We were devastated….how stupid to stuff all that fat money into a small wallet – in the middle of a busy train station no less. One minute we were happy wanderers, the next we felt like idiotic fools.
On a broad scale, the violation was small. It was the slashed scrim of naive innocence through which we’d viewed Athens and its people that pained us. The world was no longer a safe and magical playground we could explore giggling and unaware.
It took us a while to regroup. We bought travel wallets that tucked under clothing, received new identification and planned our next steps. The three days of waiting in Herakleon was a disappointment. Nobody spends three days in Herakleon, a port which leads by road or sea to the true beauties of Crete. As soon as we could, we headed for Agia Galini where I hoped we’d find healing shelter for our bruised souls.
Agia Galini means peaceful harbour. Legend has it that King Minos banished Daedelus to this calm place because there were neither access roads nor winds to allow him to escape by water. The huge rock from which the doomed Icarus took flight is visible from any vantage point in the village. We found the very hotel where I’d stayed, now run by the daughter I’d met as a little girl.
Over three days we wandered the countryside, climbed the Icarus rock and ate in deserted tavernas. We also mulled over the meaning of our experience. Yes, we’d loved the sense of innocence so brutally ripped away, but had we gained anything?
There was the gift of a kind young man who led us to the police station and stayed with us as translator right through the reporting process, without asking for or accepting the payment we offered. There were the unexpected and delightful discoveries in Heraklion, a city we’d planned to breeze through. There was the more grounded sense of balance with which we’d now move through our travels and perhaps our lives.
In retrospect, we remember our experience with gratitude as well as regret. We had three days of bliss, then three days of awakening from a momentary rude experience, followed by several months of travel adventure and discovery. Where would the story be if all had gone smoothly?
Later in the journey, we even surmised we were protected from more violent encounters. On an evening stroll along Heraklion’s harbour front just a few days after the theft, it seemed we were being followed. We trusted our heightened awareness and ducked into a bright restaurant until it was safe to leave.
Now when I think of the words – walking by faith, and not by sight, I remember the guidance whispered in my ear, ‘hold that backpack close to the chest. I remember Roland’s insistence that we get off the dark street.
Life will always provide us with rude awakenings. As I walk by faith, I trust that at some point, there will always be a safe harbour in which to heal.