The pool area was very quiet the morning after the Greek Evening, for reasons you can probably guess? There was much wine being drunk and a few very worse for wear individuals by the end of the evening -- fortunately I was not one of them.
Yannis was leaning on the bar waiting for customers. He turned on the music as I chose my sun lounger. My hubby and daughter followed on but it was like we had the whole place to ourselves -- it was 9.30am. The sun was beating down, just one more day and we'd be home -- oohh! what a thought.
I had my usual strawberry milkshake and my hubby had a breakfast, "Where does he put all this food?" I wondered. My daughter drank fresh orange and moaned about going home. The mood was rather solemn knowing that this was the last full day -- holiday over!
The pool area began to fill up with people, and we decided to go into town for some some last minute gifts. I always bring olive oil home with me and also some georgeous Greek honey. Steph had decided to buy her friends at college a purse each, so off we went on our little shopping trip. We stopped by a taverna which had swinging hammock style chairs, I loved this place most of all and never wanted to move. I watched the sea crash in against the rocks, I could have stayed there forever!
We wandered back to the apartment, bags in hand, and I'd already begun to pack our things away. I was determined that we wouldn't be on the last minute and we'd enjoy the last night, so I placed all the clothes we needed on the beds. The bus was to pick us up at 11.30 in the morning. The flight home was 3.15 in the afternoon. I checked the tickets to confirm.
We wandered over to our Greek friends whom we've known for 5 years. Their welcoming hugs always makes me sad to leave and Stella always makes a little buffet of cakes, fruit and Raki out on the patio. She'd made little olive oil biscuits, and we play a game guessing the ingredients. Her English isn't good but improving each year. Manolis on the other hand, speaks excellent English and translates most of the conversation.
"I am diabet," she said. I knew what she meant as she refrained from eating any of the sweet things.
"I cannot eat," I said and her face turned to sorrow as I revealed my peg tube. I'd never told them about my problem but I felt now was the right time. I'd always made excuses in the past and I was sure she thought that I didn't like her food. She uttered something to Manolis and although my Greek is not good, I understood what she said.
"Pos-ton-lanie?" -- meaning what is the name! She was quite taken aback when I replied, "E-sa scleroderma Stella!" -- I have scleroderma. I knew sclero was a Greek word meaning hard skin so she would understand.
"Your Greek is much better" Manolis said "You understood what Stella said and she understands you!"
My daughter moaned, "Here we go all Geek again."
The air was becoming quite sad. I didn't want sympathy, just an excuse for not eating Stella's biscuits without causing offence.
"Ima Poly kala," I said (Very good)
Her face lit up and I received an even tighter hug. Phew! Situation relaxed as my hubby popped grapes in his mouth one after the other. Manolis poured another Raki
"You go home tomorrow?" He asked "When you come back?"
I told him that we'd be back next year with more people than ever before. I explained our plans to hold Steph's 18th birthday celebrations in Crete along with her friends and ours. They seemed quite excited about that and made us promise to pre-warn them of our arrival.
I was so sad to leave Manolis and Stella. They waved till we were out of sight and with a huge lump in my throat, the reality of home was ever nearing. Saying farewell is incredibly hard when you love the people you have met over the years. Manolis and Stella hold a special place in my heart, such kind and gentle folk a world away from old England and the rat race of home.
The night was long as we stayed up later, cramming everything in. Going to bed now would mean that morning would soon come -- and it did!
The bus came on time. Our farewells and promises we left down a dirt track towards the coach. Glum faces each and everyone as we walked down the isle and we took our seats. I looked out of the window as the bus pulled away and the rep informed us of the procedures at the airport. We'd been so many times before that we already knew what to do, but listened all the same.
My hubby fussed as usual about the passports and tickets, if he asked me once more if I had them I'd scream. We arrived at the airport -- chaotic as usual! Everyone jostling for position, scraping legs with cases, children crying, people moaning -- I hate departures! We checked in eventually. My passport was scrutinised. "Oh yes." I'd forgotten about the dreaded passport photo. He looked me up and down and then glanced at the photo again. My heart missed a beat. One final look and he handed me the passport back -- Phew!
We went up the stairs to the duty free shop. Steph bought after shave for her boyfriend and I bought a bar of chocolate for the plane. Soon the announcement came for our flight -- this is it! We were taken by buses across the airport hardstanding to the plane. Its engines ticked over and the warm breeze blew around us as we boarded. My boarding pass showed the number of our seats. I sat by the window. Steve messed around with a bag trying to shove it in the overhead locker. Steph fiddled with the seatbelt. I held my cardigan in my hand, checked my handbag for socks. The plane began to taxi. I stared out of the window. I could see the mountains and the blue sea and all the little houses by the airport. The trees swayed gently in the warm breeze. My last look from the ground.
The engines became louder and then we sped down the runway: Bump ---bump -----bump -bump-bump, the sound of the wheels on the concrete, then nothing as we rose into the air. The houses became small, the plane turned and I could see the little boats on the sea. I gazed at the isle as it's shores grew distant. Soon we were over the sea and high in the sky -- Bye-bye, Crete!
I gazed occasionally out of the window over the Austrian Alps and the coastline of Italy. The white clouds began to thicken and soon you could see nothing at all. It was almost 2.5 hours into the flight and the clouds began to turn grey. The air in the cabin turned cooler, I put on my socks. A shiver came over me, so I put my cardigan on. I cupped my hands around a disgusting coffee, my middle finger was numb, not even home yet and I'd had my first Raynaud's attack.
We landed on time at Manchester. The skies were gloomy but at least not raining. We collected our luggage, through passport control and then out of the airport. My fingers were dead by this time. Full blown Raynaud's, my toes as well. Welcome to the UK! a huge sign said. Mmmmm!
We arrived home just after 8 in the evening. First job was to light a fire. Everywhere felt damp, cold and although we were exhausted, we couldn't rest.
"Let's go out," my hubby said. So we did!
Raynaud's was home with a vengeance!