We came back to Lakki on Thursday, 16 June, hoping that Anna’s English lessons would be resuming on the Friday, but she had still heard nothing about a new contract from UNHCR. We got up on Friday morning to find that Lin’s (Kai’s) folding IKEA bike had been stolen from the quay by the boat. We had not locked it because we could not imagine anyone stealing such an unattractive bike.
We asked everyone to keep an eye open for the bike and rented a replacement for Lin for a few days. We thought at first that the bike might have been taken by someone coming in on the ferry from Athens, which arrived at 5.30 am, or by a visiting boatie from the other marina, Evros. Simon cycled over there are searched the marina but there was no sign of the bike.
There have been thefts in Pikpa and one case of a bike stolen by a refugee so many people, including some of the refugees, thought it had probably been borrowed by a refugee. Simon rode over to the hot spot and searched all around, in the bushes and the woods, but there was no sign of the bike.
We went over to Pikpa to see our friends in the afternoon, before coming back for a swim on the town beach. We had an excellent take away dinner from Marietta before going back to Pikpa to help distribute the post-Ramadan meal.
On Saturday morning, 18 June, we went up to Pikpa and bumped into the UNHCR people, who had good news – the new contract for English lessons has been approved so the lessons can start again, on Tuesday evening because Monday is a public holiday. The kids were really excited that school is back, but it is going to be difficult having lessons in the early evening, especially for the many kids who are doing Ramadan, who will have had nothing to eat or drink since 4 am and will be hot, tired and very hungry.
That evening we had a very good dinner in Ostria with Simon and Christiana, who are getting ready to leave for the hot months.
It has been getting hotter day by day. On Sunday we cycled over to Merikhia for a swim in the morning – Lin was afraid she would not be able to manage the hills on her heavy hired bike, which is much higher geared than the IKEA bike, but in fact she made it with ease. We cycled back for lunch and went for a swim on the town beach before preparing prawn saganaki for Keith, Louise, Al and Kitty, who we had invited to dinner aboard. It was too hot to eat below so we squashed into the cockpit.
We went to Pikpa in the morning of Monday June 20th. None of the children wanted to do writing with Lin – Reger and Rehat were more concerned to go into town to find wifi, because the Pikpa wi fi is now restricted to four hours a day, so Lin talked to some of the kids.
The great event of the day was the recovery of the IKEA bike. Several people had seen a notorious local ne’er do well riding the bike, which was a double surprise because he had recently been reported to have died in Athens. His story was that he had found the bike on a rubbish dump in Athens, ridden it to Piraeus and come back on the ferry. One of our friends knew where he lived, so phoned a neighbour who went round to the culprit and told him to return the bike at once, which he did.
In the afternoon we went for a swim on the town beach. Lin went ahead. When Simon arrived a few minutes later Lin was sitting on the beach surrounded by eleven boys and one girl (a newly arrived Yazidi girl, so not subject to the restrictions imposed on the Moslem girls). They were all keen to come swimming with us, but most of them are at best unconfident swimmers, so they played in the shallows while we swam out to the cooler water.
On Monday evening Claudio and Olga came over from Alinda, where they have just arrived for a two week holiday. After Mousaka at Poppy’s we went to the first of the free concerts organized as part of the Three Moons Festival. The concert was not as good as previous ones we have been to, but many of the refugees from Pikpa turned up and Spiros led them in energetic Greco-arabic dancing.
On Tuesday 21st June we took Lin’s bike in to have the brake mended while Simon was at the dentist having a broken tooth fixed. We then went up to a volunteers’ meeting at Pikpa,
where we heard more of the horrors from Matina. Refugees are now getting appointments for their asylum claims to be heard, in Athens or Rhodes, but the police will not let them leave the island, so they will not be able to make their claims. The Minister has apparently replaced all the judges on the appeal court that ruled that Turkey was not a safe place for refugees.
We had lunch at Poppy's.
On Tuesday evening school started again at 6 pm and the kids were, as usual, very enthusiastic.
On Wednesday morning Lin’s brother, John, arrived. After breakfast at Poppy’s John went back to the boat for a sleep, while we went up to Pikpa to say goodbye to the four young Yazidis, who were due to go off to their ‘family reunification’ interview (their parents are in Germany) in Rhodes on Friday. It was a very emotional farewell as we have got very close to the kids and are very fond of them.
We had to wake Zerevan to say goodbye
It should be an open and shut case and the hope was that they would not have to come back to Leros but would almost immediately get permission and go off to Germany. We heard later that they had not gone to Rhodes because First Reception had not managed to organize their transfer in time (it is simply a question of booking them onto a ferry) and the police had failed to give them permission to leave (although they do not need permission to move around in Greece because they arrived before the March cut-off date). They have a new interview date in about ten days’ time.
We also met Mohammed, showing off his new glasses.
We set off from Lakki about 11 in the morning on Wednesday and motored up to Arkhangelos (the wind was on the nose and quite strong so we did not fancy sailing), where we anchored
and went ashore for a beer in the tavern, with another visit for dinner after an afternoon chilling (or sweltering) and swimming.
On Thursday morning, 23rd June, we motored across to Agathonisi (wind still on the nose, but now light). We anchored with a line ashore in Spilia, a little bay just to the west of the main town, alongside Sue and Steve, who had already been there for a day or two. We then took the dinghy into the village to have a beer with Frank and Lin (who were alongside the ferry quay)
and Sue and Steve.
It was lovely to see Yanni and Voula again, though like everyone else they were suffering from the massive decline in tourism but, as they observed, at least it is quiet. We did not manage to see Maria, who has sold her shop but is still living in her house on the front. Yanni told us that she is still hoping to get to Kalymnos, but it depends on her husband getting a transfer in his job.
We woke up on Friday to the dreadful news of the referendum result. Steve, who hates the EU, could not believe it. We motor sailed over to Arki in a moderate north wind and went onto the quay. We stayed in Arki until Monday 27th June, trying to come to terms with the madness of Britain and the spinelessness of its politicians, reading, swimming and walking to beaches. As everywhere, Arki was much quieter than usual at this time of year.
We came back to Lakki on Monday June 27th. After shopping and washing Simon went over to To Petrino to book a table for dinner and to order some steaks. There was nobody there, but Simon met the owner on the street, just coming back. He said that he did not think he would open tonight – he was too scared to open because an inspector had come from Athens and he was supposed to pay 10,000 euros for each employee – he needed three people in the kitchen because it was not just a grill house. After siesta we went for a swim on the town beach and were greeted by the Yazidi kids, who were surprised and pleased to see us back.