I’ve been in Greece for just about a month now. The stamp on my passport says January 11, but I didn’t get to Lesvos until the thirteenth due to jetlag and ferry times. In that month I have learned so much and met so many amazing people that it’s hard not to lose track of it all!
One month ago I stepped onto a ferry with Anna and Amy, two women I’d met online and booked a place to stay for a few nights with. Amy ended up going to Chios, where she helped refugees arriving there for several weeks before she had to go home to her job and normal life. Anna and I lived together for a few more days and continue to work together. Tomorrow, on the one-month anniversary of setting foot on Lesvos she will get on another ferry and go to the Macedonian border near Thessaloniki to help refugees in Polikastro and Idomeni. I’m thinking of doing the same, if it doesn’t pick up here.
Lesvos is losing volunteers fast. We’ve had almost two weeks of strange quiet and everyone is restless. Combined with the reports of desperate need from the Macedonian border and Athens, I’m not surprised that those with the means and the itchy foot are leaving. It feels like the calm before the storm here, but not everyone has the time to wait around for the storm to break. I’m staying at least until the end of February, because when I look back at how quickly the situation has changed in the past month it’s hard for me to believe it will stay this quiet. I have time. I can wait. The boats will return.
In the meantime I patrol the port to report on Coast Guard and Frontex activity. Today they did not bring any boats in during my shift. It’s windy and the sky is low and heavy, so I hope no boats attempt the crossing. It feels like a storm in the air. There is lightning just waiting to strike, thunder just beyond the edge of hearing. It’s warm, too, warmer than it’s been for several days.
There is news about NATO deploying a fleet to send refugees back to Turkey before they make it to European shores. There is a rumor about Saudi and US soldiers in Syria. There is talk of a new EU ruling about the Schengen Zone. This crisis is far from over, even if it feels like it right now. Things change so fast, and there are thousands of people waiting to cross in Turkey. They will find a way, as people always do.