I love Molyvos. The crooked, uneven streets that twist and contort into a brainteaser for my feet and memory. So much life is packed into this medieval warren of narrow roads never meant for modern cars. Here the pace of life comes as fast as your feet and knees can ascend and descend the undulating chords of the cobblestones. The boxy stone houses huddle together, leap-frogging one another up the steep hill from sea to castle, like one giant fortress assembled from mismatched stone legos. Shutters and window boxes adorn the stone, snatches of life leak from tightly shuttered windows braced against the insipid winter cold. Whiskered old men congregate at tiny cafes that resemble a 1950s living room to smoke and gossip; locals of all ages cross themselves and whisper reverently as they walk pass the shiny white Greek Orthodox church.
Above all this looms the castle, a stought, stern crown on the hill, flying its blue and white striped flag, the only cheery note to the solemn sentinel of Molyvos. Once a critical link in the island’s defense from sea invaders, it’s now a quiet guard of the towns cemetery.
Cats overrun the entire place, a yowling, purring, sun-basking army of fur and rodent control. Across the harbor, bustling with fishermen, the coast guard, and bursts of refugee registration – the mountains of Turkey, murky through haze and fog just 6 km or so to our north and east.
And the sea,the ever present sea that bends to the mood swings of light – shimmering and happy today, dour and restive in the rain, or punishing and angry with winter storms. I have learned to read the sea for clues into how she will treat the day’s arrivals of refugees, whether it will be a day of fighting and clinging to life, of anguish and frozen feet, or a day like today – smiles and joking and light.
I take my coffee to the balcony in the frigid mornings, bundled against the cold and ask the sea – what will today bring?