Wild waves of froth roll towards the
island, while the mountains in Turkey, hidden by the shadow of a sun that does
not shine, bare their teeth while laughing. The leaden grey water hides many
tragedies, but hasn’t lost its majestic look. Nor has Lesvos, that over the
past year has had the eyes of the world upon it.
Dramatic scenes and the sorrows of
so many people have created a veil of tears as deep as the mountain of
lifejackets is high; but the green mountains of Lesvos tower higher over this
all. History is like a rough sea, with waves that rise and fall. The island has
plenty of stories to tell, about people acting badly or as heroes.
Roads and paths cut through a
rampant wilderness, hiding many woes long forgotten by the islanders. As a
visitor you can ask each stone what it has seen during its century long life.
But nature is a master in covering up under its green carpet all that once was,
just as the sea keeps on pulsing her water until all the tears and fear have
been lost in the dancing of the waves.
The island of the beautiful weaver
of words, Sappho, is not in a hurry to reach into the future, nor does it weep
for its many deaths at sea. Formed long ago by fire-spitting landmasses, Lesvos
challenges its visitors and makes them seem small. It radiates a kind of
eternal life and is stubborn about its traditions, only moving slowly towards
Faraway wars have pushed refugees
towards Lesvos and now its north and east coasts are known worldwide, whilst
the other regions of the island stubbornly continue their daily life. Men rake
the olives out of their trees, jog along behind their sheep or sit in the
cafenions looking in the papers for news that happened only next door. Women
peel, cut and cook and in their simple kitchens conjure up amazingly divine
Between the many villages of the
island, the treetops bow respectfully to the Gods of the wind, at the same time
gossiping about all the mushrooms and wild strawberries that were forgotten to
be collected, or about the bold anemones and sweet scented narcissi that have
decided to see the light before Christmas: a sign that playful Spring wants to
have her entrance arm-in-arm with Father Winter.
Sweet waters from so many sources
search new ways to waterfalls, tender green meadows and jerrycans. Holy
churches have been named to watch over them, but are also there for other
purposes, like honouring miracle creating saints. Faith is as deep as the
Lesvorian bubbling core, where the sources begin.
In the South and West many isolated
beaches run along the sea, unknown to many tourists, who think that the best
holidays can only be taken in the North. Like a medieval Queen, Molyvos towers
high above the coasts that are battered by shipwrecked people. While small
Sigri, at whose tide lines only real sailors appear, radiates white and
innocent like a sweet princess. There, like a gold prospector, the wild wind
uncovers in the earth sleeping treasures that only have to be kissed by
geologists to show their by centuries' formed beauty.
Steep peeks of sleeping volcanoes
form the majestic entrance to Eressos and where Skala Eressou meets the sea,
lips of women touch each other. It was here that Sappho rose from the earth
like the goddess Venus from the sea and she still is worshipped in the many
bars where evenings, full of colourful cocktails, have hearts and tongues
There where bent pines kiss the foam
from the sea, stretches the sandpit of Vatera. So long that it is hard to
believe that tourists do overlook this great beach. Large sand plains dappled
with stones polished by the sea offer a surprising loneliness with the airy
Graffiti Museum as an added bonus.
High in the mountains a small source
gathers strength and curls down like an impatient river through tunnels of
trees, bushes and dilapidated watermills towards the sea, cutting in half a
princely little town. Plomari, growing against steep slopes, consists of rising
and descending stairs and streets. There faded glory lives next to the lively
terraces at the harbour, looking out over a south sea that only once in a while
embraces a refugee.
The lungs of the island – the Bays
of Yera and Kalloni – have kilometres' long coast lines, not polluted by rubber
boats or lifejackets. They manage saltpans full of pink flamingoes, chatting
pelicans and other swimming birds. There where the salt and sweet water merge (and
further) you can find amazing deserted aquamarine bays and by trees shadowed beaches.
In the north of this Pearl of the
Aegean, Molyvos and Sikaminia, fire-spitting dragons, watch over the safety of
stranded strangers. The largest part of the island however stretches endlessly
and undisturbed towards the south and east, where history still sleeps and
where the appearance of a refugee or a tourist still causes talk in smokey cafenions.
Lesvos is far more than an island sheltering refugees. Do not forget that
I wish everybody a peaceful, better,
helpful, compassionate, healthy and happy New Year.