I owe you an apology. I have effectively neglected my blog for the last three months. And haven’t even uploaded a single picture. Though, maybe you didn’t notice.
Now is the part where I try to give you some kind of summary.
It’s been one year since I left Barcelona on my bicycle and the fact that I’ve ended up in Athens is somewhat a gigantic but fantastic mistake. It was colder further north in Greece and I cycled south to survive the winter with the intention of going to the island of Crete where the weather is pretty mild. I had Christmas dinner (I even cooked it myself) in Athens with my mate Jamie (packit.in) who cycled here from London and two other special people, Claude (claudesomot.com) who I met in a hostel further north and was alone for crimbo, and Marine, who I met in Albania and cycled with for a while (and who also cycled here from France). Around this period in December I also found an incredible project in an abandoned hotel which houses refugees (and me too): City Plaza. I was actually invited by Marine, so I probably would never have found it if I hadn’t met her and Anais all those months ago in Albania (and taken the boat to nowhere:)).
I started volunteering at City Plaza in the cold days of late December, just doing the general stuff: cooking, cleaning, working in the bar etc., but eventually ended up teaching English to adults (my actual job), occasionally to children and then over time, things escalated.
I took over the school and began starting extra classes, finding teachers, organising activities, and became very busy. Claude flew back from France and we worked together to create an amazing photo project where we gave the children cameras and took over 10,000 photos in 3 weeks! (There will be an initial exhibition for this project in Metz, France, (link) and we think it’s likely that it will travel to other countries too.) I began getting involved in the political scene here…attending protests, workshops and discussions about refugees and immigration. From City Plaza we helped create one of the biggest protests here in Athens (around 5,000-8,000 people) on the 18th March to fight against fascism, racism, and the dodgy EU-Turkey deal.
I’ve sacrificed a lot of sleep (my dearest friend). But I’m enjoying every second. And last week, whilst visiting a school to see if it was suitable for refugee children (there are over 130 here at City Plaza), I was offered a job. I start on Monday.
So I’ve somehow become trapped in this rather peculiar city. A city on the brink of a perpetual, never-happening revolution. It lies somewhere between lovely and horrible, hope and despair. And right now I can’t think of being anywhere else.
It looks like I’ll be in Athens until the end of June, before I get out of here.
And I’m writing a book about my time here. I hope you get to read it one day! (it won’t be ready for a long while)
In the meantime, I hope to update you with some things I have been doing in the last few months, but as things go, I can’t promise anything.