Monthly Archives: October 2015

Walking in Dilek Millipark – October 2015

Millipark Oct 1501

This was our first walk with Zirve this year.  They have been on two outings but we were in Lesvos for the first one and Bodrum for the second.

Millipark Oct 1511This walk started in Guzelcamli, up, over part of a hill then down to the coastline. Along the shore to Aydinkoy (which is the second beach and one much favoured by wild boar).  The weather was absolutely perfect for walking.  I think the high was around 26 degrees, the sky was blue and the sun shone upon us.

We started with a minute’s silence for those affected by the bombs in Ankara last weekend.  We then walked a marked trail – it was mostly very easy going with a few steep bits.  There were a total of 170 of us.  Rather too many for our liking though, as ever, there was a great sense of camaradie, our Turkish was practiced and new friends were made.  There were about 25 of us on the bus from Selcuk, plus the Mugla, Izmir and Soke branches and a busload from Kusadasi.

Millipark Oct 1508All along the way we came across indications that refugees had also taken this path.  We found discarded clothing, bags, certificates, ID papers, exercises in English for Arabic speakers, water bottles, juice cartons, medicine packaging, food packaging, cigarette packs.  On the shoreline we found a pump, clearly used to inflate a boat.  Several life jackets were retrieved.  Yes, it makes a mess in a National Park, but people are people and people are more important.

Millipark Oct 1517

After lunch at Aydinkoy (with the boars) some swam and others didn’t.  We then walked up, mostly along paths and road, back to Guzelcamli where we had a chance to visit Zeus’ cave before getting the bus back home.

Lesvos – another face

Leaving aside the ongoing human tragedy and the biker stuff which will be the subject of a later post.

There was another ride out planned for the Sunday, but we had to be back in Mitilini for 4pm so would have needed to leave mid lunch.  So, we made our own fun.  We went bird watching around Skala Kaloni.  Early October is not the best time, the Bee Eaters are gone south for winter, many other species have migrated, and the wetlands are at their driest, so waterbirds are more scarce.

In a couple of hours and not really trying hard.  2 Black Storks, a Peregrine Falcon, a juvenile Bonelli’s Eagle, Little Egret, Night Heron.  Along with all the usual suspects, Grey Heron, finches, larks, sparrows, buzzards, gulls.  Sadly not many pictures, we only had the pocket camera with us.

blackstork

Oh, and for completeness on avian matters, from the day before, Theo, Hilary’s friend.  Theo is multilingual, speaks, Greek, English and Turkish.

Theo

 

 

 

8 Deadly Miles

We went with a group of friends to Skala Sikaminias, north Lesvos, 8 miles from Turkey, a ride out with fellow bikers, for a spot of lunch. This is what we saw.

In less than 3 hours more than 24 small inflatable boats, all overloaded, filled with men, women, children, infants. Many with poor quality lifejackets or inflatable vests. They had risked the 8 miles of open sea, across a shipping lane, in what on that day was good weather, with equipment not fit for purpose.

flotation

We saw one boat get into difficulty. The outboard failed. Fortunately close enough to shore to be seen and fortunately the wind assisted in helping them. A small boat went out from the village and helped, got people closer to shore.  A human chain formed.  All got safely to land.

We saw another boat get into difficulty on rocks, people dashed out to help.

We saw a boat being piloted into the small harbour by a fisherman in his boat.

pilot

We saw those on shore help their fellow human beings reach safety.

We saw the villagers of a small fishing port, dependent on the sea and tourism doing what they can. But frustrated. How do the occupants of a village with less than a few hundred people cope with this? How do they keep the cafes and tavernas open, how do they make a living? But, they helped, even if only to get people to the shore and on their way to Mitilini, not one said build a fence, not one said send them back. Their view was, we will help, we will do what we can, but we need help as well.

A reporter their asked us if as tourists we were distressed. We said no, not as tourists. Yes, distressed as human beings. The reporter saw something more interesting so we were saved more questions.

We saw men, women and children. Ashore, smiling, happy faces. No doubt relieved to have made the incredibly dangerous and expensive trip across 8 miles of open sea. Relieved to have reached the EU, to perceived safety, to a perceived chance to build a new life and not be dependent on charity. To have escaped whatever they are running from.

There was incongruity about it all. The tiny fishing village with more people arriving in three hours than the entire population of the village, and knowing this happens day after day, week after week, month after month. Our hugely expensive toys, Harleys mostly, gear left on saddles, draped over bars, people passing through with their entire worldly possessions in a small backpack, looking, pointing, smiling.

We give to charity, money, clothes and stuff. We asked a volunteer worker there what more we could do to help. He said this. He said, no matter what we do, people will come, people will try to reach Europe. He said to go back and tell your government to open the borders and let people pass.

Winter is coming, the storms will come, the sea will become far more dangerous. And yet, if we do nothing, people will still try to come, the body count will rapidly rise.  Opening the borders is not a perfect solution, it is not going to solve a crisis.  It will do one thing and one thing only, the most important thing, it will save lives.

So please, if you read this, if you value human lives, go to your government, tell your government to open the borders, to let people pass.