A Small plane. A few people with kind eyes. I had a good feeling already on the flight in. We flew in the soft darkness of night. From the airplane the island was only visible by lights in the village, and a few lighthouses casting their eerie lights over the sea. It was as if I was landing in a Stephen King movie.
I woke up the next morning to the sound of cold wind in palm trees and the smell of saltwater. It’s a feeling of off season. But behind all the sounds, smells and feelings I found a big silence. A peacefulness. The peacefulness is hard to describe. I don’t think it’s dependent on my knowledge of me being on an island. I think it’s because I’m on an island. Maybe it’s because we’re surrounded by sea as far as the eye can see. Maybe it’s always having nature close by, which makes humans more humble. Maybe it’s the lack of internet and wifi, or simply the lack of stress.
People take it easy here. They have siestas in the middle of the day. They walk slowly and spend a lot of time at the local cafés talking to each other. They are accepting, kind and helpful. And they take good care of their boats. They simply enjoy life.
I enjoy them. I think this is a very special island.
I remember my anticipation.
I have only seen half of the island so far. Most of the time until now had been spent on lots of training, recovering and sorting out small necessities of life. But what I’ve seen so far is wild and beautiful. The nature is breathtaking, even when I have time to breathe. But I haven’t taken the camera with me enough times to show you just yet.
I know most people have heard of Lampedusa because of immigrants and refugees finding it as a life bouy on trips-gone-bad. I heard of one ship that started out with 99 immigrants. As it reached Lampedusa more than half had died, and not many made it until they were first rescued and then taken to authorities. And that’s just one of the stories, not to mention the shipwreck that cost over 360 lives last year. Here I’m reminded every day. Coast guard boats are making rounds in the sea, and border-control jeeps are always patrolling the roads. Every day we pass a graveyard for broken refugee ships. Somehow it made a big impression on me. The illegal ships are by law not allowed to leave the island, so they are taken up and destroyed until uselessness. So many hopes and hopes of lives rest in this place. I can see where hands have been holding railings, and eyes have been set on the horizon.