One last family trip to Greece erupts into a memorable time


Joel Evans

Evans’ view of the active volcano, Mount Etna.

A high school teacher, active volcano climbing, and getting invited to random people’s houses. Mr. Joel Evans never would have thought that these would be the key elements to paradise.

“Being able to travel is one of the ultimate luxuries. It is something that people are blessed to be able to do and I have gotten to do that. I have gotten incredibly lucky to be able to do that,” Evans exclaimed.

A long-awaited trip to Greece could not have been spent with a more deserving family. With a mother-in-law that has always wanted to travel back to Greece for one last adventure, there was nothing but love all around in what is truly the happiest place on Earth.

“She was like I just want to go on one last family trip and we were like we’ll take you. So she chose Crete and Sicily because she had been to Crete, she loved it, and she had always wanted to go to Sicily. Then we figured Malta was right there that we wanted to experience everything we wanted to, so we decided to visit Malta on the way out,” Evans expressed.

On a nine-hour flight to Athens, then flying from Athens to Crete, it was all worth the long plane ride. Evans stayed in Crete for eleven days then flew to Sicily for eleven days and stayed in two different locations there. Once Evans’ time in Sicily expired, he traveled to Malta.

“Malta was really interesting because it’s closer to Africa, so the food is different, the people are different, and it was settled in a different way. It was very much more international than Sicily or Crete,” Evans said.

Once Covid hit, Evans didn’t know if he would be able to travel to the places that he’s always wanted to experience. The last place Evans went to before the world shut down was Vietnam and it opened his eyes to so many things that he didn’t realize before. Having the stereotype of Vietnam as a dangerous place is the exact opposite of the trip that Evans had the opportunity of going on. Being able to branch off to different parts of the world helps to relate to different cultures of different people.

The Mediterranean and coastline in Crete (Joel Evans)

“It was amazing. I was really bit by having really interesting experiences that I could bring back to my classroom and help relate to kids that are in this building that are from other countries,” Evans declared.

Although Greece and America have some similarities, there are many adaptations that have to be made when visiting Greece. Renting boats, fishing, spearfishing, snorkeling, and even climbing an active volcano were all part of this tropical vacation. In Sicily, traffic lights were very rare to find. In Crete, slower cars drive on the shoulder of the road while faster vehicles pass through. Even the cars were smaller because the size of the roads was smaller.

Evans was truly affected by the genuine appreciation of the people in Greece. Going to restaurants touched something inside of Evans that he had never felt before. The care they spent preparing meals and the interaction between employees to customers truly showed their passion for their lifestyle. They didn’t work hard just to get the job done, but they loved their job for the outcome and joy they received from their customers.

“If you go out there and just be nice to people and be appreciative of their efforts, you can have some really cool experiences because those people are super proud of what they do, where they live, how they eat, and how they drink. There is a lot of love for their lifestyle and it permeates who they are and they want you to experience that too,” Evans preached.

Many people travel to places for the food. For Evans, Greek food is nothing like what he expected. The freshness and the number of herbs used in Greek food are what make it so unique. The sweetened flavor of the desserts was all made with honey. There were lots of fish, lamb, and pork that were put onto plates for customers to be satisfied with. The biggest thing out of all this was the care put into their meals.

“There are people in Sicily that say the food in Crete is unseasoned Italian food. Then there are people in other places that say that Greek food is just African or middle eastern food with a lot of yogurts. Neither of these things is true,” Evans asserted.

Greece is surrounded by genuine people. They are attentive to the smallest details and actually want to know about you as a person and your personal life. They ask questions such as “ What do you like to eat and drink?” or “What are your interests?” rather than “What do you do for a living?”.

“I’m really happy to have these experiences that look at the world and people and not look at the world and what the people possess,” Evans explained.

With Crete being very welcoming, Malta being more business-like, and Sicily being very family oriented, it gave Evans different aspects of different places. On multiple occasions, Evans would get invited to random people’s houses just to hang out. The acceptance and welcoming facility made this country so unique.

“They’re willing to interrupt their day and interrupt their workday to communicate with somebody who can’t communicate with them. It was cool to feel like you were worth somebody’s time while they were just trying to get through their day. It was an awesome feeling,” Evans reflected.

Living in paradise. Something we all want to do. It may seem impossible, but if you work for it you can live and be surrounded by any type of community you want.

“I am lucky. I was put into a place where I can take opportunities and make the best out of them and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t but I just kept going until I got to a spot where I could,” Evans shared.