My family is known for sporting some serious bad tempers, which you can chalk up on my Mom’s side to being Irish-American New Englanders, and on my Dad’s side to being: We-won’t-take-crap-from-anybody black-American New Englanders. Perhaps it all comes down to the salty New England attitudes, but that could be a generalization. Regardless, I always prided myself from escaping the dreaded bad temper mold in my own personality…..until I was in Greece. And in retrospect, it’s probably safe to assume that I might actually have a bad temper all along, I just chose to pretend it didn’t exist so that I could continue being proud of my individuality.
And then Greece happened. I was surrounded by Europeans in a big hotel by the beach in Rhodes/Rodos where we shared a breakfast buffet, would lay out next to each other by the massive pool, and would bump into them at the hotel supermarket. There were no Americans, at least not till the end of our weeklong sojourn, and by that time my heart was already crusted over in the angry bitterness perpetuated by the incredibly rude manners of my fellow travelers.
Now the purpose of me telling you this isn’t to complain about a vacation that most people won’t be able to take in their lives or come off as ungrateful, because I believe I’m lucky everyday to wake up in a country that isn’t as foreign to me as before, and slowly edges its way into my heart. No, the purpose is to talk about culture. And why I don’t understand that these crazy cultural differences have such a wide gap.
Here’s the bad: the hotel states that they don’t allow people to reserve beach chairs with towels for longer than 30 minutes, which I was really happy about until I got down to the pool at 9, and ALL of the chairs were reserved with towels. In fact, they were reserved for hours (especially the ones near the umbrellas) without so much as anyone showing up till noon. Now, I’m not a toucher of peoples’ things, so I sat at the cafe and would take short trips into our beautiful salt water pool so I could keep an eye on our stuff, you wouldn’t believe how annoying this was. So we started waking up earlier to catch some chairs, only to find that people woke up at 6am, put their towels down and wouldn’t come till much, much later. This is vacation, why on earth should we wake up at 5 am to reserve chairs for a pool? Some of these chairs didn’t see any action till 2 or 3 in the afternoon although a towel was on it since 6! How selfish!!! Eventually we did wake up one day seriously early and snagged an umbrella and two chairs, and you know what happened, a lady moved two chairs directly in back of ours, blocking us in and hitting us, so that her two daughters could be under the umbrellas. She even moved my chair, with me on it!, to make sure her daughter who was in the pool the entire time, would have shade while she abruptly pushed me into the sun. When they finally sat down, they kept kicking and hitting us, and my Kindle Paperwhite (acquired most happily as a birthday gift!) couldn’t get any attention or focus. We ended up being pushed out of our chairs.
And as for pushing, I got pushed, smacked, shoved and hit most of this trip. I got shoved down the stairs since my 2nd trimester pregnant butt wasn’t going fast enough, and I slipped and sprained my ankle. The woman who did so didn’t apologize and just stepped over me as if I weren’t human while I writhed in pain at the bottom. I got bumped by hotel employees while they were playing around with their coworkers, people walking side by side on a tiny sidewalk wouldn’t move aside to give me room quite often making me have to wait in a crevice for them to walk by, the breakfast buffet was a highly dangerous zone, no one would make room for the elderly or the obviously pregnant women to sit on the bus into the city, which saddened me to no end. There are no lines for most things like buses, or buffets here either, so people would just rush forward and knock you over in order to get to something first, and one man straight up hit me in my pregnant tummy just to get onto the bus before me. And I look pregnant, no way around that. And since I lived in NYC for nearly 2 years, in and around Boston my entire life, I suddenly missed the order and structure of boarding a bus or train there, where people were so much more polite!
I could go on and on with every terrible encounter I’ve experienced but you get the point. The G-Man told me that this is unfortunately a European thing, but I just can’t believe it. I mean I experienced some of these things in Germany, but not nearly to this degree. I was flabbergasted and I never felt so far away from home in my life. I broke down crying often, got angry with people just as often, and felt hopeless and ready to go back to Germany after the first day there and we were there a week! Everyday was a test of my patience and character, and I never want to expose myself to that sort of vulnerability again.
Now here’s the sweet notes; because we were so unhappy on this trip, it actually gave the G-Man and I something to talk and commiserate about. We laughed a lot more together, without the stress from his job and without the loneliness I cope with everyday since I’m out of work. This was a great thing for our relationship, to be back on an even playing field. Also the food at Tamam was delicious; the best service you could hope for and really yumtastic cuisine. AND they had crunch and cadbury bars in the supermarket of the hotel, and Reese’s peanut butter cups at the airport, things I haven’t been able to get a hold of over here, so I was very pleased with that. And although we had the hardest unbearable bed in my hotel history and one funny evening where a cicada was hanging out in our room, we didn’t fair poorly there. It wasn’t at all what I expected, and the heat was overwhelming to be sure which changed our plans a bit, but I don’t regret this vacation. It did relax us once we got some chairs by the water, and it definitely gave us time to find our relationship sparks that somehow evades us in everyday life.
Meanwhile back in Germany, I’m on to bigger and better concerns like- I”M HAVING A BABY IN GERMANY!! I have no idea what I’m doing, I don’t have a midwife still, and we don’t know where any of the hospitals are, we have nothing for the nursery yet, and I can’t believe I have to wear maternity clothes! Thanks for reading everyone, hopefully I’ll get this all sorted out soon.