Greece and Morocco travel blog

Hotel Handakas. Our home for two weeks with Global Volunteers.

View by the pool.

Our room






Houses along our walk


The children at Tom's school

Authentic Greek dinner with the Global Volunteers

After a quick lunch and nap, we had a late checkout, and took a taxi to the Global Volunteers hotel. The taxi driver knew where it was, about 20 minutes drive west of Heraklion, in the town of Amoudara, but he was sort of appalled and asked why we were going to that hotel from such a nice one in Heraklion. We tried to explain that we with a volunteer group, and going to teach in the local schools there. Well, the Hotel Handakas was a bit of a letdown, but of course we got used to it after a day. It took awhile to figure out the heating unit, but have it down now. We must do our own laundry by hand, since there are no laundromats anywhere here.

We began to meet the rest of our team, and they are great - the usual men to women ratio, 3 men and 11 women. Our team leader, Samantha (Sam) was born and raised in Great Britain, came to Crete as a member of a dance troop, met her musician husband and never left. She speaks very fluent Greek, and her five children and husband all speak Greek at home. After a wonderful dinner provided by the hotel proprietor and his wife, we went to bed. and slept "like a log" after such a full day.

The next morning , we had breakfast, and then a team meeting with introductions, goal setting, and so on. The mayor's "right-hand man" came and welcomed us. They are the community host. They described the worksites and we all decided on our assignments at that point. A new feature this time around is working with 3 to 5 year olds in kindergarten, who of course know no English at all. Tom surprisingly opted for that, and Anne chose to be in a village up on the mountain at the village school, which has kindergarten through grade 6. We had the late afternoon free, so we walked around the area a little bit, but once again we were all exhausted, although this time it was a bit difficult to sleep what with all the anticipation of our first day in the schools.

It seemed that Murphy's Law works well in Greece too, because many people had glitches with their rides or worksites, ranging from a feeling of not being prepared for, to rides that did not materialize (like Anne's), to a priest headmaster who announced that the two people going with him to his village must be ready even before breakfast. Sam stayed poised about it all, and finally after phone calls, etc, we all got off, even though another two people were told to go home and not come back until Wednesday! (They did another school on Tuesday.)

Anne works with an English teacher (who is Greek), but very fluent and very enjoyable to be with. On Monday, she had no classes, in fact, so we talked a lot, looked at her teaching materials, met some of the children, supervised the playground at recess, and met some other teachers. It was actually OK, but not what she expected. It was also a Name Day, really a saint's day, and this time it was George which is a very popular name in Greece. All the George's brought treats to share. The kids are great, although quite noisy, and the acoustics of the building (like the hotel too) make all the sounds quite chaotic. The English teacher runs a good classroom, though, and on Tuesday, we went to 4 classes, getting to grades 3 through 6. There are 45 minute periods, and the teachers go to the classroom of that grade, so they have different teachers during the day. After first period, there is a recess, and then another after 3rd period. School starts about 9:00 and they are done at 1:30, although many stay for another set of classes after lunch. One hitch for Anne is that this English teacher is the librarian on Mondays, and goes to a different school on Thursday and Friday, so she will be doing kindergarten on the days she is not at this school!

Tom in a kind of opposite extreme (from teaching graduate students to teaching kindergarteners) opted to try something different. His school is all kindergarten with 150 students ranging in age from 3 to 6. The children are so adorable and Tom says, it's like having 20 grandchildren all at the same time. He decided to be the storyteller and has related the Three Little Pigs with the students acting out the parts.

Tonight we all took the bus into Heraklion for dinner and had real souvlaki at a small restaurant. It was nothing fancy, but it sure was delicious, and after walking to the bus stop, we finally made it back to hotel for a good night's rest.

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