Mytilene, Lesvos, Days 10 & 11

Here we go again!  I didn’t post last night because I didn’t get in until almost 04:00.  Whenever one of our volunteers leaves we go out for dinner and drinks together, and last night was the final night for at least four people, so the party was large.  We ate dinner for about three hours, then moved to two separate bars because our party was too big to fit in one.  Eventually I started falling asleep at the table, so at around three in the morning I walked home and collapsed into bed.

Yesterday was a pretty normal day at Pikpa.  I got in a little late (it’s a bad habit I’m trying to break) and almost immediately got corralled by Dan to build shelves for the vast mountain of donated art supplies.  They’ve been sitting upstairs in the main building for a while now, just cluttering up the hallway, but there’s actually a perfect spot for them in the same hallway, someone just needed to build the shelves.  Those someones turned out to be me, two German girls my age called Jane and Basak (pronounced Ya-na and BA-shak), and another American called Carolina (pronounced Caro-LEE-na).

We busted out two excellent shelves over the course of many hours, and then another woman called Tina came along to organize the art supplies and put them on the shelves.  By that time it was pretty late, so I went back to Mytilene to change out of my grimy construction clothes before going out.

Today was another beautiful, cold, clear day, although not as windy as yesterday.  I spent the morning finishing up with the shelves, and then before and after lunch was taken up with helping Anna set up her room.  There are a few dorm-style rooms at Pikpa for long-term volunteers who are willing to devote pretty much all their time to the camp.  For Anna that means she’s on call all night to do beach duty or help in a medical emergency, and it also means she’s been sleeping on a cot for the past week or so.  Time for a real bed!


Anna demonstrates proper lounging position on her newly constructed bunk

Once the bed was fully constructed, room cleaned, and beds made, we snuck out for a pizza with Remy.  Today was his last day, and we were all very sad about it, so we ate sad pizza in the car (to hide it from the other volunteers) and tried to convince him to stay, or at least come back.  We may or may not have been successful, it’s difficult to tell with Remy.

My day at Pikpa ended with food packing for Moria, which is always fun, and then on my way to get a cup of tea I came across Clara playing a bizarre metal instrument that looked a lot like a spaceship, and produced lovely, melodic bell-tones when she played it like a drum.  Clara is a multitalented lady.  She’s a painter, plays approximately four hundred instruments, and can build five mini-greenhouses a day.  If you’d like to hear the music she made, you can see a video on Google Drive.  It’s meditative and very beautiful.

I came home to try and do some laundry instead of sticking around Pikpa to hang out or watch a movie.  One thing about Greece that I don’t like is that everyone smokes and it’s legal to smoke inside, so restaurants and bars are filled with cigarettes.  I don’t smoke and never have so I spend a lot of time with my scarf over my face, and my friends spend a lot of time feeling bad for me.  I’m more or less used to it so it doesn’t bother me too much in the moment, but stale cigarette smoke is the worst smell ever, and it clings to clothes like there’s no tomorrow.  I hate walking around smelling like an ashtray, so: laundry.  The issue is, of course, that nothing in Greece that involves plumbing is ever easy.  I spent almost an hour and a half fighting with the washer, trying to figure out how to make it wash.  I did succeed eventually, but then the cycle takes two hours and there’s no dryer, so I still have to drape everything over the radiators to dry overnight.  It’s a real production.  I’m currently crossing my fingers that it will turn out okay… The wash water drains into the bathtub, and it’s very blue?  I don’t think that’s normal.  I’m not washing anything that should be bleeding ink, as far as I know!  I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see.

6 thoughts on “Mytilene, Lesvos, Days 10 & 11

  1. We had the same problem with the washing machines in Italy (where there are also no dryers). The wash cycles take forever. When I asked my Italian friend Nanni, why did they take sooooo long, she said”Laura, if they took any less time, we would never believe the clothes were clean”. So, there you have it!


  2. Sonia — the washing machines take so much longer than the US ones because they heat their own water, all cycles. Not attached to a furnace or a water heater. And can you not hang your clothes out in the sun? the best dryer in the world. Another tidbit: it is actually against the law to smoke inside in Greece — long time now. It is put into practice in the larger urban areas, but in the local, small places, people have a hard time obeying such a law that is “new” when they have been doing it for so long. History explains alot…. You can also buy little paper pads (like lint dryer pads in the US) called Color Catchers to put into the wash. They will absorb any colors that want to run. Check and see if you are washing in cold (a normal US habit) or in hot (which will make things run if they have never been washed in hot before) —– those little pads are brilliant. The blue in the water may be from the soap — check to see what you are using…..I love these little differences. Lived with them for 50 years — you will get it soon!! its always good to find out “why” things happen the way they do. Watch out for shrinkage if you are washing, by mistake, in hot water……love Becky, the fount of trivia.


    • Dear fount of trivia,
      This particular washer is actually attached to a separate water heater, so I don’t know why the heck it took so long. That makes sense in general, but in this specific case I think it is just the deliberate malice of the washing machine. The blue turned out to be from a scarf that I forgot I hadn’t ever washed before! Phew. I generally wash in hot or at least warm, so I was worried. I’ve never had this kind of trouble in Greece before, I think it’s just a crappy washer. Ah well. So it goes.


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