Finally, I have arrived in Lesvos. After getting up at 4:30 and taking the bus the airline provided for us to get to the airport, I made it onto my 7:00 flight into Mitillini airport on the island and we landed smoothly and easily. I don't remember much from this trip because I was half asleep the entire time (I fell asleep on the bus, in the terminal, and on the plane) but as we were coming down in the plane I was stunned how incredibly beautiful this area is. Lesvos is a fairly large island in the Eastern Aegean only a few miles off the coast of Turkey.
|Lesvos is in the top-right part of this picture, much closer to Turkey than it is to the Greek Mainland|
It was pretty clear by the time that I landed that the initial chaos of the stream of refugees has settled and there is a large amount of international cooperation (NATO warships, several NGOs, Greek Coast Guard) that is dealing with the landings and processing of the refugees. I was picked up at the airport by an ERCI volunteer who was a Spanish man that appeared to be in his 50s. The eldest member of the 8 people that are currently working with ERCI, he spent his life in the Spanish Navy and after retiring last year, decided to come help in Lesvos. He has been on the team for 3 months and plans to spend 3 more before returning to Spain, which is the longest stay of anyone in ERCI – except for the Greek boss, Nassos. (The average stay is about 3 weeks, my 1 week stay is very short but unfortunately my thesis will not write itself). We also picked up two German volunteers who arrived by ferry, picked up some groceries for the week and headed to the house for the volunteers.
Tonight I will be watch with a partner from 8PM - 2AM using binoculars and thermal binoculars to see if anyone is trying to make the crossing. Since the wind has picked up from this morning and is expected to be around 29kts and heavy rain, we don't expect anyone to be coming tonight. More updates to come!