Saturday January 20 , 2018

Aegean seagulls in Kimolos island

From early morning the 16th of March appeared to be the first day of spring 2010. Weather forecast was good and this made our joy and anticipation to sail out to sea even greater. However all our RIBs are up to 6m long and we didn't know exactly how many of us would participate so we needed a bigger boat to travel in and be comfortable. Mr. Sakis Botonis, "Typhoon" manufacturer, responded to this need by offering us his own 8m boat.

Aegean Seagulls - Location Kimolos

Our plan was to offer medicine where it is needed. Aegean Airlines sponsored the medicine and after we investigated and discovered that Kimolos is a very isolated island in the winter with needs not just medicine but general attention from the state (from all of us), we decided to sail there, deliver the supplies and spend a little time with the few permanent residents.

We boarded the "Typhon". "Five "seagulls" with the latest member of the team, journalist Lia Lappa, who as a representative of the TV channel ALTER, was planning to talk with the island's residents, airing their voices and contributing to the broadcasting of their problems during the low season when there is no tourism.

09:00 on Tuesday, 16th of March we left the dock of Anavissos. Sailing between Sounio and Patroklos we came upon rough sea, with winds blowing around 5B and it took us almost 3 hours to reach Psathi harbor of Kimolos.

During the low season Kimolos is quite different to what the visitor sees in the summer. On the beach everything is closed and there are only two fishing boats and a dingy in the harbor. Two people were at the dock at the time of our arrival. They had heard someone would be coming to bring something yet they weren't quite sure of it.

 

location_kimolos02

 

They helped us unload the boxes and showed us to the local "kafeneio" at the end of the dock, where the others were expecting us, meaning the mayor, the teacher, the doctor, the director of the Old People's Home and a few other residents of the island. I am under the impression that they were a little suspicious of us in the beginning and to say the truth I noticed everyone was a little nervous. However quickly and with the help of the young journalist from Alter who was very open and sociable, the ice broke. We all gathered round a table and when the coffees came, the tongues loosened.

 

The teacher wasn't an old man with a walking stick and glasses like the ones we see in old movies but a young man 23 years old who consciously chose to come to this island and offer his services. "I have everything I need" he says "I came from Athens and I chose to be here. I enjoy being with the children and the islanders".

The mayor, Mr. Theodore Maganiotis  a man of hard work, gave us the picture of what Kimolos is like in the winter. Isolation is the main characteristic. "Now that the small ferry-boat, running scheduled trips to and from Apollonia of Milos, has been sent for repair, we only have the "taxi" and the large ships that pass by".

The doctor is also younger than 30 years old and as the others say, he is their hero. He doesn't follow working hours and usually he is not to be found in the medical center. He is always ready and willing to offer his services 24 hours a day. While the island merits two doctors and a nurse, he is on his own. And most importantly, he is content and doesn't complain a bit.

 

Aegean Seagulls - Location Kimolos

 

We next visited the Old Peoples’ Home, a beautiful building in a prominent position. Everything inside and outside the building is clean and tidy. The matron in charge welcomed us. “It is our local heritage” she says “the great benefactor Afentakis, a resident of Kimolos left his fortune for the care of the island’s elderly people and the survivors of shipwrecks”.

As soon as we entered, the smell of delicious food prepared for the elderly people hit us. We didn’t want to disturb them during lunch so we waited a while in the matron’s office. We were offered lemonade. All the elderly people living in the Home gathered in the big Dining Hall with the TV. Here too they looked at us with suspicion in the beginning but the happy disposition of Ms. .Lappa quickly made them give us their best smiles.

“We are well here, but if we had nets on the windows to keep out the mosquitos in the summer, we would be even better”.

This is the only thing the old people wanted and maybe 2-3 shutters that needed to be replaced. We also visited the beautiful school building and talked to the children. They had no hesitations at all; they came straight up and started to chat with us. As soon as they saw me reaching for my camera they all took positions as if they had been practicing.

Time passed very quickly. This visit to Kimolos in the winter was just for one day and we had a three hours return journey ahead of us. We walked down to the harbor admiring the gardens that were flowering. It was a wonderful walk, an epilogue to a journey that charged us emotionally. A journey of love that made us, feel enriched. On our return we had one more passenger with us, the mayor of Kimolos,who had postponed his scheduled visit to Athens to be on the island when we arrived and expressed the wish to travel back with us.

The sea was calmer on our return and so without any stops and with a steady speed of 25 knots we entered Anavissos harbor 2 hours and 40 minutes later.

“May God be with you all” wished the mayor as he was leaving and in his eyes we could see that he meant it from his heart.

 

 

                                                       

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