June 12, 2016
After several flights, hostels, a ferry, and 60 hours, I finally arrived at Samos, Greece. This was the first time that jet-lag really affected me. I arrived on Saturday the 11th at 0400 hours, and slept through until late morning. Last night I was not able to sleep until 4 am and did not rise until 1100 hours. I am hoping that by tonight my body-clock has adjusted to proper circadian rhythm.
Saturday I met up with the majority of the Samos volunteers at the warehouse. A few were familiar faces: Bogden, Saleh, Pru, and Jack. There are another 9-10 volunteers here that I had not worked with before, but we all easily meshed. The warehouse itself looks amazing in retrospect to the mountain of boxes I had encountered there this past January. We spent the afternoon sorting through boxes and constructing furniture for the camp out of old pallets.
Outside of emergency’s, the volunteers do not work exceedingly late here. Some has to do with restrictions by the local authorities as to our presence in the camps. One of the volunteers was celebrating his birthday yesterday so we went to the beach for an hour or two after we finished at the warehouse. The water was cool and clear. There was no sand on the beach, mostly rocks and pebbles worn smooth and flat by time. It was so pristine. I had looked forward to returning to the islands in the summer since I had only witnessed them in the middle of Greek-winter. This was also a great time for me/us to get to know each other and strengthen group camaraderie. By the time we all sat down for supper, some 6 or so hours after meeting everyone, the only thought that came to my head was that this was so right. The three months at home I could not find that feeling of belonging or feeling like I was in the right place. Day 1, surrounded with volunteers of relative like-mindness, on an island in the Aegean Sea, inspired with the purpose to help others and make changes, I could never ask for a better environment to immerse oneself in.
For supper we all ate at Pizza di Piazzi. Last time I was on Samos I spent every night there with the owner, and my favorite Greek, Manolis. He has a son who will be a year this August, his room is decorated with Disney and football jerseys (European football/soccer). I brought one of my Green Bay Packer Jerseys for him, my good-luck Jordy Nelson jersey from Super Bowl 45. He was so happy to both see me and for the jersey. I had missed his son’s, Antonio, baptism by just a few days, so we made plans to meet up at his house and watch the video. I always enjoy the time I can squeeze in to visit with his family, as well as an authentic home-cooked Greek meal from his wife Yoda.
There are some definite changes here since the beginning of January. I do not want to mis-inform as to everything here. The dynamics of different organizations, the detention camps, even the larger international picture is all different. Hopefully Monday I will be able to get a firm grasp as to the current situation on Samos so that I can inform you properly.