The boat to Chios looks like one of these beachlanders from the opening scene of Spielberg’s Saving private Ryan. Small and noisy. We are only five passengers for the one-hour crossing to the tiny Island of Chios. My official crossing to Europe. I install myself on the roof deck, where I meet Giorgos(www.giorgos-moutafis.com). He is panting heavily and looks tired. He is tired he tells me. He just spent two days looking for smugglers to accept him for the illegal crossing from Izmir to Greece, with no such luck. He is a freelance photographer. Sorry, a hardcore freelance photographer, making a story about illegal North African refugees trying to reach Europe through Turkey. He shows me amazing pics (he travels light, two cameras (Canon and Leica), a sleeping bag and a Mac Book Pro). The crossing is the last episode of his Documentary. He feels he needs one last picture from within a forlorn tiny boat, amidst real refugees on a real crossing. He feels he needs to make that journey, starting from the same point as his subjects. So he spent two days looking for smugglers, trying to convince them to take him on their lucrative crossings. No luck this time. He has to go back to Athens, refund and sort out what the legal risks are if he gets caught during his trip. We talk the entire trip. Before I realize it we are in Chios. I am in Europe. Customs was a joke. I tried to get a European insurance, with no such luck. I will be crossing a couple of countries with no room for error, on the insurance level. Giorgos and I decide to meet up later on the night ferry to Athens.
After a refreshing beer and my first pork meat in two months I line up at the dock and see the huge ferry glide in the harbor. On the top deck I meet up with Giorgos. We get some Belgian Stella’s and talk some more. Giorgos talks about his reality, I am talking to someone who is living a life I dream to have. We get some more beers, before getting in our sleeping bags. I fall asleep with the sight of a zillion stars above me and the sound of the heavy pounding diesel engines. I sleep.
I wonder if he got the picture.
The ferry docked at seven in the morning in Athens. I said farewell to Giorgos and hit the road for Patras, 200 km to the Northwest of the capital of Greece. Halfway I treated myself on a greasy burger in a roadside McDonalds. Degeneration started to creep in. Patras. Greece. Greece is motorcycle-loving country. Patras is the Mecca for two wheeled monsters in Greece. As I entered town, I passed Yamaha, Suzuki, Harley Davidson, Motto Guzzi and finally a KTM/Ducati workshop. As I had some time to spare, before catching the ferry to Ancona, Italy, I had an oil change done, the first proper oil change in almost two months. The mechanic also fixed the clutch and told me that I should take better care of my bike. Maybe I should and maybe I should not, monster or not, it is still a machine. Three ‘o clock, I am aboard the enormous ferry that will take me to Ancona. It is like a floating temporary city. I install myself on the deck, next to the swimming pool for the sixteen-hour journey. I try not to listen to the Flemish truck drivers tanning their protruding enormous guts while discussing the latest models of trucks and one of the guy’s girlfriend. Listening to them makes me feel unmanly and soft. Therefore I plunge myself in the fictive world of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Love in the time of cholera. I finish the book and feel sad. The magic sunset sweeps me of my feet with nostalgia. My journey is over. I find myself a free hard deck bench and try to sleep.