Sunday, November 9, 2008

Beggars are everywhere, huddled on the sidewalk with a thin plastic cup or walking around with babe in arms. I gave one of them a few apples. A man tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a good fright, with his gaping mouth and sunken eyes. The man across the street must have a cleft palate, because his voice is nasal and has no real consonants, but he hangs out with the other guys next door and carries out his day just as they do. People are people everywhere.
For breakfast this morning, I had a twisted wheel of phyllo wrapped around spinach and cheese, and a box of orange juice. After I'd paid for it I noticed the machine that squeezes fresh oranges. Oh, well.
We took a trip to Iraklio/Heraklion to go to the ancient site of Knossos, but planned it poorly and had no time to see it when we got there. We had ten minutes to see some of the exhibits in the Archeological Museum, which is undergoing renovation; they set up an annex behind it and put out 400 or so items for us to see. I don't know what I was expecting, but: wow! What we saw was a bunch of Greek antiquities, just as I've seen in books and museums. I liked the fertility figures, and the snake goddess; the pottery was OK, but bland, in a way. Perhaps with more time it would have made a better impression.
The bus turns on its heel, almost, as it swings out of the station, narrowly missing the building across the street, and honking at cars in the way, whether they're parked at the bus stop or going the wrong way. The street is the width of the bus plus one car, and that's it. Music plays on the bus, a cross between Middle Eastern dance music and Ooh, Baby, Baby pop.
It's been very dry; the olive harvest usually takes place in November, but the owners are waiting for some rain to plump up the fruits to get more oil; they are shrivelled up now, looking like oil-cured olives. Along the road were tables with rows of red bags holding freshly picked oranges, the way people sell blueberries or shrimp in Maine.
The bus stops in Souda, which has a large military presence. Greek,US, I think, and probably others. The song Waltzing Matilda mentions it. Souda has a long, deep bay protected on both sides by mountains.
The bus also stops in Rethymnon, which has a largely intact ancient fort on the edge of the water, the Fortezza, they call it. I could see it from the bus station. On the way home in the dark, one of the Greek Orthodox churches had blue neon crosses on each domed tower.

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