Being in Crete, we covered a great amount of ground and walked over history the entire weekend. We made it to Rethymno which contains La Fortezza (the fortress) used in many wars from the Persian Empire to World War II.
It was an airy feeling being inside a place where so much life was lost. Where there was once bullets ricocheting and screams bursting, silence fell. The wind blew around us creating a sort of chill that made it difficult to tell if it was the weather or the history that made our skin rise…just a little.
Dinner followed at a restaurant that was authentic to say the least. The food was amazing and the people who operated it truly treated us as family. I fed some cats who looked hungry and I think even made a friend out of one. This was weird because prior to this trip I was never a cat person..but I’m being persuaded. We sat outside and the wind became too intense as glass fell and shattered off empty tables. After that we moved to a table inside where the owners taught us the “greek dance.” I remember thinking to myself, “with all that is happening here, all of the distress, these people are so full of joy and love for others.” They certainly impressed me.
The following day was intensely satisfactory for me. We hopped in the car and started following the GPS through some roads that should never have been roads. I have to admit, I found myself praying that we made it to our destination in one piece. To my slight surprise and relief, we did. We arrived at St. Anthony’s gorge. It is the largest gorge in the world with nature enveloping you at every turn.
A little bit of background about St. Anthony: he is the patron saint of lost things. As a semi forgetful person, St. Anthony has been an extremely helpful key in my life. Ever since I was younger, I’ve found myself praying to him for help on finding various things such as a lost camera, lost jewelry, and once a lost dog (all of which were found, thank God). Most recently, I’ve found myself praying to him for other things that are metaphorically lost such as relationships and finding health and wellness. The point being, this Saint is very important to me as an individual.
After a hike and some sweat, we reached for me, a place of peace. Upon a small ledge and cave, there was an ancient worshipping ground of St. Anthony. There were pieces of paper wedged within the cracks of caves consisting of prayers to St. Anthony. Along with the papers, there were articles of clothing, metal templates with imprints of body parts, and jewelry hanging within the dwelling. All of these, the prayers and needs of individuals who come to ask to be found from all around the world. I was standing in a gathering ground for peoples most inner thoughts and intimate prayers. I was standing among the desires of people just like me. I felt a sense of community without there being physical persons there. I knelt near St. Anthony’s statue as well as the small room with relics in it and took my time. I wrote down, just like my fellow visitors, my prayers for St. Anthony and found the perfect crevice to put my paper in. I then lit a candle for my prayers and left a piece of not only myself, but my heart at the site.
We then spent our time hiking around the gorge. These rocks and steps were nowhere near accessible or easy to climb, but when we reached the heights, it was well worth the uncertainty of “Can I make it up there?” The pictures I took are no fashion photos or profile pictures but they contain the most memories.
After we made it back to the car, we drove through more questionable roads and reached a peak. It was so breathtaking that we stopped to take some photos. Some people may ask, “Why are these things so important to you?” or “What makes this sort of stuff so incredible?” The answer is quite simple: these things, mountains and gorges, were made by something bigger than us – bigger than man. Man could not have dreamt up this sort of natural architecture.
The next day was the day we were scheduled to fly “home” to Athens. We did some shopping and then headed back to the airport and had some dinner. After rushing to make our flight, we realized that our flight was not listed on the board. I quickly got in line to ask about what gate we needed to be at, and then I was informed that because of an airstrike, our flight was cancelled. I was definitely okay with one more day in Crete.
The next day before our rescheduled flight, we ate lunch in a small coastal town called Bali. It was a sight for sore eyes, as most coastal Greek towns are. A salty breeze kept us company while we ate our traditional souvlaki and pita bread. Then we were off to the airport, leaving the island and the it’s wonders behind.