@burcinc-- My family is Mediterranean. I spend some summers there myself, at my grandmother's home. She cures olives every year because they have many olive trees on their property. I do help her during curing season (she doesn't give me a choice actually).
It is difficult to crack olives but not as difficul as you think because we don't use knives. We use heavy, rounded stones. We have wood cutting boards. We just sit on the ground, put the olives on the board and hit them with the stone. They crack very nicely on the side this way, perfect for curing.
The purpose of cracking olives actually isn't just for the flavors to get in but to get rid of the bitterness of the olives. Olives are bitter and they have to be cured properly to remove the bitterness. That's why we also refresh the curing water every now and again, because the bitterness is coming out.