The day started off very quiet today with possibly only a boat or two arriving to Chios since the previous day. In the morning, I brought Camilla around on a tour of all the places that she would become familiar with and found that all of them were empty of refugees (Tabakika, the port, Dipethe (the other overflow area)). It was the first time that Tabakika had been empty since I arrived. Kind of eerie to tell the truth.
Since it was so quiet, and the containers were all in order, it was deemed a rest day, so we all made plans for different things to fill our days with from renting cars to taking ferries to other islands to catching up with life. Before any of that could get going, however, some help was needed in one of the volunteer kitchens to serve food to the 100-150 people that were in Souda (then another 60 at Tabakika that arrived later in the day south of the town of Chios). A group of 4 of us decided to help one of the kitchen coordinators to cook a meal for the evening time.
Before we started cooking, we had enough time for the five of us to jump into a car and drive 10 km up the north up the coast to Pantoukios, a small village on the water (view below) for a small meal at easily the best restaurant I’ve eaten at yet. A return is imminent.
Like I have written before, the entire food initiative comes from volunteers, so there are two volunteer kitchens that try to provide 1-2 meals a day and they have been fairly successful thus far. It’s at times hard to ensure everyone gets a meal, because of all the movement between the camps and the kitchens are not allowed to give out food inside them.
The process of cooking was not that difficult for the numbers we were looking at. The kitchen coordinator had bought all that was necessary in one supermarket run, a stock had been prepared already and all it involved was chopping up vegetables, bread and waiting for beans, squash and potatoes to cook in the stock. Four of us then took the food with cups and spoons to the outside of Souda, asked people to line up in a straight line (which worked quite well this time) and we served everyone one at a time. It all went quite smoothly. We then brought what was left to Tabakika to serve outside those who had not yet entered the Snake (sounds so ominous). Day complete.
One other topic I wanted to briefly touch on in this post was some of the boats that are involved since we saw a few in the port today. This first set of boats below is the most common crossing vessel for refugees from Turkey to Chios (I can’t speak for those that cross to Lesvos, but I’m sure these are there as well). They often fit 50 people in these, which you can see why this makes the crossing so dangerous. In looking at them closely, it seems that they are built for just one crossing. They are new, but shoddily made. And, you can see below the next photo, what often happens to these weak zodiac-like boats. I wouldn’t be surprised if whole boats have disappeared, and everyone in them, without people knowing.
And then there is another set of boats that not many people have written about, but that are also doing a booming business, because of the crisis. These are the ferries that bring the refugees from Chios and Lesvos to Athens, the next stop on their migrant trail. Most refugees travel to Athens via these ferries, because they are cheaper than flying. I believe the cheapest ticket costs around 40 to 50 Euro (~$44-$55) for the 9-12 hour journey, usually overnight. As you can see, they are just massive. Cars, containers and people all fit in there. In the foreground of the photo is a tiny 3 m individual Greek fishing boat.
The weather is supposed to be good tonight and tomorrow, so we can probably expect arrivals in the next 24 hours. After that, the weather is supposed to turn quite harshly, with very strong winds, so we’ll see what happens.