Afraid to Say Hello in Greece

While on a family holiday in Greece, we stayed a few days on the island of Samos. It's a stone's throw away from Turkey. Just outside of our hotel was one of the main ports of the island. During the afternoons I would notice many refugees would be out there, strolling along the water, feeding pigeons, fishing, and just hanging out.

I was curious about them but was too shy to approach them. At first, I gave them some distance as I wasn't sure how comfortable they are with people coming up to them to start asking questions, assuming we would be able to communicate. I'm a people-watcher and was sitting at a cafe across the street, enjoying the shade on a hot afternoon. Finally my curiosity was too much and so I ventured across the street to try and meet them.

A couple guys were fishing and I went to approach them. All I knew to say was, "salaam" for hello. My awkwardness took over and I just flashed my camera and asked with motions if it's ok to take pictures. The first guy didn't speak english, so he called over his nearby buddy to come and translate. A young man came up who spoke some english. They were both pretty friendly and let me snap away as they tried to bait a hook. We got to talking a bit. One is named Nidal who is Kurdish. The other lived in Aleppo in Syria. It was interesting to learn how to properly pronounce Syria as Sur-ria (my phonetic guess). Nidal showed me a scar from some shrapnel. They both were trying to get to Germany, but were at Samos until they could get permission to move on.

The refugee talk only last a few minutes as other pressing concerns were taking place. They were trying to figure out how to tie a knot for the hooks on their fish lines. The fishing poles were sort of toys found at a souvenir shop nearby. The only bait they had was bits of bread. Minutes passed quickly as I went from photographing them to helping them tie a knot on the hook. Later I realized how I had forgotten they were refugees as we just hung out and laughed about tiny fish catches and the trouble with tiny knots and sharp objects.

Eventually they each caught tiny fish, some of which they tossed to nearby cats. I had to go catch up with my family and we parted ways until the next day.