So, many people are now coming to the end of their placements here, and most are counting down the days with mixed emotion. I now have only 2 weeks left here myself, and I too, have mixed feelings. I know I will miss all of the other volunteers incredibly, without the support and encouragement of others I wouldn’t still be here now. That’s what makes the experience so special. There are many things that I won’t miss, but I won’t dwell on the negative.
The weekends right now are very busy. Everyone is trying to fit in as much as possible before they leave. I have seen more of Samos in the past few weeks, than I have in my whole time here!
A few weeks ago we ventured up a rickety staircase to visit the cave of Pythagoras. I’m not usually afraid of heights, but the steep incline, together with the unreliable wooden stair structure was enough to give me vertigo. Amazing sights at the top though, so definitely worthwhile! It was apparently the teaching caves, where Pythagoras would educate his students. There’s an area where it looks like they have been excavating, so it’s possible to plunge yourself into the damp darkness of the past. Very interesting. There’s also a small church with a bell which is very quaint, and fun. BONG!!! Unfortunately there’s no information about the history of the place, so it seems to be all hear say and legend. It’s still a cool place though.
One of my favourite places at the moment, is the salt marsh. I touched on it last time, when I was lucky enough to spot one lonely flamingo. I went again, and now there are loads! I think 113 on the last count. They are wonderful creatures, with a sense of magic that surrounds them. And, I never knew how noisy they are, probably because I have never been so close to them before.
The salt marsh is an environmentally protected area that hosts a vast array of biodiversity and is very important in conservation terms. It is dry all summer, then the cold November rains start to fill it up. That’s when the flamingoes come. It is also located at one of the closest points to Turkey, where a military base tower watches confidently over the ocean. A Turkish base watches back. I still don’t know who technically owns the tiny island between the opposing countries. I don’t think I would go there to find out.
There was one time, as it was getting dark, We watched as hundreds of gulls flocked over a clump of rocks near the coast. They swarmed up, and over and round and round, and eventually began the short flight over to Turkish shores. They could do it so freely. Moving from one country to the next, without a notion or care of potential conflict. At the time it just seemed slightly bizarre but looking back, it symbolised a stunning realisation that despite all of our intelligence, technology and intentions, we humans are anything but free!
It’s December here in Greece, and you can’t escape it. Samos, and most of the country I suppose, is a summer place and definitely not built for winter. It is easy to see this from walking around.
We pass hotels, beach resorts, shops and even roads show little sign of inhabitation.
This makes a violent contrast to how it was on my arrival back in June. Yet, it is somewhat more alluring. I feel a lot more relaxed and welcome here and feel like I can do whatever I want to. Of course, in reality this is not true, but it’s nice to imagine.
It’s wonderful to walk around here, apart from the angry dogs, but that’s another story. It’s so quiet. On the contrary, the towns are rather depressing. Ghost towns. Ones that make you think you’re in a zombie film. All the street cafes on the port have now been replaced with cars, no people walk on the streets, the prices seem cheaper though – that’s only if they have what you want.
We’ve seen sunshine, rain, thunder and lightening over the past few weeks. It’s very cold at night, and the heating isn’t effective. The showers run freezing, and washed clothes never dry thoroughly. Still, at least we’ve had some emergency training in flood management strategy, and the cats are happy.
So, just 2 weeks left on Samos Island. I’ve had fun, I’ve worked hard and now I am ready to leave this post-apocalyptic world.
by Katie with 3 comments