The first really clear travel memory is from when I was seven but my mom has always done adventurous things like this…
When I was seven, my mom and two of her girlfriends decided to go to Greece for a week. They signed up for Greek classes and started to study. But they soon realized that one week would be much to short considering all the effort they were putting in for the trip. So they upped it to two week… but what about the 7 kids????
The answer of course was “Let’s take them too, but let’s go for two MONTHS.” So off we went in the summer of 1976, taking the last month off school, and planting some pumpkin seeds in the garden before we left. The three father’s couldn’t take that much time off work, so the poor guys stayed home and did some sailing around the Great Lakes.
I remember that trip so clearly and what amazes me now is how I thought it was just normal. Kids are so adaptable and what you teach through your actions becomes part of them. Thus, the travel bug was ingrained in me, as will as a spirit of adventure.
We spent a few days in Athens in a hotel, then took an overnight ferry to Crete, where we spent the entire two months. We lived in a pensione with a single mother and her two children, Nicos and Nifoula, who rented out three rooms to us for $2.50/night per room. We had many adventures during our stay, made friends with the locals, and played with the local children. I learned some Greek and crawled through the sewers at Knosses.
But one adventure really stands out… Donkey Island. (or so WE called it even though there weren’t any donkey’s there) I am not sure how it all came about but the 3 moms somehow organized for some fishermen to take us out to sea, drop us on a deserted island, and come back for us in the morning on their return trip.
I remember being dropped off and thinking “What if they don’t come back?”. We had a bagged lunch for dinner and our sleeping bags and that was it. There wasn’t a single other person, building, or road on that island. We explored and picnic’ed and slepy side by side in our bags on the beach, watching for shooting stars until we fell asleep.
In the morning, the fishermen did return, and cooked up some eel soup for us for breakfast. At first I wansn’t sure about eating eels, but it was the most delicious soup I have EVER tasted to this day. It was a light chowder like-soup with intense lemon flavour… cooked fresh straight from the sea and eaten barefoot in paradise.
When we returned to Canada at the beginning of August, our backyard was covered in pumpkins and I had a new outlook on life, although I didn’t realize it at the time. That experience opened more doors for me in the years ahead and looking back, I have my mom to thank for my adventurous spirit and the fact that thinking outside the box is normal for me.
To taking life by the horns and living by example,
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