Back door - open border
When your back door happens to be an open border and the local and main governments are nonexistent what is the average citizen supposed to do? Police, pick up trash, help a refugee, help your neighbor and run like hell to make the last money of the tourist season.
Last week, after I spent a good portion of the day fielding questions from The Boston Globe, Dutch National Television - "The Walk" and then missing an opportunity to bring Channel 9 Australia's ABC TV around to see our open border; I promised myself never again will I give out information without a down payment. "I know better than this!"
Now, combine all of the above with starting lessons, volunteering, documenting the story of a lifetime and being a good citizen - LIFE gets a bit crazy....
Oh and that's not even the dramatic part. My life is super calm compared to my neighbors really on the frontlines of this unfolding drama as I have a mountain between me and the open door.
Up the ante a bit, and just throw in Mayor Galinos trying to open up an army barrack in Petra so that now we can house the unprecedented numbers of refugees (3,000 in a day); fingerprint them (immigration) and legalize them (so that they can spend money); and I was in an all out facebook social media war on ITVPetra with the the people who vehemently opposed the idea. (google it you'll find the transcript) Sprinkle in- another measure of pissed offness and now these very people are holding vigil outside of the unused army barrack holding court or making sure no one goes in! Some of whom sit on the FOREA (local tourist board) and complain that the refugees are causing tour operators to cancel. So, my question to them is "Why are you blocking this?"
And the back story of this story is the Molyvos camping site. Sprinkle sprinkle.... In June, there was an emergency meeting by the locals to talk about the refugee problem and potentially open up the Molyvos camping site, which is between Eftalou and the entrance of Molyvos. Some of the locals decided in that meeting to block a big NGO from using the precious space as a "transit station."
So, now, the growing number of refugees are bottlenecked outside the enterance of Molyvos after the school parking lot was fenced shut. BREATHE....
There was an emergency meeting last week in Molyvos to discuss this again which resulted in nothing happening about the true problem - 3,000 refugees arriving daily. What was discussed was that Turkey could fingerprint and legalize the refugees and then send them on the boat to Lesvos for 7 euros. The reasoning behind this idea was because Turkey wants into the European Union. Breathe...breathe...breathe....
Cut to the real drama.
I am so proud of so many open hearted human people who have shown their true colors in this situation. Here are Eleni and Eric Kempson on the frontlines saving lives, photo shot by Philippa, who let me use it! You can google them and Ch. 4, which did a beautiful piece on their story.
Eva Traumann, my friend and walking guide, who lives on the frontlines just informed me that now the OXY parking lot is being used as a pick up spot and that 26 refugees just drowned off the Turkish coast because a power boat had smashed into their raft. Breathe.... breathe..... breathe.... Cut to local humanitarian aid...
Here's one of the Starfish volunteers part of Melinda's generosity and open heart, he and other volunteers were organizing the donated goods when Michael Honegger and I made a pit stop here to pick up water and hats before our trip to Kalloni last week. You can google Melinda and The Captain's Table restaurant and you'll find some nice TV pieces on her too.
I put a call into 100, the number to call if you plan on transporting refugees in your car. In my crappy Greek, I said, "I want to take refugees in my car and this is my license plate."
"Diakopes" - vacation - was what I got for an answer. Vacation?
What vacation? The police are on vacation? After awhile you have to laugh..... breathe...breathe...breathe.... cut to...
Thanks to donations from open hearted people, this Syrian group got water, hats and the vital map. I was on my way to vote in Napi yesterday and I was happy to learn from an English volunteer that in Skala Sikiaminia, the locals were doing a great job. He was now in Mandamados helping the refugees, who were getting color coded fingernails to insure that they all got on the bus to Mytilini. The police were putting them on the bus as I drove by.
This morning, I was happy to hear that the Syriza government is now in power to clean up this messy messy country. I wasn't so happy when Tsipras swallowed that bitter austerity pill that put into motion 23% tax on some items. Breathe... breathe... breathe....
My friend, Joan tweeted write, write, write ... the world wants to know what's happening on your island. Here you go Joan this is what is happening... the short version!
Today is another day. Tomorrow, I am guiding some ladies to two beautiful places on Lesvos. This story will be continued stay tuned.