For a long time our association´s member Lavinia already planned to travel to Andros – either together with Marie or alone, but with Marie’s support from Germany. At the end of April it was time, unfortunately without Marie, who left us on April 13th. But since we want to continue the animal welfare work on Andros, it was even more important that this trip took place anyway. Here is Lavinia’s report of her first visit on Andros:
The week after Easter we were on “vacation”. Why I put the word vacation in quotes has a reason. It was not a normal holiday.
We were on Andros.
I had the idea to travel there at the beginning of April, when a flight escort for Sandro was wanted. We had discussed in the family, that we wanted to go usfour on vacation and I thought, why not Andros. I talked to Marie, who had been wanting for a long time anyway that I travel together with her – unfortunately, it never worked out in time. She thought the idea was great and we started planning together. It was planned as a normal family vacation, so without neuterings, but first getting to know the island and the places, the people and bringing along Sandro, while Marie wanted to guide me from Germany.
Then she died.
From her dear family I got the important coordinates and telephone numbers sent to me and tried to puzzle out it somehow and continue planning – everything was already booked and Sandro had to leave from there. And then there was also a Bella, who had to let others go first.
But the holiday also got meaning in a very different way. I got to know the Greeks and talked to them about how things can go on without Marie now. I’ve tried to convey that we definitely want to continue, that there are people in Germany who are concerned about the Andros cats and that we have to gather ourselves first, but then definitely want to continue to help. Whatever that will look like. Difficult topic of conversation, especially with people that one do not know or cannot appraise at all, which can only be found via coordinates and sometimes speak only broken English. The whole thing is clouded by the ever-present mourning for Marie.
It was organized that Bella was caught by A. and brought to the vet together with Sandro – she was ready to travel anyway. There we picked up the two on the way to the ferry. In advance, I have arranged a laboratory FeLV test at the vet, which was thankfully negative.
The island is gorgeous. Very mountainous and everywhere are colorful flowers, beautiful sandy beaches and small coves in which white fishing villages lie, zero touristic. It’s really great to relax and unwind, at least if one are not there for a reason – because of the cats.
It was strange to be at the feeding sites for the first time. I already knew everything from Marie’s pictures and reports, but it was something completely different to be on the spot – on her island, with her cats, but without her. It felt like I was a stranger in another person’s story. I recognized some cats and had the names, but for the most of them I only knew that I already had seen them in pictures. Therefore I spent much of the four nights on the island browsing the nearly 160 pages in the forums, rereading all the reports one at a time, and linking them to my impressions and images collected on site. To putting together the different pieces of the puzzle to get a clearer view.
On every corner you can see what a great job she had done. Most of the cats look really good, great fur, little to no flu, well-fed and satisfied. No comparison to the first pictures she took two years ago.
Here are some impressions:
This cutie belongs to a restaurant; it was the first Andros cat we saw.
Feeding site #1:
Feeding site #2:
Feeding site #3:
Of course, there were other cases as well:
We tried to catch him yet to bring him to the vet, but unfortunately it did not work, because he is difficult to handle, the live trap was not there and the time was short. Two hours later we had to go to the vet, who is 45 minutes away to pick up the cats and then drive to the ferry.
At our accommodation at the harbor we also saw some Cats, which evidently have no home and also not belong to any feeding site. Including two heavily pregnant ones. They have nourished themselves amongst others from noodles under the dumpster, so we agreed with S. to look after them and feed them on his daily feeding tour. When we are back on site, we can start neutering there the mother cats and also the kittens, when they are old enough.
Our personal friend – Miena. So affectionate.
The Greeks are incredibly friendly and would be very happy if we manage to continue at least some of the work that Marie has done.
My personal conclusion:
It is not a bottomless pit. If you approach the whole thing in a well thougt-out way without wanting too much in the beginning, you can try to continue Marie’s work. However, one should not underestimate it, neither the physical work nor the emotional side. And I don’t just mean that about the cats. The sadness and absence of Marie lie like a grey shadow over everything one does and sees. This is emotionally exhausting, but I think, nevertheless, essential. It shall be continued 100% in her sense, therefore, the thought of her is omnipresent, but also impulsion. When we were there, I would have liked to do more, but blind actionism does not work in this matter. I’ve been there and now I have an clue of what Marie did carry out on Andros. I will discuss these impressions at the association´s meeting with the members and we will develop a common strategy.
And for those who have never done something like this: even the 24-hour return trip, without Plan B, including ferry and flight with cats, is already very nerve-wracking and sleepless. You have to know if you are made for it.
It was very interesting, very nice, very sad, deeply touching, but it is anything but a relaxing holiday.
And now Sandro and Bella are in Germany, as Marie wished.
It was about getting a first all-round view and getting to know the people, to be able to estimate what its possible in the future. We had three full days for this. Not much, to immerse yourself in a whole new world without the one person who could have guided us, but much has been made easier by her family’s marvelous help by phone.
Sandro and Bella are now in their new homes and I am very happy about that. Two so dear and relaxed cats.
Here is still another picture of Bella, shortly after she arrived in Germany in her new home.