Dimitris has three diplomas and many jobs, AND his important concern and activity is to study, explore, preserve and educate others about the natural environment on Ikaria. He is a speleologist and knows over 40 caves on the island. He is also a member of a rescue team. ”I do many things, because I don't like to be bored.”
I think, for example, that my child can go alone to the town square from the age of six, because everybody is paying attention to what's going on and looking after my child, just as I am looking after the well-being of other people's children.
We do not have policemen here, we are doing the job ourselves, always checking if everything is OK, so the thieves don't steal anything, because if the owners catch you, they hit you, and the only way to survive is to run to police station, but we don't have one here.
I try to use photographs to show the beauty of the nature to the locals, that's why I practice photography. Here, even the people who work in the municipality don't know the island, they don't know its history. Once, I was doing an interview with an old man, and he told me something very useful about trees. If there are no male trees in the area, you must go to the river and find clear sand. Then, take the sand and wash the fruit tree very thoroughly from top to bottom and from bottom to top. This way, the fruit begins to grow and will not fall down as a small fruit. So it is important to preserve the knowledge of old people.
Local people do not dare to go into the caves. They know them from legends and stories, and Dimitri loves to dive deep into the magical mineral worlds.
The value we appreciate here, for example, is not to discriminate against the elderly and expel them to homes for the elderly. Why? Because they have the knowledge to pass on, and time for children as well.
Many people go to other countries to work, and they have lost the tradition of the island, they do not know its history, they do not know how to make the things you need in order to live here … So this is lost for the next generation. We need research for my generation to learn ... This is also my role in the Ikarian society, to bring more knowledge about the island, about nature, first of all, trees, caves, history, languages ... I am also a writer, and have published a book about ancient Ikarian languages.
Ikaria is OK if it has 15,000 goats, and now there are 41,000 of them here, since the peasants get big money from the EU to have goats.
We are policemen, volunteer firemen, volunteer rescuers, volunteer soldiers, since our politicians have signed a deal stating that there should not be official army on Ikaria, Samos, Chios. Therefore, everybody aged 22–65 is a volunteer. We keep weapons in our house, we have an airport and two harbors. They are a very easy target, Our neighbor the president is a little crazy. Not people, people are like us. The officers are brainwashed.
The island has its own microclimate: we have trees from Central Africa, trees from Central Europe, cork oak ... We have many, many different areas, so the people who live in one area don't usually move to another much. So when they see my photos, they often say: ”Oh, this is Ikaria?”
When I was working on my sailing license, an old guy said to me: If you see clouds near the top of Fournoi (neighboring islands), or if flies are biting you, do not go sailing - the weather will change and the south wind will blow ...
For me, my bottom line is friends, family, but only if they are good people, first of all ... Many people that are now in their 70s are a little strange, all of them! I love guys who give to and help other people without expecting money or thanks ... Many people do it, I do it and I like it. If we are all doing it, we can feel safe as a community. I do not like Athens.
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Released by MED Land project / photography, editing: BB / cover photo: self-portrait by Dimitris Lesses, transcription BB / proofreading: Tadej Turnšek, godfather of the story Barbara Čeferin