Ergh. That’d be the last ferry I plan to be on for a while. After some much-needed grub, another attempt to scrub up in my favourite plumbing facility, and a couple of deserved Amstels – to help me sleep of course. But I don’t. It’s f-f-f-f-reeeeeeeeezing. They couldn’t turn down the air-conditioning at all, could they? I take out everything in my pack that doesn’t smell too much, and sport something of the layered look. Oh, so 1986. And, to no avail. The Nazi (head honcho) won’t let me seek a warmer area of the ship. Jaysus. So I hang out in my favourite plumbing facility as often as I can, just to keep warm. Finally, someone lets me lie down in one of the aisles for a bit of kip.
Anyway, I make it. Felt like I was coming home. Heraklion’s open arms never felt so all-embracing. Now all I have to do is get back to Hersonossis – and there’s a bus pretty much immediately. I stomp up the hill to my neglected apartment. On opening the door I fall in. I dump packs, rip off clothes and shower. The water’s lukewarm of course, but a shower no less. I scrub my hair like a rape victim in a B-grade Hollywood flick, and soothe my blisters. Ah, nice one. Shampooed hair, clean feet, what a difference.
I still can’t seem to sleep. I think my body’s clock discarded the notion indefinitely! I lie for a little, then decide to make the most of my remaining hours. I wander around in search of water and mid-afternoon breakfast. I think some souvenir-shopping might tire me out. And how! Perhaps I could watch the World Cup – that’s bound to put me to sleep. Bored again! I suppose I should enjoy one last meal, one last glass of wine and get rid of my last drachmas. Another unsuccessful hunt for pesco-vego food, as all the restaurants are literally closing and running out of the menu items. It appears the whole country is turning off its summer lights. I finally settle on Gemista (stuffed tomatoes/peppers) which, I have to say, was gorgeous.
I pass a bar on my way, and on hearing my accent a complete stranger says, "Where are you from?" which makes a change from people speaking in Irish to me – thinking, because I’m part of a package group I must be Irish, and wondering why I respond with a puzzled expression that says, "I don’t know what you just said!"
"Oh, you’re staying at the Mika Villas."
"Er, yes," I mutter with some reserve.
"You know Sean."
"Sean, the Irish barman."
"Oh, him, the guy that nearly killed me with alcohol poisoning on my first night. Is that his name? How do you know?"
So I pop in for a Sex on the Beach and a Summer Ecstasy, possibly the most unfitting summation to my holiday, but there you go.
Ever so suddenly, I am absolutely and totally wrecked, and would you believe, I crash like a trooper! After what feels like the best 10 minutes of sleep in the world, I hear the movements and mutterings of fellow package-people gathering their belongings and heading for the bus.
Which means it’s 2am. Which means I have to remove myself from what feels like the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in.
Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god. My head is wrecked. I feel quite ill. Must be overtired. Hang on, I feel really ill. What did that guy put in my drink? Or was it the food? Oh no. I’m gonna be sick. I think. Or at least, oh no. I have diarrhoea. My stomach feels very dodgy. This can’t just be a hangover. I had two drinks! I think I’m going to vomit. Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god.
Somehow I drag myself and my belongings to the bus, where I sit in a nauseous heap until we reach the airport. I slump on the bench until everyone’s checked in, to avoid standing up. I ramble to our waiting point, where I slump on another suitably uncomfortable bench – you know that feeling when your pillow feels like limestone! I stagger to and from my favourite plumbing facilities a number of times. Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god, could I just be sick and get this over with? I hate that "waiting to be sick" feeling. Am I just overtired? Surely not. I need more water.
Time to board. At last. We get on a bus for about 50 metres? I’m slumped on the floor, with people’s legs and bags around me. I board the plane. Just before I reach my seat, some aul’ one is making hassle about seat allocations. Leaning, I wait for her to sort herself out as the queue behind me gets restless. Yeah, well, I’d like to fucking sit down too, okay!
I sit. No, I fall. My head cannot rest anywhere without pounding, aching. I still need to be sick. I’m getting a fierce migraine. Somehow, doubling over, with my head where my bum should be in the seat, allows me to be as close to horizontal as I need to be. I have to lie down as best as one can – in an aeroplane! Ow. Ow. Ow. I’ve nearly reached tears, I’m so tired and feeling so low and so sorry for myself. I run, well, no, stagger quickly, to the loo. Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god.
I’m pale, even though I think I actually got some colour somewhere along this relaxing holiday.
When will this go away? The people next to me think I’m about to pass away. I can’t be sure they’re wrong.
The smell of breakfast being offered – and readily declined – makes me want to throw up some more. Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god. I drink the juice. Half a roll with butter, some scrambled egg. I think it’s actually helping, though it takes more of a vertical effort than I’m capable of to ingest. I’m getting there.
By the time we reach Dublin, I think I’ll be able to stand, walk and find my way home.
I wobble down to Immigration. Oh, here we go. It’s okay. I’ve thought ahead. I photocopied my company’s work permit, so I’m all prepared. Too prepared it would seem. This buffoon thinks it’s fake! "How can I tell if that’s you in the photo?" Bloody hell, I can’t think straight enough to speak…
"Look mate, firstly, this permit – that you’ve obviously never seen in your life, hence your obligation to hassle me – is the possession of my company, and I only have a copy "cos I used foresight, and don’t tell me you can’t key in my details to see how many Australian, Jeanette Therese Bergmans, born on xx.xx.xx, with a passport number that just happens to match the one I’m carrying, are working for ‘Employee X’ in the ‘X Department,’ as this work permit, validated by the Department of Enterprise, Employment and Trade, clearly STATES!"
Well, that’s what I would’ve liked to have said at the time, if I hadn’t been falling about on the floor. Aaaaaargh, please just let me get home!
So, "Inspector Xenophobia" stamps my passport, saying I can only enter Ireland on the condition that I enter into a study course and must not enter employment or conduct business, for no longer than 30 January 2000.
What? I just showed him my authentic work permit that says I can stay in Ireland to, erm, work, until May 2000!
I decide to take up the issue some other time and continue through the labyrinth that is the nature of airport terminals. I squat on the ground, and very nearly cry. I get to baggage collection, and no, my baggage hasn’t been left in Crete or stolen and nobody’s tried to smuggle heroin in it.
Well, that’s nice.
I need a taxi. Immediately. I go to the ATM first. Only to find the bank just happened to be robbed this morning so it is "temporarily out of service". Of course it is. What was I thinking. I do make it home however, and the cab driver didn’t abduct me.
I’ve gotta be grateful for that!