic, washing machines etc There is a fenced off tip area in Avdou
but that has spread to cover three times the initial area and yet
they are so proud of their scenery? We walk the local groves a lot
exercising a very active dog and if you keep your eyes up its
stunning just don't look down!.
Ah well the suns out again so mixed emotions as sun means Olive
picking which means work!. So I'm going out to enjoy it while I can!!
Yassass and Kronya Polla to one and all!
DaveG


30thJan 04
Hi all
Thought it was about time I tried to catch up with the events
of the last few weeks.
Firstly work, as it has tended to dominate my life for the past few
weeks.
Well I think? I've finished there now I certainly hope so Its been a
truly fascinating experience but also exhausting as mentioned in a
previous posting my body is starting to rebel after all the constant
abuse! And I started to feel like an American footballer as preparing
for work involved about half an hour of applying support bandages and
yards of tape to several parts of my anatomy! OH ERR Missus!
I also think its time to quit as I was starting to take on certain
Greek traits like the time there was some highly technical
maintenance going on involving the Boss's walking stick and I found
myself looking for a better shaped stick! I'm not quite ready for
stones yet apparently there's a 4year apprenticeship involved!
I also exploded the other day after 8hrs exhausting work work without
any kind of break, downed tools [well knife] and stormed off to the
staff refreshment area [Store room!] To be promptly followed by the
factory Foreman who was all smiles and joined me in a glass of wine I
think it was a sign from him that he was starting to accept as me
being nearly Cretan.

Greek Arguments! At first I found them very difficult to cope with.
They were a daily, sometimes hourly occurrence at the factory.
[Normally over who's Olives should be processed next, unfortunately
with two bosses in the factory' each having their own running order,
confusion was always there! But there intensity made me think that
fisticuffs were the only possible outcome yet every time the two
parties [after a brief period of time] where best buddies again!

Another observation! The Brits are not the only race who if you don't
understand what they are saying the first time shout it again, only
Louder, well they do if your about to process their Olives anyway.

Well I can't write from Crete without mentioning the recent weather
here, its weird, in the last two or three weeks we have had sunny
days T-shirt's etc [Michelle even went to the beach with Elliot on
one day!] to torrential rain for hour after hour to sleet then snow
which stayed for several days and now its T–shirts again! We've found
it also has the effect of making it difficult to judge time as it
feels like the seasons are all mixed up, we have only been here just
over 3months but it feels like we have seen summer autumn winter
spring and have hit summer again.
Oh yes and today I had my first ride in a Greek three-wheeler! I was
out walking the dogs in the sunshine when we had one of those
incredible rain showers [From glorious sunshine to torrential rain in
minutes] the Olive pickers had obviously seen it coming and had
already packed up for the day I had pulled the dogs to the side of
the track to let a three wheeler pass and the driver/rider? signalled
me to move some of his gear and jump on! Not the smoothest or
quietist ride I've ever had but I was very grateful for the lift,
although I think it did surprise him that I bothered to get the dogs
on board too! Cretan dogs would have run behind... {But that's a
story for another posting!}
Ok all bye for now
DaveG

Hope you enjoyed it! Ah memories...
DaveG
 

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