Sep 30 2007
Between jetlag and work and not knowing what in the world we’re doing, besides a few feeble attempts at locating bars, Ben and I haven’t had much in the way of a nightlife while in Hania. So we vowed yesterday to go out last night in earnest.
The night began with the questionable decision to consume the entire complementary bottle of raki the waiter brought us after dinner. Having already drank a half liter of house wine, we sat on the restaurant patio taking painful shot after painful shot and discussing, for what I now realize was an irrationally long time, the best tactics for Ben to achieve his new desired hairstyle: the faux-hawk a la Maddox Jolie-Pitt.
“I’m fine! Raki ain’t nothin’!” Ben said, as we left the now-empty bottle on the table of the fish taverna and started walking towards the harbor. I was certainly woozy and thought he needed to stop posturing and I was quite sure that some sort of pomade would be the best styling implement for a faux-hawk – all of which I was relating to Ben when I suddenly realized he was no longer walking beside me. I turned on my heels to see Ben, a block back, in his only nice pair of pants, crouching on all fours, studying something on the ground.
“I think it’s a tree frog!” he whisper-yelled to me. A group of French people walking by looked at me piteously and scurried past Ben. It turned out to be a piece of trash.
Hania’s harbor-front bar scene is dominated by places touting themselves as “Scandinavian dance clubs.” We’ve yet to figure out their appeal, as most restaurants in Hania vie for the most “authentically Cretan” title. “Where IS Scandinavia anyway?” I asked as we walked past the thumping house music of clubs like “DANZA” and “Klik.”
“Uh, Norway.” Ben replied.
“Huh?” I said.
“I mean, Sweden.”
“Sweden is not Scandinavian.”
“You’re not making sense.”
“You ask too many questions for a girl,” he said. And then I kicked him into the harbor, so that’s the last you’ll be hearing from Ben for a while.
The only people more annoying than the restaurant greeters (mentioned in a previous post of Ben’s) are the dance club greeters who accost and unrelentingly try to recruit you. We’re pretty good at ignoring them while collecting all the “Free shot!” coupons they hand out. It was strange, then, that the greeting of one such club employee made us simultaneously stop and turn around. “Hey guys,” he said, “Y’all should come in here!” We stared at the man: was his accent an American one? Did he just say “y’all”??
Let me explain: there are no Americans here. The overwhelming majority of tourists are French or German. English-speaking tourists are from the UK. We haven’t met a fellow American since arriving in Greece. It’s not as if I dislike European tourists or particularly care for American ones. But after constantly struggling to understand what everyone around me is saying and feeling isolated by the fact that I grew up on a different continent, I crave anything familiar. I miss the insta-bond of shared experiences, perspectives and geography. Ben and I rushed over to the greeter. “Where you guys from?” he said.
“The States!” we said, excitedly and in unison. “What about you??”
Well, it wasn’t ideal, but close enough. He then added, “actually, an American girl just went upstairs, you guys should definitely…”
Sold! We ran upstairs without waiting for him to finish and were quickly introduced to a girl from New Jersey. Kathy was equally excited to meet us and we spent most of the next hour talking at each other and reveling in familiar sounds and names of places. I resisted the urge to hug her and declare Kathy to be my new best friend.
After a couple more drinks courtesy of Sasha, the doorman who enticed us into the bar, and his friend Mike, a Russian/Jewish/Canadian DJ, I excused myself to the bathroom. I was already elated to have met a Canadian and an American (an East Coaster, no less!) in the span of one hour when I heard the humming of a distinctly familiar song coming from the bathroom stall.
Ignoring all accepted rules of bathroom decorum, I yelled over the stall walls: “You’re singing Dave Matthews! I KNOW HIM!!!!” I was apparently disregarding the truth as well, as aside from a few fleeting glances of the singer, I do not know Dave Matthews. “I’m from Charlottesville!!” I continued, despite his lack of response.
“Ah, Virginia,” said the chubby American as he came out of the stall.
“YES!” I said, smiling like a crazy person.
“So are you a U.Va. or Virginia Tech fan?” he asked. I was beside myself with giddiness at the mention of my treasured back-home sports rivalry.
“UVA! I WENT TO UVA!!” I shouted, my voice reaching an excited crescendo rivaling that of a howler monkey.
“Well, at least you’re smart?” he said, backing away from me and returning to the bar. Despite my impulses to run after him and talk about my dear alma mater and how awesome Virginia is and how yes, I really am SO smart, my bladder reminded me that, in doing so, I’d probably pee my pants. When I returned to the bar to find the mystery man from home, he had, unfortunately, vanished. This did not stop me from scurrying over to Ben and doing some sort of raki-induced jumping dance as I related the entire experience. Our new friends looked on in bewilderment. I’m surprised we didn’t break out into the Good Old Song.
Apparently I had interrupted the first man-time Ben has enjoyed this trip. “Man-time” with Mike and Sasha involved Ben witnessing the following conversation:
Mike: You know what we need right now?
Sasha: Um… women?
Mike: No, not women.
Sasha: [pause] … Sandwiches?
Mike: No, Sasha, not sandwiches!
Sasha: [long pause] … Strippers?
Mike: No! No Sasha! Not strippers!
Ben never did find out what they needed. We may find out today, as they’ve invited us to an anti-racism festival in the city park and the subsequent Reggae after-party. I’m not sure exactly what sort of tolerance they’re promoting as, outside of tourists, Greece is homogeneously… Greek. I am looking forward to getting a souvenir Bob Marley poster, as well as to the possibility of spotting Greeks with dreadlocks.