Saturday, 6 August 2016

With Becky and the boys - continued

We stayed in Arki on Sunday 31st July. Charlie had a wonderful time playing with Alexandros, the two of them getting on like a house on fire. In the morning they swam from the little beach in the harbour, at lunchtime they played on Charlie's DS and in the evening they played football with Kai and Bobby. After dinner

Charlie rode Alexandros's bike.

On Monday 1st August we had a brisk sail over to Patmos, which Lin and Simon avoid like the plague because it is hot, crowded with tourists (and fundamentalists wanting to see the hole in the rock where god supposedly dictated his revelation to John) and full of expensive shops selling designer clothes and tourist rubbish. On the way in a huge cruise ship was anchored in the bay, with a naval ship anchored just behind it. We agreed to spend a day there because we needed to do some shopping and our visitors like Patmos for its shops and a dirty swimming pool in a semi-derelict hotel. Lin preferred to swim on the town beach, though there was barely room to get through the bodies on the beach to reach the sand.

Becky changed Simon's dressing, which gave everyone their first chance to see her fantastic needlework. The wound looked as though it was healing well, with no sign of infection.
On Tuesday morning, August 2nd, we left Patmos to sail down to Arkhangelos.

Charlie took the helm.

The wind dropped as we got to Arkhangelos, so Andrew blew up the kayak and took Becky and the little boys ashore.

Kai rowed Lin and Simon over in the dinghy, to save Simon's arm,

and we all went for a big lunch in Stigma taverna, where we were greeted like long-lost adventurers - news of Simon's drama had already reached them (and a Greek couple who were having lunch). News travels fast in these little islands! Charlie was really pleased to see his christmas card on the notice board and Bobby enjoyed running around and back to say Boo to daddy.

In the afternoon Charlie was eventually persuaded to swim off the boat with Lin, though he still refuses to take off his arm bands.

We had a light dinner of gran's spaghetti, by Kai's special request, with disgusting grated cheese that we had bought in Lipsi. As we finished dinner Kai spotted Evropi coming out of the taverna to feed the army of cats (they suspect people of dumping unwanted kittens on the island). Kai jumped into the dinghy and rowed Charlie ashore to see the cats.
 With strong winds forecast for the evening we decided to set off on Wednesday morning, August 3rd, for Palionisos, going down the east side of Leros to see the castle and windmills.

Lin had phoned Pothitos to ask him to reserve the buoy nearest the beach so that we would not have too far to swim or row to get to shore. Lin and Simon went up to the taverna to see Pothitos over a beer (and to see if he had some cigarettes for Andrew, which he did in his bottom drawer). We asked if he was going shopping next morning, as we were short of cash as Simon had forgotten to go to the ATM in Patmos. He was going shopping, but leaving at 6 in the morning. However, he told us that we could pay him by credit card, so we opened an account with him (we prefer to pay cash so that our friends do not have to pay the credit card commission). We also asked him to get us some milk when he went shopping.
Charlie had a long swim before we went for lunch at the beach bar,

where Bobby loved feeding the ducks.
In the evening Andrew rowed us all ashore for dinner at Kalidonis. Bobby was thrilled to see a mother duck with its baby on the quay.

We had an excellent dinner, all beautifully cooked. 

On Thursday we chilled at Palionisos. Charlie swam to the beach with Lin and Andrew.

Becky took a canoe from the beach.

and rowed back from the  beach.

We had another excellent dinner at Kalidonis.

We had planned to go to Xerokampos on Friday, but we needed to get to a pharmacy so we went straight to Lakki. Poor Kai had a rotten cold the first week and no sooner than that was better, he got a nasty dose of impetigo. Fortunately Becky had taken two dressings impregnated with Fucidin from the health centre in Lipsi and they lasted a couple of days, but now we needed some cream.
On the way back we passed the rescue boat.
 When we got back to Lakki we went to lunch at Poppy's.

In the afternoon Becky, Andrew, Charlie and Bobby went for a hot walk around town, while Lin went for a swim.

On Saturday morning, 6th July, Lin and Andrew walked round to Merikhia with Bobby, while Simon, Becky and Charlie went round in the dinghy. We went round the War Museum, which this time did not freak Charlie out. Charlie and Bobby climbed over the military vehicles outside the museum,

then  we had a drink in the cafe,

where Bobby had a run around.

In the afternoon Becky, Andrew, Bobby and Charlie took a taxi over to Crithoni to swim in the pool at Crithoni Paradise. In the evening we went for dinner at Costas's grill. 

After dinner Andrew took Kai and Charlie to the playground, where the boys played football. Charlie went on the roundabout for 50 leptas. He asked Andrew if he could go again. Andrew gave him a 50 lepta coin and Charlie motioned to two young girls who had been looking enviously at him and used his coin to give them a ride. Everyone was so proud of Charlie!

On Sunday afternoon, August 7th, we went round to Merikhia, Simon taking Charlie and Lin in the dinghy and Becky, Andrew and Bobby walking.

 Bobby collected pebbles in his bucket

We had a car from Sunday evening. There was a jazz concert in the castle, but we were all too tired to go anywhere, so we just had pizza at La Nostra and had an early night (even Kai!).

On Monday morning we went to the beach at Xerokampos and had lunch there, before going to Crithoni Paradise in the afternoon. 
 Charlie studied the bottom.

Then Charlie at last went in without his arm bands. He fearlessly jumped in at the deep end and swam back to the edge and swam a little bit along the side.

He went right down to the bottom with Andrew

While Kai dived in and swam a length underwater

For their last evening we went for dinner at Ostria. 

And on Tuesday morning we took them to the airport to see them off

before we went to lunch at Blefouti.

In the afternoon we saw Keith and Louise, who filled us in on developments at Pikpa while we had been away. The refugees had been given mixed messages about what they could and couldn't do. First, they were told that those with their pre-registration cards could leave the island and were free to travel anywhere in Greece. Then they were told that all those with pre-registration had to leave. Then they were told that this was a mistake, they could leave if the wanted to. Five families (all mothers with children, some of whom we had been very close to) decided to go to Athens on the spur of the moment, in the hope that this would speed up their processing, in some cases to join husbands in France and Germany. The UNHCR paid for their tickets and they left on Thursday night, just before we came back to Lakki. The last that was heard was that two of the mothers with babies were living on the street in Athens. We were really upset that our friends had left the security and reasonable living conditions of Pikpa for a completely uncertain future.

Meanwhile, another charity has rented a house with three apartments, into which three of the Pikpa families have moved. We visited on Wednesday and the refugees were very happy with their new apartments, with spacious airy rooms, a bathroom for each family and a big veranda.