Day 2: yesterday we had our "first encounter" on our way from the airport to the city of Mytilini. There were some refugees camping on a roundabout underneath some trees. We soon started to understand who was a refugee, who was a tourist and who is a local. Refugees carry sleeping bags , tents as big backpacks. They are wary and a bit scared but you can see the slim relief in their faces for being here.
We had the day off today and went around the island for a walk. We headed to the port. There were many scouts collection rubbish bins and cleaning the beaches. There were tents all around the port. People using every bit of shade possible and any wire as a clothes line. We still can't figure out this place. There were big queues outside the ferry office. Many people trying to get on the next ferry to mainland.
Right next to the port there's a private beach fenced off and only accessible for tourists. It's a weird clash of realities. There was an ambulance helping a kid. It's Sunday and the clinics and hospitals are closed for some rest for the volunteers.
Further along the street there were rubber boats all over the beach.
As we walk we count many many life jackets on the side of the street.
We sit and observe this empty beach full of cues regarding what happen there. Many cars drive past and try as spot something but we can't figure out what. There was a guy driving alone that came last many times and I think he was waiting for us to leave. There were people with binoculars also driving past. Were they looking for new boats? We don't know.
We walk through the port on our way back. We don't know what to think. There's so many people. We finally stop near a cafe and rest. A woman (possible Romanian?) comes to us with a baby in her arms and asks for money. We say no and offer some water. Guilt and shame all over me. She turns around and asks for money to some refugees. They give it to her. More guilt. More shame. I have long decided not to give money to beggars. But why? My moral scales are so messed up. What's right? What's wrong?
We try and say hello to everyone on the street. Some smile. Some ignore us. There's a lot of refugees taking photos of themselves and their family. We hope one day these photos become part of a happy album that tells the story of how they escape war and were welcome in Europe. It's hard to tell if the worst part is over or not. What's next?
Tomorrow we head to the camps. We have no clue what to expect.