I backpacked across Europe in my twenties. One of my 
adventures included my one and only experience with hitchhiking.

Heraklion, Crete’s largest town

Heraklion, Crete’s largest town

I was nearing the end of 
my travels. I had worked my way across the continent and made it to the Greek isles to laze on the beaches. The last stop before
 traveling back to the States was to Crete. My traveling buddy, 
Leslie and I heard it was beautiful, affordable; full of beaches to
 soak up the sun and it was famous for hiking with its mountains and 
gorges. After six months of travel, my bank account had dwindled;
 so free things like sunning and hiking sounded like a great way to 
end this adventure.
Crete is a very large 
island, with few large towns. It is full of beautiful, wild scenery 
dotted with small villages. One fishing village was known among
 savvy travelers for its great beaches and being somewhat off the 
beaten track. Leslie and I stepped off the bus and walked to 
the closest tiny Inn with its attached open-air restaurant. It 
looked like a nice place to stay and over a meal we visited with
 the owner. She offered us a job on the spot. We just had to wait 
tables for lunch and dinner and could stay for free.
Still rural and traditional

Still rural and traditional

This was a traditional Greek 
fishing village that earned some money off the tourists. The
 European tourists were use to the topless beaches elsewhere and 
felt free to bare-all despite frowning from the local 
babushka-wearing women. No one seemed to mind the local men peering
 out from the bushes at the edge of the beach, except perhaps the
 local women. For the record, I was the only woman in a one-piece
 bathing suit—but that’s a story for another day.
We met a New
 Yorker one day at the beach. He was visiting his grandmother who
 had never left the island. We made plans to hike the Samaria Gorge the next day.

We stopped by to get him early the next morning and his grandmother
 chased us away with a broom. She wanted to keep those wild wanton
 American hussies away from her grandson. He escaped her watchful 
eye and the hike was spectacular. The only thing wild about the
 hike was the scenery.
Over the days we
 were there, we settled into a comfortable routine. Sunning in the
 morning and afternoon, waiting tables at lunch and dinner, and
 sitting and visiting with the Innkeeper and family in the evenings.
 At some point we needed to go into town and went to wait for the
 bus. We waited and waited and waited. We saw the Innkeeper waving 
her thumb in the air. We got the message, we stuck our thumbs
 out and in a few moments a small Greek man in a tiny pick up truck 
pulled over to give us a ride.
He didn’t speak English and our 
Greek was pretty nonexistent. There was lots of smiling and nodding 
and he understood the name of the town we wanted to go to which was
 about 10 miles away. He drove very slowly. I sat next to the door
 and was just admiring the scenery. I noticed he pulled a notebook 
out from under his seat and was showing it to Leslie who was 
sitting snug up next to him and almost straddling the stick shift.
 I glance at it and thought he was showing her his English lessons.
Then I felt her body stiffen and sit up straight. She said in a
 loud hissing whisper, “did you look at this??!!!” So I took a 
closer look. It was indeed his language book. It had handwritten 
pages in French, in Italian, in Spanish and in English with the 
Greek translation beside it. On each page and in each language it 
Hello. How are
You are very pretty.
Are you having a nice visit on 
Would you like a cup 
of coffee?
Would you like to
Our reaction quickly told him that 
someone had misinformed him about those wanton American hussies. He 
stepped on the gas and we were in town in no time.
As I think back I wonder 
if he ever got lucky. As we say in the South, “bless his heart.”
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