We sat on foam surfboards under a tree on the beach, waiting for our surf instructor to start our afternoon lesson. My board was yellow; Joel, my British, pre-teen surfing companion, had a blue one. While we waited, I asked him about his surfing know-how. He and I both had limited experience (I downplayed my surfing trip to Hawaii and ignored my surfing lesson in Tofino), so I would feel more comfortable. I really am not that good. There was a chalkboard nearby with the name Nikolas written on it, along with a few surfing diagrams, so I figured that was our instructor and his handiwork. (It wasn't.)
As Greece's fifth-largest island, it's necessary to rent a car to see all of Chios. Of course, I didn't know this until I got there. I had spent all my research time (which was admittedly not much) on finding a surf spot in Greece, neglecting to really look into what to do on Chios. Other than spending time with the refugees there (and a visit with a friend who was spending her summer across the water in Izmir, Turkey), I had no other plans for my time on the island.
Upon arrival, I got bored quickly. The port city of Chios is quite small, and beyond cafe-hopping, there wasn't much to do. So I took notes from the in-flight magazine I stole from my flight from Belgrade. They had a feature on Chios, so I made a list of all the highlights and turned that into a road map for a day trip around the island.
In January, I returned back to Vancouver after an amazing family Christmas/New Year's trip to Oahu. I was craving a bit of winter to contrast the Hawaiian sun and surf, and had to go up in the mountains to find it. I feel #blessed to have this as my backyard.
A typical February in Vancouver.
In March, the world was hurting from recent terrorist attacks (it still is). I love the beauty and symbolism of cherry blossoms, which seemed to bloom at just the right time.
It wasn't that obvious, the collection of dark green and blue tarpaulins, almost hidden behind a stone wall along the southern ring road around the Chios castle, but it was the white ones with the UNHCR logo that gave it away. I had never seen a refugee camp before.
One of the reasons I chose to visit Chios in Greece, of all the country's 1200 habitable islands, was because of the refugees here. For the past year I have been following the news stories about refugees from the Middle East that have reached Greece's shores, and with its close proximity to Turkey, Chios has had a large flow of these migrants.