On Monday, in accordance with regulations put in place by Greek authorities in Athens, many of the restrictions put in place to battle the coronavirus will be lifted. Here in Heraklion, citizens are eager to restart their normal routines, as is the everyone lockdowns have occurred.
This morning, I could not help but notice how cheerful most of our neighbors seem, with new hope dawning. On Crete, largely because of the people’s adherence to restrictions applied by Athens, there has not been a recorded case of COVID-19 in some weeks now. Akis (feature image) was first person I talked to this morning, the bakery owner across the street, shared his enthusiasm for next week’s changes when I went to shop for bread.
A hardworking young man, Akis is at this shop without the help of his father and mother, who are staying home to avoid the virus that has been so deadly to older people. From about 4 a.m. until late each evening, this super friendly man bakes hundreds and hundreds of breads and pastries, all by himself these days. He and often talk about how we cannot wait to explore Crete’s secluded beaches when the lockdown is all over. And no beach is ever out of reach of Akis and his American made Jeep Wrangler.
After grabbing some bread from Akis, I headed back across the street to the corner markets owned by Sergios and his wife Neftheria. Here my tough Cretan friend runs a convenient market where we get necessities from. Always quick with a cutting joke, Sergios is the quintessential shopkeeper. Sharp with money, and the weighing of all things of value, we often discuss world and Greek events. Today, he was uncommonly bright, and I assumed this was because of the coming potential too. I grabbed some wonderful Cretan bananas for Mihaela and Paul, and headed up the street for a cappuccino, since coffee is the only essential on Crete island not completely regulated during these trying times.
At Hacienda La Minita I found our friend Elini beaming on account of a bright sunny day and the prevailing atmosphere of positivity. After so many weeks of gloom and doom, the vegetarian fitness queen who runs one of Heraklion’s best shops seemed ready to hit the beaches herself. Elini, who comes from the village of Sisses near Rethymno, favors the less touristy Almirida Beach or Alyki Beach, and other secluded ones nearby.
For this story, I wanted to catch a photo of other friends along our street, but until restrictions are lifted, there just aren’t so many establishments open. I can only fear for all our friends, once the full economic impact of this pandemic hit. But we seldom speak of this. Cretans persevere, no matter what. So, when Monday comes I know a little of the load will be lifted. And this is good enough.