5 Years Living In Crete My Experience As A Black Woman
Hi, my name is Rose and I have been living in Crete for the last 5 years. This is my experience. I have been planning to write this post for a while now, because it was in March that I officially marked 5 years of living on this island. I have read many articles of people detailing their experiences living in different countries away from their home countries.
Most of the articles I have read are written by people of color describing their experiences living in Europe. So I shall share mine today.
Where It All Started, How I Moved To Crete
It all started with me meeting a guy online, and we got to know each other, and one thing led to another and the next thing I knew, I was packing my belongings, living my family and friends back home in Kenya, and moving to a place that I did not know. Also, it’s very important to add that I was not necessarily looking to relocate to Europe.
My situation would have been far better if I had been able to stay near my friends and family. I know most people believe that all Africans are desperate to move to Europe or to America, but that is not always the case. Anyway, going back to my story, I had read about Crete, but I had not gotten a clear picture of the place even from the YouTube videos that I watched.
You can never get to know a place or someone, until you actually spend time at the place or spend time with the said someone. So when I arrived in Crete on that cold March evening of 2015, I was not sure what I had gotten myself into but I was willing to learn.
Since I came from a part of Kenya where we have almost the same temperature all year round, I found it very cold, and grey in the wintertime here in Crete.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been to cold places in the past but, for some reason, I found it cold here, especially in the evenings. And to be honest I was having second thoughts, because apart from cold, there were other issues.
For example, where I lived in Kenya, I had access to almost everything I needed. But Here in Crete especially in the area where we live, it’s kinda secluded and there is no easy access to the things I was accustomed to like public transport, shops, etc.
The Challenges Of Living In Crete Without Being Able To Speak Greek
I have never been in a situation where I was not able to communicate with some of my neighbors. I found this fact very frustrating ( I still do) because I am a talkative person naturally, and when I can’t talk to my neighbors it really frustrates me. And the fact that the language is so difficult, makes things even worse.
Not being able to speak the language, can be very limiting, because you are not able to make friends freely, you can only make deep friendships with people who you are able to communicate freely with.
Also, you really don’t have access to information on what is going on around you. That kind of situation can limit your independence, and can make you feel like you are not totally free.
For the last 5 years, I have been trying to learn the language and I am still not fluent, And I don’t think I have a problem learning languages, I mean I speak 3 different languages already, so you would think that by now I would be fluent in Greek. My neighbors do try to help me learn and I do put effort but I am still not that great at it.
Enjoying Greek Cuisine
The food is great. I think the Greek cuisine is amazing, There are several Greek dishes that I really like, and I have even learned how to make them. Moussaka, and Pastichio, of course, Gyros, Stifado, souvlaki, Spanakopita, rizogalo(rice pudding), and a few others. Of course, there are some that I am not very fond of, but I will not list them lol
I love the Greek olive oil and especially here in Crete because the farmers are not so much in the practice of using chemicals on the olive trees. When it comes to Olive oil, I am lucky because I have a neighbor who gives me olive oil, and his trees are 100% organically grown, so the olive oil is superb.
The next thing that is super amazing here in Crete is the honey. The Cretan honey is one of the best honey I have tasted, it actually reminds me of my grandfather’s beehives.
My late grandfather had several beehives when I was growing up and the honey harvesting day was my favorite day because my grandfather would give me a piece of the wax thing, you know the white thing with holes, and then I would eat the honey from it, yummy that was amazing 🙂
So that is what Cretan honey reminds me of.
Have I Experienced Racism Or Discrimination In Crete As A Black Person?
No, I have never experienced or felt any kind of discrimination from the Greek people here in Crete. I actually felt very welcomed. The Greek people who could speak English wanted to know more about me and my country, and they told me that I was welcome to Crete, and that if I needed any help, I can count on them.
The only time that I can say I feel some type of way, is when I am traveling. At the airport, I do feel singled out for being black. I would be sitting amongst many people but they would single me out and demand to see my papers(and not in a nice way). also, they would physically search me and scan me, and not do the same to my Caucasian counterparts.
But I guess that is the world we are living in these days. It does make me feel violated and even hated for being black.it does make me dread traveling because I know I will be harassed only because of the color of my skin.
At The Airports, It’s A Different Story Of Course
Apart from airports, I don’t feel harassed or discriminated against in other places. In Crete, I don’t feel that way at all.
The Greek people, in my opinion, are the most hospitable people, especially here in Crete, they are very generous, I have gone for walks and come home with all kinds of fruits and vegetables from people I don’t even know.
I would find a lady working in her garden I would say good morning, and then she would tell me to wait. She would go in the house to get a bag and proceed to cut some oranges and lemons from her garden and hand me the bag.
So generally the Greek people from this Island are super generous and friendly. I haven’t been to many of the other Greek Islands to see if things are the same over there.
Well Of Course Nothing Is Perfect Right?
One of the biggest problems that we have here in Crete, in my opinion, is the lack of animal control, and garbage recycling systems.
OK, I know for someone who comes from what is considered a third-world country, some might read this with a twisted lip, but Actually, Kenya is doing very well at the moment with garbage recycling. And actually, we in Kenya have managed to ban the use of plastic bags which has made a tremendous improvement to our environment.
The streets are cleaner, and the rivers have actually started flowing again. Although here in Crete it’s not as bad as it was in Kenya during the times of Plastic bag use, a lot needs to be done. And also the garbage separation system needs some work still.
When it comes to animals, like dogs and cats, a lot needs to be done because there are many stray dogs and cats in Crete. I have talked about this issue in a different post which you might want to look at. I just think measures need to be taken to ensure that dogs and cats are taken care of so as to reduce the number of stray animals roaming the island.
Living in Crete has its own challenges, but it’s a nice place, the only thing I would say, if you are planning to move to Crete, you need to decide which parts you want to move to. If you want to be in a place where you have easy access to buses, shops, and other services.
Then make sure you move to the cities, like Heraklion, Rethymno, and Chania.
Well, that is my story, not all of it but just a part of it lol, if you have questions please leave them below and I will be more than happy to address them.
Until my next post, stay safe.
Thank you for your time.
3 comments on “5 Years Living In Crete My Experience As A Black Woman”
Thank you for sharing your expat experience living in Crete. I’m an African American woman and am thinking about moving to Greece. I visited Athens in summer of 2019 and fell in love with Greece. I was treated well by Greeks as a tourist. No problem at all at the airport. Do you know any Black or African Americans who live in Crete? If so, what has been there experience living there?
Many thanks, Denise
Hi Denise, thank you so much for reading my article and leaving me a comment. Well, I really don’t know any African or Black Americans personally, but I do see many especially in the Chania area. In Akrotiri, there are many Americans including black Americans who work at the Army base in Souda. I must say I am very excited because there is a Kenyan girl who just got married to a Greek guy and she is moving to Crete, so I will soon have a Kenyan friend, I have spoken to her on the phone, and she is looking forward to meeting me, and so I am I to meet her. We were introduced by a mutual Kenyan friend who lives in Croatia.
Thank you Rose for this very informative post on living in Crete. I am on the path to moving there in 2023 from California and super excited. You’ve been very helpful, and I’m happy to hear you’ve not experienced discrimination, but also sad about the animal situation over there. I’m hoping to help in anyway I can.