Thursday, May 8, 2008


Dear Friends,

This entry is pretty much a continuation of the previous entry which recounted the unfortunate events of Saturday afternoon, May 3, 2008. After the attempt to hook up my laptop had failed, and my surge protector destroyed, I really had no idea how I would get power to my laptop to write the posts for my blog, or get the entries posted on the internet. One thing that I did know was that without power, the battery in my laptop would last only a little more than two hours. The following morning, Sunday, May 4th, I was walking toward the bus stop from my apartment to head to Iraklion, when I passed the Marirena Hotel. There seated at a table in the dining area of the hotel was a gentleman, probably in his late thirties, using a laptop computer. I entered the hotel, came into the dining area, and approached his table. I apologized for the intrusion and explained to him that I had seen him through the front window of the hotel using his laptop computer. I further conveyed to him my unfortunate experience with my attempt to hook up my laptop the previous afternoon. He told me that, while he was certainly not an electrical engineer, the transformer that is attached between the computer and the electrical outlet has the ability to operate between 100 volts and 240 volts. And that he has never had a problem just plugging his computer, via the transformer into an adapter plug, directly into the wall outlet. He further stated that perhaps the surge protector and the current converter had somehow worked against each other, resulting in the destruction of the surge protector. But...once again, he reminded me, smiling, he was not an electrical engineer. I thanked him for the information and expressed that it was certainly something for me to consider. I then asked him if he was on the internet. He replied that the Marirena Hotel had wireless internet available to its guests, but that the proprietress might allow me to use it. At that moment an attractive Greek lady appeared and placed some plates of food on the gentleman’s table. I introduced myself, told her where I was staying, and then inquired about the possibility of using the wireless internet at the Marirena Hotel. She replied that I was most welcome to come to the Marirena Hotel, use their wireless internet access, and either sit in the dining area or use one of the tables around the pool area of the hotel. She was a most gracious lady, and very kind. I later found out the Marirena Hotel is a family owned business run by her father, George Stamataki, and that she was the manager. I would later learn that her name was Eirini Stamataki.

I left Amoudara that morning for my second trip into Iraklion in as many days. When I got off the bus in Elefterias Square in downtown Iraklion at a little after 8:30 AM, it was eerily still...very quiet. The streets were devoid of traffic, as were the sidewalks with people. At first, the only ones I encountered were those workers whose task it was to sweep the street gutters and edges of the sidewalks clean. Then it occurred to me - it was Sunday! No wonder the shops were closed, and no one was about. I enjoyed the peace and tranquility that Iraklion offered me that morning – it was such a drastic contrast to the previous day, Saturday, when everyone came to sit...sip coffee or espresso and to people watch. I think the Cretans love to watch people...I do, too! Even though I had taken my camera backpack with me, I never took out my camera, never took a single photograph. I seemed content just to walk the quiet streets of Iraklion at a leisurely pace, getting reacquainted with my old friend - the “new” Iraklion. A little later, people began to stir, some shops opened, and the traffic and subsequent noise began to increase, not unlike an incoming tide.

I caught the bus back to Amoudara and my apartment, changed into shorts that I usually wear when I work out at the gym, and went out shirtless for a quiet walk along the beach. I seem to have a problem; every time that I hear someone speaking English, I want to stop and ask them where they are from. As I trod along in the sand by the shore, I heard what sounded like English...not just any English, but American English. There were two ladies who were just preparing to lie out on beach cots. I approached them, apologized for the intrusion, and then asked if they were from the United States. The closer one to me responded that she was from New York and raised in the United States, but that she now lived here and ran a little taverna on the beach. She pointed to a small wooden structure...not much more than a shack, but it had personality. If it had been any nicer, it would have been out of place. A sign reading, “Frank’s”, was swinging in front of the shack. I turned to the lady and asked, “Who is Frank?” “My Father”, she replied. She went on to say that her father and mother were Greek and they had returned to Crete, and she along with them. We talked for just a few minutes longer, and I again apologized for the intrusion before heading back to my apartment.

Later that evening I decided to hook up my computer...first the plug adapter into the wall receptacle, then the current converter into the plug adapter, next the computer transformer into the current converter and the other end of the transformer into my laptop computer. I had the current converter set on “Low”. The light on the transformer came on, and then began to flicker and fade as if it were not getting enough power. I remembered what the gentleman at the Marirena Hotel had told me about the transformer being able to handle current between 100 volts and 240 volts and that he had never had a problem. I drew a deep breath, and while also remembering the fireworks display produced by my now deceased surge protector the previous afternoon, reached down to the current converter, moved the power setting from “Low” to “High” and then ducked and winced. When there was no explosion, no sparks flying, no smoke, no sizzling sound coming from my computer, I peeked over the edge of the dresser and cautiously moved closer. The light on the transformer glowed steadily and brightly – it was also humming – not a tune that I knew - but, never-the-less, humming. I then turned my laptop on and it came alive! I was back in business!

The following morning, Monday, May 5, 2008, I returned to the Marirena Hotel, set up my laptop computer in the dining area and posted the first entry on my blog since my arrival on Crete. I had a warm and dry place to stay, food in my stomach, clothes on my back, new friends, my computer was working, and now, I was online. As my son, Robin, would say, “Life is good!”

Take care, stay well, and keep in touch.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob (Electro-Man) Armistead

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