Arriving at Annie’s father’s house at 6:30pm was a real relief as I knew the family would be taking part in the town’s Greek Orthodox Good Friday celebrations around 8pm and I didn’t want to mess up their plans for the evening by arriving too late. As it happened things worked out perfectly and I have just had possibly my favourite evening since starting my bike ride.
Annie’s father, formerly a civil engineer, is a real character who seemed to know everybody in town. We spoke through Annie’s cousin, the beautiful 13 yr old Niki and her equally beautiful 15 yr old friend Nena. Both girls spoke excellent English and throughout the evening showed a maturity and wisdom beyond their years. Fortunately they are also fervent One Direction fans so we had plenty to talk about on the musical front too.
The highlight of the evening was joining the whole family in the town’s evening procession of the Crucifix. Despite being a lapsed catholic and agnostic I attended. Niki and Nena looked after me explaining what was happening at each stage and I felt very privileged to be able to take part.
After the procession Annie’s father bought me dinner alone which I ate in the kitchen as everybody else was fasting. I know, I know but I couldn’t not eat, I was starving.
I have never met any of Annie’s family or friends before but tonight, because Annie asked, they took me in and treated me as one of their own doing everything they possibly could to make me feel comfortable. Now as I said I’m not a religious person but tonight I suspect I will fall asleep feeling somewhat blessed (and full).