Tomorrow I leave Molyvos on the island of Lesvos for Mytilene where I will spend one night before boarding the ferry for Piraeus on the mainland. From there I will travel by bus to Patras where I will catch another ferry to Bari, Italy. I am excited to see that part of Italy, but oh so sad to leave Lesvos. There is such a level of comfort in walking into my favorite coffee shop in the morning and having the smiling woman behind the counter ask, "Latte with double espresso?" And I love that as I walk the 2 miles to my shift I stop and talk to other volunteers on their way to work or call out a happy "Kalimera" to the locals. It has been such a wild 2 1/2 weeks here and I cannot say I have enjoyed every minute of it, but I have had so many moments of exhilaration and gratitude! And I've come to recognize that all the moments of despair or frustration were my own doing. Since the moment I stepped onto the plane in San Antonio just about a month ago, there have been constant reminders of my strengths and weaknesses. Traveling alone, I think the lessons come hard and quick as there is no one else to blame things on! The upside of that is I become aware of my part in it quickly also and I see how changing my behavior can change the situation.
The volunteer population here is a diverse group. Probably 90% of them in their 20's and 30's. Lots of folks from Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Spain. When your job for days on end is to sort through endless boxes of donated clothing, you rely on interesting colleagues for stimulating conversation and the volunteers have always delivered. I've met some intriguing Americans - Dan and Bethany are a couple a bit older than me from the Pacific Northwest. They are giving me a ride to Mytilene tomorrow and I'm looking forward to a few uninterrupted hours in a car with them. Laura Scott, originally from California I believe, has been traveling the world on her own for years. She has a great website about her travels -
- that made me laugh till I cried. When we first met I quizzed her on all sorts of things (how many pairs of pants do you have? how do you decide where to go next?) and told her how sometimes fear gets the best of me. She looked me straight in the eyes and almost challengingly said, "That's okay. Fear is not a bad thing!" And I could tell she was speaking from experience. She writes unflinchingly about her triumphs and failures both.
As you can imagine, politics are a hot topic of conversation. Both the politics of the refugee situation and American politics, which at this point is good for a laugh if nothing else. Along with the chuckles is a sense of incredulity. Bravo America for being so entertaining!
The next leg of this trip will be a slow meandering through Italy - starting in the southeast and making my way to the northwest - then through the south of France to Spain and Portugal, where I will spend about 3 months. This includes a side trip to Morocco and a week in the Azores, along with my walk on the Portuguese Camino - 385 miles from Lisbon to northwestern Spain.
A few pics here from the incredible village of Molyvos, Greece.
The castle on the hill overlooking Molyvos.
A view from inside the castle
Back streets of Molyvos. So very lovely!
Morning on the Aegean Sea
Clouds on the mountains. One of the views from my apartment nestled in an olive grove.
Cactus and bluebonnets right outside my door!