Greece – The Aqueduct Adventure

Originally posted – March 20, 2017

This was a great day. Most of my posts so far have been about the camp and the people that have been a part of my journey and how they affected me. Along the way, in amongst all the hard work and relationships being built I have also had a few fantastic opportunities to be a part of some incredible experiences. As most of you are aware I am an avowed lover of random adventure, I tend to not know what I am doing until I am doing it haha. This day would prove to be no exception…

Our adventure begins the day before as I picked up the rest of the Panagiouda Crew from working the night shift an experience I not so unfortunately missed out on during my time in Moria. (not sure who to thank, Marianna for her scheduling I guess, but anyways I am definitely grateful haha — David is too old for all nighters) During our drive home it was discussed that we all had the following day off and as such an adventure was in order.

The next day I followed up with them to see what was up and within 30 minutes we had a hike planned. Steph and Dusting had driven by random sign along the highway on their previous days adventures that looked like it was a map of hiking trails so they pinned it and we had just been recruited to see where it lead. LOVE IT.

Loaded in the van shortly after we were on our way. Armed only with google maps and an appetite for adventure we toured our way down the winding Lesvos highway towards the pin. As we got closer we noticed a sign that read something about an aqueduct… INTRIGUING but we carried on towards where they had set the pin and finally found the sign they had previously passed.

The sign itself outlined several trails which undoubtedly were beautiful adventures of their own. This entire island is full of the most beautiful landscapes, hilly and filled with lush olive groves, it is truly a sight to be seen. But our eyes all gravitated to one path in particular… the Roman Aqueduct.

Now if I am honest, I had ZERO idea what a Roman Aqueduct looked like or would be but I had a suspicion that it was old, stone, big and most likely VERY COOL, making it easy to sell me on the idea. We circled back to where we had seen the original sign and began our trek into the unknown.

Like everything else in this country, hike towards the Aqueduct was stunning, winding around a small river valley the journey itself was amazing to behold. The quiet of nature, the crispness in the the air and, of course, fantastic company holding great conversation. Though not without any trials, it was super muddy and Sam ended up doing the hike barefoot (2 hours through mud sans shoes thats more than I could have done) but I am sure glad he did because I would have hated for him to miss what we came upon.

As we  travelled further down the path we would get our first glimpses of this marvellous site. Standing for legitimately hundreds of years this astonishing feat of ancient architecture was completely awe inspiring.

As we got closer I felt a little like we were characters in the Lord of the Rings or something, heroes in the midst of an ancient epic quest.

I also learned, for the record, the Romans used aqueducts to move water from the island’s hills into the city’s below. Often they would have to cross a valley to do so and in that these epic aqueducts were built to span the gorge.

I don’t actually know what else to say about this experience. It was humbling and strangely satisfying to be that close to such an enduring piece of history. I was visiting with friends last night discussing our various travels and they were talking about visiting the Coliseum in Rome and the feelings they felt walking in such historically rich setting and I feel like thats a good explanation of how I felt here. I think as humans we have a deeply entrenched desire for legacy that we can too often overlook in our concerns for the here and now and so when we experience this level of physical endurement we cannot help but be somewhat awed by it.

Lol anyways consider that David’s deep thought for the day.

I am also still trying to get some of the footage that Dustin took with his drone. I have a feeling that it would give an even deeper understanding of how incredible this structure is, that photos cant even accurately capture. I’ll post it up, if and when I do.

Until Next time

D

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Greece – Life at Moria

Hey, thanks so much for checking out my blog! 2017 has already been amazing for me, I spent a month in Greece and another month traveling my way back to Canada. I blogged my way through it but they were on my other site, in an effort to keep everything in one spot, I have moved all my posts here! Hope you enjoy!

4 shifts left!!!! **tear**

I am finally taking a second to write and I cannot believe that I only have 4 shifts left! ūüė© That seems so unbelievably crazy to me. It has been a full few weeks and has gotten to the point where in many ways I feel like this place is a part of me. The work is exhausting both physically and emotionally but the people and the community that comes with it are equally beautiful and fulfilling.

2017-02-15 14.36.08¬†In most of my travels it’s the dichotomy of the situations I get myself into that often impacts me the most and Greece has been no exception. Here we have this beautiful country with thrilling landscapes around every corner and in the middle of it all is the Moria Refugee Camp, a military base and very prisonesque, which currently¬†houses 2,000 or so men from around the world as they anxiously await their decision on asylum. A place many understood¬†would be a few day stop on their journey¬†to a promised land but has become their home for months, gradually and continually deteriorating the hope they once held.

I haven’t posted a lot unfortunately mostly because I come home exhausted and get up with just enough time to hit the pavement for another day. But partially because being here has required a lot of processing and I want to be careful not to unintentionally paint a darker picture of the experience than it deserves. Like most things in life it is often easier to lose sight of the great things that2017-02-06 17.03.48 are occurring as they fade behind the issues we face.
My role at EuroRelief is different everyday it seems which is a bit of an adventure in itself but lets me see if I can list a few of the more dominant roles I have played.
  1. Security – My first days and a couple times this last week I spent watching gates, this is just a security tool for the residents making sure that people who aren’t housed on the level aren’t getting on, it also means distributing food to the different rooms, but mostly it is just hanging out with the guys, speaking broken English/Farsi/Arabic/French etc and laughing at their antics. I also find this a great opportunity to set spiritual atmosphere and in my heart I pray hope over each of them as they come in and out of the gate. It is also often super quiet so I get a lot of reflection here too. It can also be a bit crazy as people are being¬†moved around the camp constantly in an effort to manage the housing at the camp.
  2. Driver – For a time I was the only volunteer with an international license so that kind of solidified my role as a driver for the volunteers. It adds time to my day which if you’ve been here would likely have heard me complain about, and if you’re doddling at the end of your shift have likely experienced #GrumpyDave but all in all the role really added to my experience. I get to spend time with most of Euro’s volunteers and as a result have been blessed to experience first hand¬†the awesome hearts and spirits of these people who are truly an exceptional bunch.
  3. Warehouse personnel – I tried to make myself sound¬†fancy but really I just move boxes, and boxes, and boxes, oh and then some pallets ūüėõ Managing clothing is one of EuroReliefs roles on the camp and in the ever continuing efforts to improve processes they have been doing a lot of work wit2017-02-16 11.13.55h organizing the donations they receive. And then in the middle of it all they received 24 pallets of winter gear and have to sort what is worth keeping for next year (as it is spring here now) and what to get rid of. Let me tell ya that was a fun few days haha but with a view like below its tough to complain too much.
  4. Info Staff – Sounds simple… hahaha not so much, this is where daily random adventures begin. Yes it can be slow at times but more often than not the words “I need someone for a job” ring out from the shift leader and you get drafted in for an adventure. Usually, it involves moving people from one housing unit to another or checking some simple information or tracking down a resident, but other times the adventure is much greater. ¬†One of my favourites was the distribution of 120 bunkbeds into the big tents. Prior to this the guys were sleeping on the floor so you would expect that actual beds would be greeted with joy. Not so much though as many of these guys had built quite comfortable quarters for themselves and were not excited to destroy2017-02-15 14.38.58 their current accommodation to make room for the new. Add in some trust issues that the beds were actually coming and the short notice and boom EXCITEMENT haha. Once they saw the beds and we started bringing them in MORE EXCITEMENT as we can only bring in 10 at a time and theres always a bit of concern that not everyone will get one. And then once word has gotten out that the area has beds others who aren’t supposed to be in the tent have come in to try and lay claim to them creating a shortage. MORE EXCITEMENT. But like most things in Moria the excitement is short lived and the next day everything had returned to calm. These men live in a state of limbo so I understand completely why they get upset when things get shaken a bit as they are simply trying to hold on to any resemblance of a normal life.
So thats a brief look at my day to day. I’ll try and post again in the next few days as my processing of this experience continues. I head to Turkey on Wednesday which will allow me some recuperation time as well as an opportunity to dialogue with friends outside the situation which will undoubtedly provide new levels of revelation.
I also NEED to do a post specifically devoted to my Panagiouda Crew! My trip would not have been complete with out these guys they are truly kindred spirits to my adventurous heart and I have been so ABSOLUTELY blessed to have them in my life.
As this chapter closes I definitely do not want to leave though. I have gotten to see a change in Moria over the past few weeks and am proud for my tiny part in it. There is so much brokenness but as things are improving my hope is the men will see the hope ahead as well.
Please continue to pray for Moria, for the hearts of the men inside who fight hopelessness, for our world leaders to see refugees as an opportunity not a penance, for the workers in the field that energy would hold for the ones who are here and more would answer the call to this incredible experience.
Chat Soon
D

Greece – Touring Panagiouda

Hey, thanks so much for checking out my blog! 2017 has already been amazing for me, I spent a month in Greece and another month traveling my way back to Canada. I blogged my way through it but they were on my other site, in an effort to keep everything in one spot, I have moved all my posts here! Hope you enjoy!

Oh wow, now where did I leave off…

To start, I actually tried to write this post yesterday on my day off but inadvertently deleted all of my photos off my camera from this trip so far and from my VanLife adventure last summer and spent the next few hours figuring out how to recover the pictures, which I did manage to do with the exception of 3 or 4 which corrupted along the way. If there are any tech savvy people out there that know how to fix a corrupted photo you would be my hero if you can show me how to get those ones back too.

The first photos are from my nice long relaxing walk along the seawall my first day off. I needed groceries so went for a bit of a journey on foot and really got to take in some of this beautiful town. Panagiouda is about the size of Choiceland but its also something like 600 years old and everything is made of beautiful stone. Even the side walks are stone, lol and potentially 600 years old judging by their condition in some spots but it was still a great walk. The latter 2 shots are the larger town of Mytilene a hopping little tourist/university town with FABULOUS gelato (#DaveLife on Instagram for proof).

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It’s been a looooong week. I cannot believe its actually only been a week that I have been here as I write this. But it has also been incredible. The people we interact with have been through so much it is an honour to serve and try and make their time here a bit more comfortable. Most of the migrants and refugees who are here expected to only be here a couple days, many of those have been here 6 months or more, waiting to move on.

My time on camp these past couple days has been spent in an area called the Olive Grove. Technically outside of the camp it houses many of the refugees from African countries. It makes me miss my crew back at Matthew House as many are from the same countries Burundi/Congo etc. It also gives me the chance to work on my French though they speak way to fast and with way to thick of an accent for me to really catch what they are saying. Ha!

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One of my roles has also been as driver, which has been an adventure of its own. The Greeks they drive aggressive thats for sure and the streets don’t exactly line up in straight lines like back in good ole SK haha, combine that with a serious lack of street signs and a phone whose GPS is outta whack and oh boi! It’s been a bit of a gong show at points. Now at least I have a local SIM though and getting more and more used to the streets by the day.

I also had a day off but it was rainy and my chest cold told me to be lazy so it didn’t hold much adventure unfortunately. I do feel a heck of a lot better though. Oh and we had a little bible study thing last night too for the EuroRelief staff. ¬†Was great to spend some time with people outside of the camp setting where there is a lot more ability to relax and honestly converse. It’s a really good crew that they have going here. PLUG MOMENT: If you or someone you know wants to get deeper involved with whats happening here check them out by clicking here.¬†

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Anyways I finally have my hot water fixed so I am about to check out for the night.
Ciao till next time
D

Around the world in 60 days!

2017 has already been amazing for me, I spent a month in Greece and another month traveling my way back to Canada. I blogged my way through it but they were on my other site, in an effort to keep everything in one spot, I have moved all my posts here! Hope you enjoy!

I have arrived!

After 24ish hours of flights and layovers I have arrived at my final destination in the town of Mytilene, Greece, an absolutely beautiful little town on the Island of Lesvos. The flights were fairly uneventful, and my luggage arrived with me which is all I ever ask for and is a definite praise report!

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2017-02-02 12.20.51I am already fighting the language barrier, haha the people who run the hotel I am staying at are this lovely old greek couple but they don’t seem to speak any english. So this could be an adventure in itself. Thankfully the my new friend Elton from EuroRelief¬†was there to help me get set up. Already impressed with this organization, all of my interactions with their organization have been top notch thus far.2017-02-03 15.36.03

It was beautiful and sunny when I arrived but after the sun went down it got quite cold. The app on my phone says that it is -2. I am lucky that the place I am staying has some awesome heaters so its not so bad. It does make me feel for the refugees though and I understand now why there has been such a huge call for donations from the UNHCR. Its a really damp cold that sticks to you and would make things very difficult in the ill equipped tent cities. If you are interested to help you can donate through this link. (If you are reading this and know of other places to donate please include them in the comments)

Till Next time!

D

(my first look at Greece as I flew into the Athens airport)