In “The Book of Wanderings”, Kimberly Meyer captures the story of her journey with her college-age daughter, Ellie, that retraces the steps of a medieval Dominican friar across the Mediterranean and around the Holy Land and through the Sinai Desert. Their modern-day experiences are neatly framed by flashbacks to the 15th century. The writing is rich with detail that brings far-away places to life, as well as the author’s own palpable longing for the road not taken. For me, it was heartening to learn of another mother-daughter duo successfully navigating so many different countries, including some frequently on travel advisories, and that the journey was deeply – albeit differently – meaningful to both of them. I appreciated her warning that one’s genuine desire to connect with others from different cultures will not always be reciprocated. Travelers are, after all, also customers with money to spend on goods and services – and that money can mean the difference between having meal or not to someone living on the edge. And Americans traveling abroad – regardless of our personal views – carry with them enormous geopolitical baggage that can, unfortunately, overshadow even the greatest goodwill towards others.
During an evening swim at Paleochora’s Sandy Beach, which is not among Crete’s most celebrated beaches, I nonetheless witnessed the most beautiful scene of our visit yet. The sun was setting behind the mountains, bathing the beach and its tidy rows of tiki umbrellas in golden light. Live music started playing from a beachside restaurant – something folksy with a fiddle and deep male voice. In the water near us, a Greek man with the blackest hair and beard and woman with long blonde ringlets and a hunched grandma immediately joined hands high in the air and started dancing. At the water’s edge, a couple started practicing a line dance, stepping to the side, skipping, and then stepping again to the side. A young boy near them neatly tapped his hand to the sole of his foot, first on the right side, then the left, while three little girls turned simultaneously in circles. Elise said “Mommy, dance with me!” With all that magic happening around us, how could I not? So we got out of the water and tied our sarongs around us as dresses and made up our own line dance (cross steps, kicks, dos-a-dos…), cracking up as we messed up or accidentally kicked each other. But a jogger passing by gave us a thumb’s up, surely just for effort given the virtuosity around us, but it felt good to be acknowledged as being a part of that lovely local scene.#nocamera #inthemoment #paleochora