Eko Diaries (fragments)

fot. A. Marioni

Day one

Indomeni is evacuated little by little, no trouble ‘till now.  Eko camp is in a Gas station with 2000 people, still quite calm even if the tension can grow. The big number of children accepted it quietly, probably. They look for a play, everything is transformed into a game. Nevertheless, they can turn violent against each other withouta reason. It is like this with every kid in the world, but it’s harder to calm those ones. The international language is the hands expression. To touch all the time, everything. They transform you in their Luna park. You are the toy that took them by thehands and make them turning in the air. When you feel you are the wrong person in an unbelievable place, in a moment that no one understands, you just let them play with your hands.

Then the food arrives, people get in lines, waiting to get the usual soup.

Adults ask if there are eggs in the soup today. Not today. Till now, Eko camp is not in the news. No riots, any TV Drama. You can actually see people smiling.

It’s possible to believe that Eko isin a good conditionand it’s actually better than some official, military camps. Conditions becomesa really abstract concept. After one night in the volunteers’ camp you can easily understand that the youths are still delivering free labour, the one that governments don’t do. You know that you are not the best person to handle it.But in this abstract condition, what does the word “person” mean? There is no mission in being there. You feel lost, not as the refugees, of course, but as a civilian.Somehow, you still believe in some values you’ve got from those governments taking bad decisions today. What did go wrong? Were all those lessons about the Second World War only a fiction? Aren’t we the countries, which have promised to work for peace? Haven’t we grown up with this idea of “No more”? What have I misunderstood during history classes? I probably didn’t get it at all. Maybe, I am naive. Answers are not here for sure.

I still have my couple of beers for the night and my only hope tomorrow is that my hands won’t start to shake.

fot. A. Marioni

fot. A. Marioni

Day 3

There is the line of the border and the food line. Today there is more people than usual, because there is something else than a soup. Portions are in my hands wearing gloves: we made a sort of a salad to eat in the bread; I still haven’t remembered the name of it. The first ten portions aren’t big enough: let’s give a little more. I feel tomatoes pieces falling between my fingers. Someone has a little more, someone a little less. I’m the line agent of portions and when the food is finished one hundred people are still waiting. Today they can’t cross the line of hunger. We were about twenty people, chopping vegetables during six hours, we couldn’t make more. Maybe if I had have spread my fingers a little bit wider, we could have managed more dishes. One colleague told me not to worry so much, because a lot of people stand in the line more often than just once.  Despite this information, it wasn’t easy to look at this all. News from inside say that some western activists are going to military camps and telling refugees that those new camps are in fact exterminations camps; that they will all be killed. You never know if the information is correct. It is necessary to go through emotions and strengthen your own experience.

Another news say that a couple of “socially engaged” artists want to make some action to create some kind of mind trouble inside the camps. An independent volunteer tells them: refugees are enough confused. The answer is that activists’ artists do not really care, they have their movie to produce and to show in several social clubs in Germany.

So, troubles might come here, because westerners are using the situation to fix their own problems, to fulfil their own expectations. Those people aren’t independent volunteers they are what we call: activists.

After Indomeni closed, the Union (EU) will use Greek policemen to evacuate the peaceful Eko camp. No one knows when. Information is more like rumours here. You always have to stick to a sort of emotional rationalism, staying in the line of peace. I feel this constant pressure of not knowing what is next, when the police will come, when all this will end.

Military camps aren’t extermination camps. I’ve seen a couple of them.

One problem is that you can’t go there as an independent volunteer. Somehow this is building a wall in the friendly relations between refugees and indie volunteers. Some young Europeans choose to live in these conditions. They have been many since the last six months. This is about making peace and live together, it is not related to solve European and personal problems, it is about to provide a minimum of decency, it is about balancing incoherent governments’ choices.

fot. A. Marioni

I had my first shower after three days and I feel great. I went to the barber to shave: let us be in the local economy. While I was giving my throat, I was a little afraid because maybe I had crossed a line I couldn’t see. But I had an intuition: there was no line there, I had just go across my fear and face it. I have a moustache now. I look clean. Actually, I don’t know if I have enough money. I didn’t want to give too much in order to not destroying the parallel economy here, which works perfectly well with just a few coins. I gave my throat and this is a point of trust in humanity. To have a proof of what’s going on daily in the camp. The score of the match is: hate is losing here.

I wasn’t supposed to stop here longer than a day. But somehow, I start to feel that I belong to this place. That’s not a matter of fight or feeling good at any cost. Nor is it a feeling to have a particular mission to fulfill. I do not think that living in a Gas station is great. I stay here because here I can see in every second the complexity of my time. It is about facing all this global chaos in real time. To think about a future that is struggling to emerge.

The last years I’ve always been considering that all that I had in front of me, in my future, would be only catastrophes. This situation is a laboratory of tools to use in the future.

A circus company from UK performed today in Eko camp. For the children, the only line that was difficult to not to cross was the one of the circus stage. Then a group of adults had to stretch a rope for the clown to walk on it. They managed it. It was a tiny line again up in the air. For one minute, it kept the peace real, and here the thing is simply to multiply these minutes.

fot. A. Marioni

When I feel like a lost child, there are always kids coming to play with me. They know better how to handle this situation. 

A lot of pictures have been taken all day long. Some of the UUN think that independent information is a front we should not lose. I asked myself why should we also make a magazines’ editors work. Newspapers’ editors actually declare to work to satisfy the audience’s desires and they show the situation only when there is a problem, for example violence. Is this what we really desire for the audience?

This position creates the common opinion that camps are about misery and riots. All the peaceful days aren’t information for sale.

Good is any news.

Till now I haven’t shown any pictures and I think I will continue this way. Do you need more pictures to get the situation? Actually, what do you need?

The strange thing is that here I’m still believing in the concept of democracy.

Sometimes I asked myself if this situation makes it as an evidence that back there in the western states, nobody believes anymore in their own legacies: constitutions, universal suffrage, laws. It’s difficult to accept that people from outside still believe in us, when we, actually, lost this way of thinking. The situation here won’t change until something will change there where the real front is: in the western countries. This isn’t about revolution, it is about one occupying his or her own country and improve their capability to work together for a common wealth, as it was meant.

We have not built our history by being apart; we rise and live on a permanent negotiation allowing everybody to live with one another within their differences. Now, we are fragments. Nothing will change that. Nationalists are trying to select fragments, choosing those who seem better, in a moment when what is important is to invent the conditions to create bridges in between fragments.

Some volunteers are starting to be afraid of coming back home; they know there is a psychological backdraft when you get out of Eko civilization. I’m part of this wave. I’m afraid to go back home.

I’m also asking myself about all this attention, with which all of the children and adults are now familiar with? This kind of star system that is happening here.

When all this will end, they won’t be photographed daily anymore, they’ll be our anonymous neighbours. Also, we can’t figure out yet the psychological consequences of this situation, because refugees are still on the road, their minds won’t be free until they will have a roof, an identification document, and living in an European neighborhood.

My eyes are changing; I can now look deep inside me.

There isn’t any press release that could teach me more. I’m limited in sharing only that point. I totally would like to, but… I haven’t found the way to make a bridge with pictures, sound or words to share this experience clearly with others. I’m already thinking about what kind of memories I’ll have of this experience. Today, everyone is sad and happy at the same time.

We spend more time as usual to speak to each other, to play, to occupy the present and fully be in the conditions that have created here. People somehow believe in this little democratic anarchy that is going on here. Nobody has the tool to save Eko civilization from the government’s decisions.

Who has it? Are westerns more hopeless than two thousand refugees living in a Gas station in the north of Greece?

I sacrificed my time, and maybe my last night in Eko, to write these words. For my own mind balance, I continue to still believe that in the place where I come from, something is still possible. It is not necessary that everybody comes to a refugees’ camp in order to believe again in the future. We can call it democracy, but is more about creating unionbetween people. This thought will help me to find the way back home. 

drawing: A. Marioni

drawing: A. Marioni

drawing: A. Marioni

drawing: A. Marioni

drawing: A. Marioni

Day …

I could estimate that every day Eko Fishermen take around 50 fishes, and this activity started two weeks ago. So, to stay low in approximation, we have around 1000 fish in this time lap, on approximately 200m of river. And there are still a lot of little fishes all around that eat everything you throw at them. So maybe next year, after Greexit, this local economy will be also discovered by the Greeks. Our spot is under a highway bridge, and we could hear all the trucks passing, bringing goods from the South to the North of The Union, and back. I placed my bait between a plastic bag and the two floating bottles.

I had time to think about Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” and that it was made almost forty years ago. Actually, I’m often thinking about Vietnam movies. The stories are totally different, but somehow the situation here is similar to the American representation of the conflicts in Vietnam. Those movies are often based on the psycho-war happening in the minds of the American youths, the chaos, a government whose decisions you can’t understand anymore, the feeling of being left alone, to being unprepared; innocent people are paying for all this.

fot. A. Marioni

Somehow here we are in a backstage of the current wars. We don’t have to face direct conflicts, and we are not in Europe, we are nowhere, and for sure we are developing some psychological conditions, all of us.

So, today we are probably already in the post-apocalypse, and I can assure you, it’s possible to survive. 

The river is probably poisoned by the intensive farming all around, so I can’t tell how long it will be healthy to eat those fishes. And how long will be the life expectancy in this new era.  To prepare a tea for the picnic Baba burned all our trash and the plastic bottles he found on the little beach. Then he just added three pieces of wood to get the fire for boiling the water. 

We stop to have a break for a lunch, because we had already 8 quite big fishes. Here, a “big” one is as long as 13 till 20cm; also, a group of children came and had a swim. 

Kids were very happy to enjoy this water moment during these days of scorching heat.  Fishermen weren’t very happy because of this activity, which probably scared away some big fishes. By the way, we all laugh a lot looking at children playing and being happy.

Happiness rise from the trash, in the middle of nowhere, and it’s a beautiful blast.

If our financial system collapses, we will probably learn from refugees how to survive to our own apocalypse. We’ll use all the trash we have produced these last thirty years to make a tea in the wild, we will have time to see our friends and feed ourselves with fishes, wild berries and all what till then would manage to stay alive. 

When I checked the news online I always read the same two or three reasons about why not to open the borders. Here, I’m collecting thousands of reasons why to open them. One on this list, maybe a little eccentric but real, is that people here are proving us that even the Apocalypse won’t be wasted. 

fot. A. Marioni


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