Strolling along a track in the river Evros Delta, in Alexandroupolis, on the border between Greece and Turkey, I could see millions of birds feeding. The lagoons, marshes, and lakes provide a heaven for birds seeking milder weather. The terns, warblers, waders, egrets, oystercatchers, shelducks, eagles, pelicans, cormorants have found their Eden. This spectacle, together with the eerie quiet of the landscape, was my reason for coming here.
My heart fluttered when I heard a sudden splash. Expecting a big bird, I turned slowly. A human arm momentarily caught in a reed bed, showed out of the water. The flow of the river pushed it past the reeds, sweeping it along on its journey.
I froze. Here, in this idyllic, serene waterland, there is neither space nor tolerance for those fleeing poverty and war. I’d read that
Easing myself on a stone, I remembered my grandmother’s story. When I asked her what happened to those trying to cross Evros escaping the aftermath of the 1922 war between Greece and Turkey, she said that in the middle of the river, there is Dream Island. Lapped by gentle waters, protected by olive, lemon, and fig trees, and warmed by a kind sun, it welcomes those seeking refuge. Run by angels, who pick up the drowned and the suicides floating past, it is the real heaven on Earth. The birds on the lagoon are their souls.