I made friends! Haha! Traveling alone means I only talk to bus drivers, hotel receptionists, and waiters. On occasion I will talk to someone who I am not paying. Three buses and 6.5 hours and I am in Gytheio. A man, early 40’s, was traveling to a nearby city of Gytheio and helped me arrive. He translated to the bus driver for me, when I was basically clueless. One of the transfers had us stuck at a remote bus stop for almost 2 hours. We drank espresso and talked about everything from architecture to astrology and agriculture to animals. Our conversation happened in Greek and English. He invited me to get coffee with his family: his two cousins(sisters) and one of their husbands.
It was 9:30pm when we met up for espresso. By 10:30pm we were walking to a nearby restaurant. The husband didn’t speak any English, while the sisters had private lessons 10 years ago that they hardly remember. I thought they did very well. The husband and wife were both doctors, while the other sister is a physiatrist. After sitting down, one of the sisters told me I had to order. I had eaten just before I arrived so I wasn’t hungry. She insisted saying, “It’s the LAW. You have to order. We all order and share.” When the food came, it was all family style. They dished me up food, telling me what everything is. I got to taste 10 different dishes on a full stomach. I am soooooo stuffed. I tried everything: octopus, Greek salad, spicy dishes which I cannot remember the name to, garlic paste, pasta with shrimp, and bread with olive oil. If I ate anything on my plate, another scoop of something was coming my way.
They also had me try Oyzi, a very strong alcohol. One sister loves it while the other hates it. But, they both agreed I had to try it. After one sip, I was back with my water. Through out the entire dinner, all four of them rambled so quickly in Greek. I was able to catch little bits here and there. One would stop and translate just to make sure I am keeping up. Sometimes I would be able to translate before them. I could get the gist of most of the conversation. When they were talking specifics, I would get lost. Yeah, they didn’t exactly cover ‘corruption in the medicine field with black market payouts’ in my Rosetta Stone lessons. I am doing my best to keep up. There were moments when they didn’t know the exact translation of things. It was like playing charades and taboo at the same time.
Dinner ended about 1:30am(yes, 3 hour dinner) and I headed back to the hotel. They made sure I was okay on my own. They are sweetest family, buying me dinner. It makes me wonder if an American family would meet a tourist and offer to have dinner with them. Not only dinner, but getting them to try local cuisine, translating into the tourist’s native tongue, and being very generous. All of this, full well and knowing, they may never see me again.
I am not an author. To be quite honest, I always hated English class. I write so I may share my experiences and remember the man I met on a bus who treated me to dinner with his family, paying and booking a hotel only to find out its out of business, fake crying in the Athens airport to get a ticket home, or remember the strangers who looked out for me on a bus. Some live, experience, and are fulfilled by what’s in their backyards. I find there is something truly exhilarating about cramming as many possessions into a bag as possible, only to complain you brought too many. This is my life out of a suitcase, hope you enjoy.