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It'll Be Some Time Before I'll Fit In!

Posted by Dinny, 09 November 2005 · 1,668 views

Living in Crete is wonderful. I love my house, I love the relaxed way of living, I love the weather and especially the surroundings, at least whenever I have the time to go out and enjoy them.

I've read everything I could put my hands on about living in Crete, about the way of living and how to fit in. But I realize that when your mind and mentality is Danish, your habits are Danish, the perception you have of live and how to live it is Danish.... then it will probably be a while before I fit in well. Sigh.

At first, there was "the cat question". When I moved into my house I very soon had visits from a bunch a tiny kittens. Tiny and starving, with mamma cat not paying any attention to their needs anymore. I don't know whose cats they are, but they certainly don't feed them. What will a Dane do to starving kittens? FEED THEM, of course!!! So that's what I did. The kittens are happy, I am enjoying very much having them around (outside!), so no problem with that. Well, word spread among the cats in the neighbourhood, so I have a waiting list of adult cats passing by to check if there are any leftovers. No problem with that either, there are no leftovers, and I don't do anything to attract more cats than the ones I've already taken to my hearth. BUT... my daughter tells me that sooner or later somebody in the village will be annoyed about these cats hanging around my house and will probably throw some poisoned food on my terrace, eventually. I hope she's not right about that, because I'll probably explode if it happens!

Having a guest. I was expecting a visitor and as any Dane would do, in consideration of the time of arrival I decided that buying some beers, some wine and some chips would be good preparation. Just by the book, the guest brought me "something", a small box. I am told that in Greece you are not supposed to open gifts in front of whomever is giving them to you, so I just said thank you and left the box on the table. To my surprise, my guest did not want neither beer nor wine, just coffee. Fine with me, I made coffee, and since I did not want coffee I had a glas of wine. We chatted along till we decided it was time to go somewhere for lunch. Curiosity then had the better of me and I peeked into the gift box to find some pastry which would have been just fine with the coffee. I realized that, in spite of advise received, I probably WOULD have had to open the box before, so we could have enjoyed the cakes. In Denmark, any guest would have suggested to get the cakes brought for the coffee, but apparently this would not happen in Greece, and I felt a bit awkward not having offered to share the cakes!

When to say hello. No advise given on that, and I'm having difficulty in finding the right way. I live in a village, not big but not very small either. There is a lot of people in this village I have never seen, a lot I shall probably never see or maybe see by chance once a year. I don't get out a lot, so I don't get to know people very easily, but in the morning I go for a walk around the village to get some movement before I start the day's work. Naturally, I greet anybody I know with a smile and a kalimera, but am I supposed to greet anybody just passing by even if I have no idea of who they are? If I don't I'll probably be judged as the highnosed stranger, and if I do I'll probably be judged as a bit crazy. I remember that as a child growing up in a village in the countryside you would greet ANYBODY you met, but that was ... ehm... MANY years ago and in Denmark.

It's not so easy to fit in. But maybe I would gain a lot if I pretended to be a helpless stranger asking for help and advise from anybody?


Dear Dinny,

the guest who brought you the cake, did it as a gift to you and there is no rule that it should be served with coffee. Don't worry about rules so much, after all you came to Crete to enjoy the feeling of freedom that the island offers.

In a village people know each other and they greet each other on every occasion. At least this is how it used to be in the past. Today with foreign communities increasing in every village and town in Crete, things have started to change. I am sure that some people in the village you live may not greet you, bit because they do not like you, but probably because of the language barrier. They will probably assume that you don't speak Greek, so talking to you will be difficult to them.If I were you I would continue greeting everyone I meet. Some of the will be shy but they will open up to a friendly "kalimera" and a smile. Soon you may find yourself gossiping with the old ladies in the village and becoming part of the community.

Hi Dinny

I agree with Yiannis, keep saying Kalimera and most of your new neighbours will reply.

Last March I took in a stray puppy and I have to take him out for a walk twice a day. While I am not shy, I never would have spoke to any strangers on the street, unlike in Ireland where you speak to anybody that catches your eye. As I walk the dog round the same area every day I have got on 'Kalimera, ti kaneis' terms with a lot of people that live in the area. Two old men that sit on the beach road every day, a old lady that lives down the road from me and we now stop for a chat if we meet, a couple of girls that work in the mini market, a few people that are walking their dogs at the same time as me, lots of people. This is a lovely way to practise your greek and one old gentleman, whom I have got to know over the months, asked me if I would clean his windows for him one day!

I love reading your blogs, it is so refreshing to read of your happiness to be living here.


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