What do you do when you get dumped, fired, and turn thirty in a single unfortunate week? You book the last available ticket on the next plane to Greece. Or at least that’s what the normally unadventurous Anna Cox does in a moment of uncharacteristic spontaneity. When she panics as she belatedly realizes that not booking a hotel room in a country she knows nothing about might not have been the best or smartest idea, the charming and easy on the eyes Englishman in the seat next to her comes to her rescue – he takes her to the rural island village in Crete that he calls home.
(I originally posted this blog entry on my website, and it has nothing to do with books or writing. But I feel strongly about the issue so I am posting it here too.)
Last week, someone asked me, “What is it like to live in an economic war zone?”
The first response that came to my mind was, “I don’t know. I live in Crete.”
Crete is officially a part of Greece. Having said this, Crete is Crete. Cretans are Cretan first, Greek second. They are proud of their island and their heritage, and rightfully so. Crete has a rich and colorful history. The island has been invaded by a cornucopia of foreign civilizations and all failed to retain their hold of Crete.
Cretans have survived and triumphed over worse circumstances than the current economic crisis. I’m not saying the island isn’t affected. I’m saying people have an innate resilience which has been passed on through the generations from one tumultuous point in their past to the next. And soon, in the grand scheme of things, this crisis will be just another blip on the horizon of history.
Of course, the economic situation is often discussed at length at my favorite neighborhood cafés in Chania. Some people complain bitterly, which is entirely understandable, but most people are handling their economic hardship with great stoicism and tolerance. So yes, we talk about the crisis. But it is not the only topic of conversation! There is so much more to Crete than Greece’s miserable economy.
It seems to me that Greece is now equated with chaos in the eyes of the world. Many who are observing from the outside wrongly assume the crisis is all there is to Greece, that the country is simply a mess to be criticized and avoided. To those people I say, “Shame on you for your ignorance.” You may only pass judgment once you have experienced Greece in person with your mind and eyes wide open.