Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Hot August in Lakki

We stayed on the quay in Lakki for August, helping with the refugees in Pikpa. Most of the month was stiflingly hot. We did some shifts in Pikpa, mostly preparing and distributing meals, visited our friends in the villa and the house and swam with the kids. The refugees are getting increasingly frustrated, some going to Athens to try their luck there, though only some of those who paid 4-5,000 euros each to smugglers have got away, while others just wait for their papers in terrible conditions in Athens. There all sorts of stories and rumours, which we will not recount here because we do not want to slander anybody. First Reception has begun to appoint more staff, who are supposed to be taking responsibility for the Hot Spot and Pikpa, but so far everything is still down to the volunteers, Save the Children, Echo-100 and WAHA. One great success has been the hygiene packs that Keith and Louise have organized. Instead of having to come and ask for a bit of shampoo or a dollop of baby milk, every family now gets a pack to cover all of their needs for two weeks, depending on the size of the family and ages of children. 

Keith’s garden has also been a great success,  

the first crop of courgettes, parsley and cucumbers providing salad for the Pikpa residents. 

On Sunday 28 August we took Takis and Marietta, who run the delicatessen, up to Arkhangelos with their three boys. It was the boys’ first experience of a yacht. The sea was quite bumpy and Stamatis, the 11 year old, felt sick and was very moody, training to be a teenager. 

We went for lunch at the Taverna Stigma, where Evropi had been Marietta’s teacher in school and Tassos her classmate. They decided not to brave the bumpy journey back, so got a lift over to Partheni and then by road to Lakki. The boys immediately went to sleep and Takis and Marietta came to join us in the marina for coffee and cakes. 

On 31 August we had a Syrian meal at the Villa. They were desperately bored with the food provided in Pikpa so were really excited to be able to prepare something that they could enjoy. We took Manal and Mage shopping for all the ingredients. Manal proved to be a champion shopper – she knew where to get everything for a few cents left. Manal prepared a fabulous meal and we went up to eat it in the evening with Louise and Keith. 

The next day, Thursday, the Italian Navy Sail Training ship Palinuro came on to the Lakki ferry quay for a one-week goodwill visit – they had been going to Turkey but the plans were changed as a result of the political situation in Turkey. 

On Friday morning Annie arrived on the catamaran, following a very rough ride in strong wind and heavy seas from Kos. After she had recovered we went aboard the sail training ship on Saturday morning. 

On Saturday evening, September 3rd, we had been invited to the christening of Marietta’s brother Spiros’s baby son Georgos. The christening was in a small church in the yard of Spiros’s house, which had been built by his father in memory of his grandparents. The godparents were three of the baby's cousins.

The house is above Lakki, at Kamaraki, with wonderful views over the bay. 

After the christening we went to Marietta and Spiros’s grandfather’s house, which is in the country up in the hills. They told us that they now only use this country house for parties. Tables were laid for a sit down meal for about 120 people, mostly close relatives, and there was live music and dancing. 

Baby Giorgos danced with Takis,

Giorgos with his aunt, Marietta, and his grandmother. He went through the whole hour of christening, being undressed, bathed, dressed again and manhandled by dozens of people without ever complaining.
We were ready for bed by 11, though Giorgos was still going strong, and Takis very kindly drove us back to Lakki. The party went on till about 2.30, but we could never have lasted that long.

On Sunday morning, September 4th, we set off to motor up to Arki, but there was a big sea so it was very bumpy, so we stopped at Arkhangelos. We went to Stigma for lunch, but Annie found it difficult to get in and out of the dinghy with her arthritic knees, which swelled up in the afternoon, so we just got a takeaway from the taverna in the evening.

On Monday we motored up to Arki with very little wind and a flat sea. When we arrived there was not a single yacht on the quay, though it filled up as the day went on. We had two very quiet days, swimming and sitting on the beach, 

reading, and eating wonderful food at Nikolas’s taverna.
We motored back to Lakki on Wednesday morning with absolutely no wind and a glass-like sea and had a farewell dinner with Annie. On Thursday morning we took a taxi to Aghia Marina to put Annie on the ferry to Kos, 

then went to the archaeological museum, which had been closed every time we had tried to visit before.

On Thursday evening we had a reunion dinner for the volunteers who had been in Lakki last September. 25 of us had an excellent meal al El Greko. It was great to see so many old friends with whom we had shared such a life-changing experience.

Simon and Christiana came back on Thursday and we had a steak dinner with them on Friday. On Sunday morning we went over to the Villa to give Dina her birthday present before we set off to meet Frank and Lin in Palionisos. They left on Monday to get north before the strong winds came in, but Rosemary and Brian, who had been alongside us in Lakki, arrived on Tuesday. On Wednesday we sailed and motored to Kos marina to pick up Sam, who was arriving on Wednesday evening.