We zoomed down from the green mountains of the interior of Crete, through the mass of hot houses and into the coastal village of Timbaki. We found "Jane's Super Mini-Mart" tucked behind the main street. Next to it was a Vespa parked near a circle of old widows chattering away, all shrouded in black. Inside, Jane (an American who came to Crete 25 years ago on vacation, met a Cretan man and never left) was busy punching purchases up on the cash register and un-packing shipments to restock her store. We spoke with her in broken sentences--interrupted by the constant flow of customers--bringing greetings from our mutual friends and asking for a recommendation on a guest house. She pointed out that nothing would be open in the "off-season" (as we had already encountered in other villages) and insisted that we stay with her and her family.

So we jumped back into the car, loaded down with their groceries for the night and headed back through town, following the glowing, orange chain of street lamps to their doorstep. And what a doorstep! Their house was a huge, American style home, (the kind you might pay half a million dollars for in California) nestled into the Cretan countryside. Dogs, cats, lambs, kids and every other life form in their house gushed out of the front door to meet us.

We made many friends in Crete. In the mountain village of Vizari where we stayed one of our favorites was Maria, here with her donkey and goats after a day of working her olive orchards.

The Kallionakis family is made up of an American mother (Jane), a Cretan father (Nikos), five children ranging in age from 9 to 15 (Kriti, Dimo, Maggie, Arianna and Eleni) three dogs (plus some new puppies), three cats, one lamb (Bella) and some birds. For the first time in seven months Cassidy and I had people our own age to be with. We were a little unsure at first, worried we may have forgotten a few of our social graces like eating with a knife and fork versus our hands and feet?

It was nice to be away from adult conversations, they can be sooo boring, and to just play for a while. We vegged out on American movies, did puzzles, listened to music, took walks, made chocolate chip cookie dough, and talked until two in the morning. It was like a vacation from a vacation. A little piece of home in the middle of the unfamiliar.

Cassidy (in the middle) and her two new friends, Maggie and Arianna hit it off quickly.
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