My apologies for another two day post, I hope you will forgive me. Yesterday, the 18th, it rained and snowed all day. I woke up and checked in with Pikpa, Moria, and the Port, which are the places I thought might need me, and everyone said, “don’t come, we have too many people already.” When the weather is bad the boats don’t make the crossing, so we don’t have many refugees on the island. At the same time, the wind died down enough that the ferries could leave for Athens, so the island emptied out, and the volunteers did not have much to do.
Anna and I stuck together, and went into Mytilene to find lunch and wifi. We were successful on both counts, and spent much of the day catching up on non-volunteering work. At some point a group of other volunteers contacted us to get together for dinner and drinks, and we met them at what immediately became my favourite cafe. The Musika Cafe has weird paintings on the walls, mismatched furniture, bright paint, and interesting artifacts up in an inaccessible balcony. It plays a mixture of fun music from all over the place, and like most places of its kind in Greece, it sells both coffee and alcohol.
We moved on to dinner down the street, where I ate a delicious salad – tomatoes in Greece are the actual best thing ever to grace my palate – and zucchini balls with tzatziki. Dinner progressed in the usual way until the waiter, who I assume is also the owner, came over to the table and started doing magic tricks. First he turned one little sponge into three, then he did tricks with napkins, and tricks with straws, and then he passed a bottle cap through glass! It was quite possibly the best dinner out I’ve ever had. Friends, good wine, good food, and a magic show. What could be better?
Four bars later we all made it back to Pikpa, where we collapsed in a variety of beds and slept for a few hours. Morning meeting at ten-thirty was huge, with everyone coming out of their two-day rain induced hibernation. I sorted clothes for the night shift for most of the day. The night shift watches for boats from about 04:00 until about 10:00 each day, rescues people if they need rescuing, provides First Aid in emergencies, and deals with a lot of hypothermia. One of the most important things they do is get people out of their wet clothes and into dry things so that they can begin warming up.
It’s important that we have everything organized, because when the night shift goes to the beach at four in the morning to meet boats filled with cold, scared, exhausted refugees, they need to be able to hand out the things that will be the most helpful. This means dry socks and pants, emergency blankets, warm coats, hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters, and sometimes entire outfits, including underwear. We sort by size, gender, and age, and everything gets a separate box. Up until now we’ve been using garbage bags and cardboard boxes, but today we reorganized into clear plastic crates that will keep the clothes dry even if it rains. It took most of the day, but it all looks beautiful now, and everything is labeled! I’m not going on the night shift tonight, but I will probably be on the team tomorrow, so I will report back on the quality of the sorting. I’m going to rate myself, it’ll be a fun experiment.
Tomorrow I’m moving back to Mytilene from Panagiouda, working at Pikpa, maybe getting registered, and probably doing a night shift. It should be a full day! Kalispera friends, from chilly Lesvos!