Tuesday, July 13, 2010
AN URBAN MYTH CONFIRMED
You know the one, you wait for ages then three come along together. Well I missed the six thirty bus by minutes so I sat outside the ticket office in 24C cool and talked to a nice Iranian boy who was waiting to be picked up for work. He has been in Crete for three years and hopes that after the next Iranian election he will be able to return home. I told him about my former pupil, Nima Alavi, I wonder what you are doing now Nima? You were one of my bright memories in teaching. However a red utility drove up and the Iranian boy climbed in and set off for work. Moments later three buses arrived, So the urban myth is a fact in some places.
About a dozen people got on, probably commuters heading for work in Chania. The temperature climbed to 28C.
There was a thirty minute wait in Chania the a lot of us climbed in and began the three hour drive to Heraklion, along the coast, up steep hillsides with tempting glimpses of gorges full of wild flowers and creamy brown cliff sides. On the other side were little secluded bays full of swimmers and sun bathers. Along the tops developers were building new tourist hotels, tarting them up to look like ancient Venetian castles. At each village the bus would stop, people in shorts would get off and more people in shorts and sun tops would get on. By Rethymon the bus was full. A beefy young masn with a short pony tail took the seat next to me and began barking loud Greek into his cell phone. Two young women who looked like teachers on holiday took the last two seats. The one by the window curled up and slept. At the next village more people climbed on. When I looked again a young man who did not look Greek, had perched on the armrest of the seat in front of me. He was listening to his ipod with one earplug. The other earplug was in the ear of the young woman, Her friend stayed sleeping. The bus pulled up at yet another village and the young women got off, the boy shook hands and spoke to them before they alighted. I have got so used to hearing Greek it didn't register for a couple of minutes. He had spoken in English, with an Australian accent. He got off at one of the Herklion suburbs and the bus went on to the Heraklion bus station, past the ancient fort which has been scrubbed and restored for the tourist trade.
Heraklion is obviously geared to tourism. The station has differents counters with big signs in English and Greek showing where buses for the tourist sites leave from. There was a long queue at the Knossos counter, and another advertising a water park that from the posters was based on Disney. I heard a lot of different languages as I sought the toilets. A young nordic backpaker who must have been in a hurry barged in front of me at the swing doors, slamming them into me as she hurried in. She did the same thing coming out and almost sent a little girl sprawling.
The taxi rank was across the road.I found a driver who was fluent in English and off we went to the Heraklion Police Station, a large complex away from the city. I explained to the man at the gate, who looked like Maurice Shadbolt in police uniformm, that I needed to have my entry permit extended. He handed me a yellow card, pointed out the path, and in fluent English told me how to reach tourist police, first floor, turn right. I followed his directions to the building, up the marble steps, through the electronic door and up the stairs. There another
wonderfully courteous cop who looked like Sam Neill cast as Barnney Miller, redirected me to another corridor. There was an mother with her two young daughters ahead of me. At last a young woman in tight pedal pushers, a pink singlet and long black hair called me into the office. All the women police I saw were in pink singlets, a bit confusing when my pink singlet barked, 'Çome!'and dashed out the door. When I followed I didn't know which pink singlet in the hall way I should follow. She came looking for me however and led me to the office of a man who was obviously very senior his dark polished desk was so bare.
Why did I need my entry extended?
Because I wanted to go to Loutro to a writing workshop in September.
Where was I living now?
You have come to the wrong place. Is there a police station in Kissamos?
I haven't found one. (in fact I have not even seen a policeman in Kissamos)
Well if there is no police station in kissamos you should go to Chania
He wrote on a square of paper.
This is my name and telephone number, Tell the police if they do not know what to do do ring me. But three months is enough time to stay in Crete.
I hope he was joking.
I returned my yellow ticket to Maurice Shadbolt at the gate and he rang a taxi for me. I caught the 2.30 but back to Chania, connected with the Kissamos bus and arrived home at 6.25 in 33C heat, bought bread and tomatoes at the supermarket, walked home and slept.
Now I shall head off to town and ask for directions to the local cop shop.
And anyone reading this, Lonely Planet has got its instructions wrong. If you need to extend your residence go to the nearest police station, not Heraklion.