Today was one of our most eventful days on the trip. We had an early morning wakeup call around 8:00 and enjoyed a nice breakfast in the café beneath our hotel. After our breakfast, we walked up roads on the island to the high school in Lipsi and met all 42 students. Although some of them did not have the best English skills, we introduced ourselves and showed them where we were from on a map. With the translating help of their school principal, Savas and Rylee were also able to tell them a little bit about CMA and CGA as well. Once the Lipsi students learned that the Academies had more students than they had inhabitants on their island, they were amazed and also intrigued. At first, they were rather shy and reluctant to talk to us, but they eventually started practicing their English in conversation while teaching us some Greek too!
Accompanied by the Archipelagos Institute, we then left the school and began our trek around the island. The weather was rather poor– 55 degrees, rainy, and incredibly windy– and very abnormal for the typical sunny months in Lipsi. Few stayed behind in the hotel, but the majority of us made our way over the island terrain with the Archipelagos Institute for an hour-long “walk” (which has since been renamed a “hike” upon the completion). The Institute has been working to build a marine sanctuary for marine mammals such as dolphins in captivity or injured sea turtles and monk seals. They bought a secluded, abandoned building to renovate, turning it into a veterinarian clinic for the animals, supply rooms, and an office space. They still need more donations and funding to complete the project, but their plans excited us all. In addition to the trash polluting the oceans, animals in captivity and in the wild are suffering as well. We learned that dolphins in places like Sea World and other entertainment parks are starved, distressed, lonely, and exploited for a profit. Some of these captive animals even hold their breath long enough and kill themselves. Although this is incredibly morbid, they shared some harsh realities with us while at the sanctuary but juxtaposed them with their passionate beliefs for positive change in the future. We were thrilled to be a part of their journey and all became far more aware of our own impact on the environment. The weather improved throughout the day, but the water was too cold and rough to go kayaking like we had originally planned. However, the hike ended up being incredibly fun, and we all continued to bond with one another.
After a rocky, tailbone-bruising, and tiring hike back to town, we traveled a total of 9.8 miles and walked up approximately 125 floors (1,250 ft)! For those of us who found the energy, we went to the school once more to socialize with the students. We learned more Greek and taught them English and trendy American dances while they opted to show us some traditional Greek circle dancing. We also played co-ed basketball, volleyball, and soccer games with them, took many selfies and pictures, and laughed quite a lot. This experience with the Lipsi students taught us that language barriers can be overcome and we are alike despite our radically different locations on the globe. They made a very big world seem small, and we were all greatly appreciative of the time we spent with them.
Once we made our way to a restaurant and ate a yummy dinner consisting of salad, pasta, and bread, we were left to venture around the town. (Side note: this trip has included an incredible amount of carbs. We seem to find foot-long baguettes everywhere, wheat rolls, white bread slices, bakeries, and pretty much any other kind you can think of.) Anyway, we split up throughout the town in groups, socialized with one another and the Lipsi students again; it’s certainly a small place! After regrouping for the night, we headed off to bed around 10:00, eager for our ferry boat ride back to Samos tomorrow morning.
*Unfortunately, our pictures have had trouble uploading due to wifi connectivity issues as you can understand. We will post these once we find a better signal. I have managed to attach a picture of the landscape, but if you’re interested, here is the link to the Archipelagos Institute that includes some group photos of us. Thanks for your patience!