Today, for the first time in over six weeks, we can go outside our homes on Crete without preparing official explanations for our trips in advance. Today the restrictions on movement began to be eased. There are still as many “don’t’s” as there are “do’s,” but one feels a step has been taken back in the direction of normalcy. We still can’t travel from one prefecture to another without permission, but we can at least jump in the car if we wish and take trips around our own regions. For those of us in Chania and the Chania Prefecture, that opens up a lot of opportunities for shaking off cabin fever – Elafonisi, Balos, Falasarna, Sfinari, Kedradosos, Paleochora, to name just a few… Beginning today, also, we can swim in the sea as long as we don’t become part of lumpen crowds of flesh lying in close proximity on the sand. Small stores – including bookstores! – are back open today. There are several more stages to go through before a real return to “usual” takes place, and, even then, many restrictions will continue to apply. But it now appears that the first tourists will be allowed to enter Crete on July 1. As I understand it they will have to present certificates of health at entrance – so expect some bureaucratic delays upon departure and arrival, but that will be a big turn back to normal. One expects that distancing measures, masks and maybe gloves, will remain a part of our lives for a very long period. One fervently hopes that this will be enough to keep the evil Plague at bay.
The weather, though not quite full-on summer, has turned spectacular in recent days and weeks. I would call it pre-summer weather – lots of sun, quite hot when the sun is direct, gorgeous cooling zephyrs, beautiful skies, sunups and sundowns, the calm, clear waters of the Sea of Crete…
Now, it is possible in the winter – during cold, rainy, windy weather – to go out for a walk in Chania and encounter no one. It’s one of my favorite seasons, and I do love having this spectacular city all to myself. But never have I seen it as I did yesterday, on the last day of strict lockdown, blazing sunlight, warm to hot temperatures, high, wispy, summery clouds – and NO ONE on the streets. It was a ghost town, but for a few dogs and cats. Of course, there was the occasional couple or even young family out walking with copies of the required permissions in their pockets in the event that the police stopped them for questioning as to why they were out. But they were few and far between. It was much easier yesterday to shoot an utterly empty city than it would have been to capture human portraits on the streets. So here, maybe for the last time ever – I certainly hope so! – is a portrait of Chania in summer, utterly abandoned. My wife Oksana found it eery and depressing. I understood her point of view. But I was fully seduced by the never-ending beauty that this city always possesses.
Text and photos Copyright © John Freedman 2020. No use or reproduction of any kind without permission (which I will usually grant if you just ask!)