In the summer of 2007, my sister and I took our kids to Ikaria for a vacation. We traveled with her twins, who were 4, my daughter, who turned 5 while we were away, and my son, who was 7. Entertaining kids that age for long periods of time can be quite a challenge. We knew that they would enjoy swimming, so we planned to spend the day at the beach. The “beach” in our village is very rocky, so we’d have to travel to another beach, quite some distance away, via a rented car. The beach in Armenistis not only had sand for playing, but it also had a food cart that sold “cheese toasts” that the kids would eat! When we picked up the car, my father noted that the gas tank was on empty–well, almost empty. My dad assured us we’d have plenty of gas to make it to the beach, and then he immediately told us not to put anymore than 10 euro of gas into the car if we needed it. Why? Because if we got the car with no gas in it, then we were going to return it with no gas in it! So, being the good daughters we are, we heeded his advice. We traveled the 20 km to the beach, and the kids had a great time playing in the sand and swimming in the sea. When it was time to leave, we packed up and squeezed into the tiny car like sardines. After a few minutes of travel, we looked at the gas gauge and decided that we really needed to put that 10 euro of gas into the car because the needle was now below the E. We were still a good 18 km from our house when I pulled into the gas station. A woman came over to the car, and in my very poor Greek, I told her we needed 10 euro of gas. She replied, “No gas.” I looked at her and said, “No, we NEED gas.” And then she said, “No gas ’til Tuesday.” It was only Saturday.
That explains what it’s like in Greece. Nothing is simple. Nothing is easy. And nothing is even remotely like it is in America. Greeks are notorious for not getting things done quickly–otherwise known as getting things done on “Greek time.” I anticipate many more experiences like that one over the course of the year!
My sister and I looked at each other and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. We managed to make it to another gas station (the only other one on that side of the island) and put 20 euro of gas into the tank!
The kids in Armenistis, Ikaria, summer of 2007.