It's easy to forget that despite it's simplicity and beauty, the warmth of it's people and their generosity, Lesvos is an armed camp. The soldiers are everywhere. You might not see them all the time but they probably see you. But they are just kids in their late teens and early twenties, quick to smile and wave, even on sentry duty. There is allways reminders of the war with Turkey in Mytilini town. Soldiers in and out of uniform are in the cafes, driving large campflaged trucks and jeeps or shopping in the agora. When we arrived in the city to return our beloved rental car, a military assault vessel was taking on large military trucks, right next to our ferry, the Theophilos. When we stop at the next island of Chios, officers from our ship are arguing with officers in army uniforms who want to roll two mobile howitzer field guns into the ships garage to be picked up by military trucks in Athens. "The guns absolutely must be delivered to Pireaus," the army officer is gesturing and shouting. "Trucks will be wa iting for them there." One soldier has a briefcase full of papers that he keeps showing to different ship officers and the Chios harbor patrol, who are unimpressed. The soldiers are persistant and finally are given permission. The guns are pulled into the ship by two large trucks, along with an army fuel vehicle that is not allowed to board until they have filled it with water and a ship's officer has climbed on top to test it. The trucks unhitch their guns and drive away, leaving the Theophilos armed and dangerous. If we happen to be attacked by a Turkish patrol boat on the way to Pireaus, they will be in for a surprise.

I watched the sunset over Mytilini as we left this evening. I wondered how long it will be until I return. I tell everyone "in the spring", but I don't know if that's true or wishful thinking. I take in the coast as we pass the southern part of the island and I can just make out the mouth of the Bay of Yeras. Anyone sailing by would never know that there is an entrance to a small sea, full of sardines, surrounded by pine forests, tiny villages and hot springs.

Lesvos is a magical island, rich in natural beauty and generous people, and it makes me sad that I will always be just a visitor.

As we get off the ship in Pireaus I am left with a final image of the border islands. It's the officer in charge of the howitzers from Chios wandering through the chaos of trucks and taxi's on the waterfront, searching in vain for the army vehicles that were supposed to be here to pick up his guns. He has been stood up. We find a cab and head for our hotel in the Plaka.