Well a lot of water has flowed under the hull of Intention since my last update.
The horror and relief of the rat story gave way to a few months of the most glorious of sailing as the Med emptied out of seasonal cruisers and charter boats and the days grew shorter but stayed warm and finally the winds became more benevolent. I was actually feeling a bit stumped about whether to write at all as I didn’t want it to be a straight travelogue or a look at my amazing life type of blog. Our day to day was slow and peaceful and actually didn’t seem that amazing but now, with the changing world we are living in, I wish I had written posts that talked about the beauty of the islands, the friendliness of the people, the crushing sadness of the refugee crisis and the ongoing compassion of the tiny communities who pulled them from the water night after night.
I could have described walking up to cliff tops on nearly deserted islands to come upon an ancient fortress, the ground littered with the remains of everyday life in the times of the ancient Greeks.
I could have described the joys of pods of dolphins swimming along with us or whiling away hours when Rick played the guitar and I sat in the cockpit watching the sky turn every pastel shade from pink to indigo.
Then I could have gone on further to regale you with stories of islands where Cleopatra imported sand from Egypt so her lover, Marc Antony, would have a beach to sunbathe on and when we walked into a sacred temple in an ancient olive grove on that same island that the old gods seemed to be closer to reality than mere legend.
And I could have told you about our last night in Turkey when we sailed past uncontrolled and ubiquitous fish farms that made the water of whole bay brown and dangerous to navigate through. The detritus of plastic buoys, plastic poly-pipe, netting and timber littered the shorelines in great garbage heaps yet when we arrived at the tiny and pristine anchorage (apart from the cloudy green water which you wouldn’t want to swim in) we watched the full moon rise and were totally startled to hear a chorus of what was almost certainly wolves howling back and forth across the tree clad hillsides.
I could also have told stories about how we accidentally overstayed our Turkish Visa which led to us having a whole lot of problems getting home after being banned from entering Turkey for 3 months yet having a 24-hour stopover in Istanbul just 2 weeks later. Yet the Turkish officials were super kind and helped us as much as they could and left us feeling that no barriers were insurmountable with good will. And now I would look back on all of this marvelling at how amazing it all was. And how precious.
These days my thoughts are darker and more worried. Not for myself but for those we have left behind there. Those we have been fortunate enough meet on our travels and those we have held compassion for from afar. What will happen to the refugees sheltering at the police station or on the steps that lead up to the Port Police office in Symi harbour when this virus reaches its margins. What of the refugees in Lesbos, Khios and Samos? Overcrowded camps built for 2 or 3 thousand holding 3 times those numbers…well those were the numbers when we were close by in October last year. But now? After the borders were re-opened?
How can you practise good handwashing technique with no running water? How can you maintain social distance when you are huddled in temporary shelter never meant for long term habitation?
And what of the Greeks who we know and love on the islands? Shut down, no business, no income and trying to manage a refugee crisis way beyond the capacity of their tiny communities. Way beyond the capacity for kindness and compassion as tensions overflow in the increasing scarcity.
And the dear Turks we met. How are they managing the hordes of people trying to cross in inflatable toy boats to the EU to the promise of safety in the winter weather? Those customs and immigration police who helped us? The people who make a living in the summer time from the cruising boats. The guy in the small dinghy who delivers fresh bread in tiny anchorages.
Almost overnight our world has changed and our plans for this year are now just the stuff of dreams.
These are unsettling times and there is way more fear than we are used to. I was saying to someone the other day that there is always a whole world of uncertainty in life but as humans we are super quick to get solid ground beneath our feet. But what happens when it’s all shifting sands? How quickly can we process and adapt to change?
When I think about all of this I wonder what I can do to help. But perhaps at this stage all I can do is to bear witness. To show up and not be afraid to hear and to truly listen to their stories as they emerge when every part of me longs for the comfort of ignorance. My lack of comfort is only emotional.
I also know that when this dark time has passed we will return if we possibly are able to. We will bring our much-needed Euros and our Turkish Lira and we will spend our money and hear the stories and hopefully make a little difference. I hope it is sooner rather than later for their sake. For all of our sakes.