So we've been here five days now. The house is... not so shambles-ish as it was at the start. Still a ways to go, but less of a "I can't find a single blasted thing that I'm looking for" feel. I'll take it.
The moving thing's not new to us; we've done it four times since 2008 (priors being to California from New Hampshire, within California, to Virginia). The difference with an international move is how much more complicated basic things are to figure out at first. You're like a toddler trying to make it in a grown-up's world. How do you work the washing machine... or dryer... or stove? What are the funny pictures on the instructions page trying to tell you? Where do you go to buy this or that, and once you've gotten there, how do you ask for the thing? <Repeat all day.>
And the toilets. Queries roll in on that topic from my previous post, so here's the deal: Greek plumbing pipes are much narrower than American pipes - evidently about half the width. Paper doesn't fit. So there's a bin next to the toilets where the used TP goes, and you empty that daily. Of course old habits die hard, especially where kids are concerned, so at this stage there's the inevitable *ahem* extrication of paper from the bowl a couple times per day. The flusher's also located in the center of the top of the tank, where one might normally put a rectangular basket or some such in a bathroom where storage's tight (it is in ours, and no medicine cabinets!). So no dice there.
Electricity in Greek is very expensive compared to the US; many people have warned us of the need to be uber frugal about it. So first off we're being - or in my case, trying to become - OCD about turning off light switches and requiring our kids to do the same. (Speaking of the lightswitches - here's a sample of the lightswitch situation in our house. It's basically a craps game whenever you're trying to illuminate a space.) Second we're trying to avoid using the dryer, a huge energy suck. Since it's 95 degrees outside, clothesline drying's a viable option... It just means getting used to navigating the clothesline scene. And with the washing machine being smaller than US versions with a cycle twice as long, all of a sudden laundry is a different animal than I'm used to it being.
For grocery options, you've got Greek grocery store chains, smaller Greek markets, the commissary on the base (which I've yet to get on), and good old Amazon prime, which - bless it - ships to arrive here in 10 days or less. At this point I'm a novice in knowing what to buy, where it's available, and how to get it least expensively. When I go to review a Greek receipt to price check, here's what I'm looking at:
So. There we are. (PS. Notice, if you didn't already, the 24% tax on food items.) Deer caught in headlights at this point, but before long it'll be old hat I'm sure.
My husband does many things well; one is finding cars. He's a good enough mechanic to know when a vehicle's sound, and he's savvy on a purchase. We brought a vehicle over with us that fits our 6 family members, a Toyota Landcruiser, but the roads here are narrow and windy... And people like to pass at, from an American's perspective, inopportune times. For driving around town solo, and when I'm chauffeuring the kids, a smaller car's a better plan. We ended up with this Fiat. She ain't beautiful (and this photo doesn't even show the dent in her other side door), but she gets the job done. Bonus: she takes diesel, which is cheaper... Gas here, like electricity, is way more expensive than the US.
I drove for the first time today. The Fiat's a stick shift, and while I drive a stick, I hadn't driven one in one... seven or eight years? Maybe longer. Oh, and never in Crete. So I took her for a turn about the roads before my maiden voyage of picking the kids up from school (today was their first day, and my husband and I had dropped them off together in the morning.) It went pretty well. Takes some acclimation, seeing your speedometer in km instead of miles - a sudden, 'Ack, how am I going 80?!' before you realize. And I'd clean forgotten the workout your left leg gets when you're riving a stick!
The kids were troopers about starting school today, and overall they each had a solid first day. It's an international school of about a hundred kids (I'm guessing), K through 12, with a Greek section and an international, English-speaking section. The Greek section is comparatively larger. There are about 25 elementary kids in the international school, and they run it combined classes (K/1st, 2nd/3rd, 4th/5th). In Virginia our oldest three kids were in a one-room-schoolhouse setting, fourteen kids from K through 5th. So while it's a small school, it's still bigger than they're used to. Our kids' three teachers (the oldest two share one) seem lovely and capable; all were very accommodating of our coming into the year a week late.
Other events from the weekend - hitting downtown Chania yesterday (see this posts' header photo), visiting one of the international churches, going to the local neighborhood monastery (Agia Triada, the Holy Trinity) - will have to air at a later date. I'll leave you a peek of the monastery though - dates back to the 1600's, still active today, and really beautiful.