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Making it to Molivos and the Painful Truth

A kind Swedish man comes to the rescue, giving me a lift, and I am on my way to Molivos aka Molyvos aka Mithymna on the north shore of the island of Lesvos.  The way is winding and I fight nausea as we traverse coastal mountain roads slick with olive oil.  Omnipresent dogs and cats are a constant driving hazard as are crazy drivers.

Lesvos Island, Greece

Lesvos Island, Greece

It is on these roads, high above the Aegean Sea that I get my first clear glimpse of the watery divide between Turkey and Greece and once again, I am shocked.  Previously, I’d imagined that refugees were crossing a vast sea, but here I see the painful truth.  Turkey is so close that it’s possible to see structures on the coast with the naked eye.  To discover that those who have drowned were always in sight of land makes the horror even worse.

The sea crossing for thousands of refugees every month.

The sea crossing for thousands of refugees every month.

Thankfully, this week the Greek Coast Guard continues to rescue those who make it to Greek waters, although random boats are still arriving on the shores and there are lots of volunteers to meet them.  However, not all are so lucky.  My volunteer friend Jack, worked night patrol last night and posts a sunrise picture with this recounting:

“This is the view to Turkey from Lesvos at around 5:30am today. It is also a completely unjustifiable mass grave. Last night, while I was on beach rescue patrol, 11 innocent people lost their lives while all of the volunteers and Spanish voluntary coastguards helplessly watched on. The political stalemate between Turkey and Greece is to blame for this catastrophe. Their ineffective patrolling of this body of water and their refusal to let volunteer rescue services enter the water have led to the deaths of over 4000 people. Endemic corruption between both the Greek and Turkish coastguards with the smugglers fuels this fatal inefficiency. Being willing and ready to intervene but having to watch people die is devastating and the most frustrating thing I hope I will ever have to experience. I don’t hold the panacea to this problem, but I know that this is unspeakably cruel bureaucracy in action. Tonight I will rejoin the night shift beach patrol, I hope to have better news tomorrow, but I doubt it.”

He didn’t know then, but the truth is that at least 27 died last night, including 11 children.  The smugglers are getting rich but who else?  How is this allowed to continue?  It always comes down to money.

My friends, I know I risk alienating those who come here to read fun travel stories.  That is not what I want, however, if this is too much, please add yourself to my mailing list in the blue bar above and I will send you a message when I move on to Portugal with, hopefully, much happier tales.

I’m absolutely compelled to share my truthful observations of this situation and sadly, there is no way to make it prettier.  It’s my hope that by sharing what the media does not, compassion will at least partially replace fear, and truth will replace the media hype that thrives on creating division between people.

On a lighter note, my next post will focus on the amazing beauty and history of this charming village of Molivos, Greece.  I hope you’ll stay tuned.

I am raising funds for refugee aid.  Please click here to donate.  Also, every share or “like” of this post helps spread the word.  Thank you.

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