Lesvos: a paradise in crisis

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Can you imagine? Everyday at least six dinghies packed with refugees arrive at the shores of this paradise; sometimes twenty, but most of the time eighty people per boat; that equals at least sixhundred people a day.

No? Good for you. Since this paradise at the same time suffers from the heaviest economical crisis that’s been seen in Europe during the last decades. These two don’t go well together, and that’s why tourism is very much needed (en very well possible), as will be illustrated by these two stories:

Yesterday we met an old Greek lady in the bus. She was dressed in black and was wearing a necklace with a Greek-orthodox cross. A typical Greek grandma, who lived for about eightteen years in Germany and spoke that language fluently. Between her lost theet, she vocated a clear opinion on Greek politics: Tsipras was a good guy, but Greece should remain in the Euro. Furthermore she told us how scared people are. It is a fear we can hardly imagine. It’s about the feeling you might loose everything in an instance. And in the tourist-season people in Lesvos are relatively lucky, in Athens grandma’s and grandpa’s are living in the streets and eating from the bins. As clearly as this lady understood our questions on politics, so bad however she understood our questions on the refugee-subject – let alone she would vocate her opinion on it.

The second story is about a much younger lady from North-Western Europe. She migrated – like many – to Lesvos and works and lives for many years on the island. Like many foreigners she as well works in tourism. She told us the sector isn’t growing anymore. Many business owners are in debt and their forecasts are bad. The cause of the decline can hardly be analysed: at least it is not the beauty of the island, nor the care the owners are giving to their little companies (which is undoubtly clear to us). But whether it is the news on the Euro or the news about the refugees, that is a question that is dividing the island. She herself tries to emotionally keep some distance from the refugees. But while she tells us that, tears come to her eyes.

Just a day later I do understand her fully well: listening to the stories of the refugees will unavoidably touch your heart and soul. In that case it might be better to close your eyes like the Greek grandma or keep distance like this lady, especially when you have a business to run.

I won’t judge them on that, nor do I judge tourists coming to Lesvos to hire a sunbed and enjoy quietness and beauty. Moreover: I would recommend it! It proves your looking beyond the stories you see in the news, and that’s something this island deserves.


As I’m not a native speaker, but do value correct English, I’d appreciate any corrections on language. Please type them in the commentsbox below and I’ll make the appropriate changes.