My feet hurry down the slope but I am not quick enough. I sink down on the soft moving bed of life jackets scattered across the shore. People have already started jumping off the boat as I get there.
This one aimed for the lighthouse where the coast is rocky and stream and where the usual welcome committee of volunteers and photographers is nowhere to be seen. Here, there is only me and O. today, and a couple of local fishermen who wait to gather whatever they can from the dinghy once migrants have disembarked.
Hands rise to the air in sign of gratitude, a rapid unwrapping of cellphones from their layers of plastic wrapping. More life jackets, rubber rings, bags too heavy to carry now when filled up with water and drenched clothing add up on the stony beach before people continue onto the mud road which leads to the closest village.
This is Europe, it’s where one part of a long and perilous road ends and another one begins.
People who fly from death and destruction do not expect to find a Europe overwhelmed and with borders opening and closing as they go along. Things move so slowly. It is knowing where to go but not getting there. The beginning of the European road to freedom begins with waiting, walking, of not knowing where to sleep from one night to the next.
This is the migrant route through the Balkans, the route that leads to northern Europe. The road that leads to some sort of freedom.