As I was looking for inspiration, facts and the general state of the world the other day I came across a document showing the destinies of some refugees who died while fleeing their own countries. I’m gonna share some of them with you, and I believe it is important we all remember that it’s not our fault but we can do something to change the future.

A young man from Afghanistan died from smoke inhalation from fire lit in tin can to keep warm inside an abandoned truck.

A 32 year old man from North Africa was tortured and shot by smugglers. He was found outside Thriassio Hospital.

A 16 year old boy from Syria was killed after a car chase in Evros. The Greek border police and FRONTEX officials were involved.

A 25 year old man from Sub-Saharan Africa drowned. He was found in port of Ceuta in an advanced state of decomposition.

An Iranian person, the sex is not known, died in an accident. The smugglers’ car overturned as they tried to avoid a police road block.

An unknown person died instantly after being run over by a train near Feres while walking along the railway.
Khaled Khodena from Iraq was murdered due to his religious beliefs after deportation from Sweden, his asylum claim was rejected.

An unknown person drowned. He/She was pushed off a jetski when the smuggler saw coastguards approaching in Andalusia.

An unknown man was murdered, shot by Frontex officer while shooting at boats crossing TR-GR border by the Evros river.

25 men from Sub-Saharan Africa suffocated while traveling on a boat with 275 others. The SOS was sent 35 miles from Lampedusa.

A 23 year old man was crushed to death. He was found in the wheel-bay of an Iberia passenger plane in Spain.

The past week I have been researching how refugees are treated around Europe and I’ve been trying to find out more about Frontex and their work. I heard many stories about them when traveling in north west Africa, but in Europe no one seem to know them and the governments doesn’t want to talk about them. Frontex is the company that keep unwanted people from entering Europe. Unwanted by who? I ask. No answer. Yet.

I have also been trying to plan my trip to Sudan in December, and I have come to the conclusion that I can’t go this time. Instead I am looking at the possibility of going to Latvia and do my photo-project with the stateless people living in the country. It’s been done many times, but I believe it’s a story that has to keep being told.


Bordeaux – San Sebastian – Madrid

This is totally crazy. Two nights ago, I was sleeping on a couch in Bordeaux. The night before last night I was sleeping on cardboard and blankets in a flat in San Sebastian. Last night, I hardly slept at all, trying to settle in the airport among a hundred other people.

The last three days feels like a week. We stood for hours and hours outside Bordeaux waiting for a ride, and it took us the whole day to get to San Sebastian. But we got there. We had the wrong number to our CS-host so we couldn’t get hold of him and tell him that we were on our way. But he had given us his address, and our last ride, a truck driver, took us in his car and drove us all the way to the front door. There we stood, in the city center of San Sebastian outside an old building in stone, waiting for someone that could be our host or someone that knew him.

The first person to come out of the door was a young woman. We asked if she knew Javi, and sure she did. It’s her flat mate. “But he just left, a couple of minutes ago. But his computer is still up in the living room, so he’ll probably be back very soon.”
We entered the hall way, and sat down on the floor waiting.
After not more than ten minutes, a young guy entered. I asked “Javi?”. At first he looked very confused, but seeing the two of us with our bags on the floor he quickly came to the conclusion of who we were. The hitch-hikers. “Hello!” we greeted each other with kisses on the cheeks. “ I didn’t think you would be coming, but welcome.”

The couch was already busy by one of the flat-mates, and there were no spare mattresses, so we figured we would simply sleep on the floor. Our host showed us around San Sebastian that night, there was apparently a jazz-festival going on. The second festival we simply came across on our trip. We enjoyed some good music and watched the ocean as the waves swept in over the beach. Some people were still swimming. It was sad that we only had one night and a couple of morning-hours in the town, it was a very nice place and I would love to spend a couple of days there.

When we were going to bed, our host made a simple mattress out of cardboard and some blankets for us in the living room. It was very nice, and surprisingly comfortable. We slept all night, Jiaxin being sick and me starting to get a bad cold. We decided that our hitch-hiking had come to an end. The next day we caught the bus to Madrid, paying 32 euro each for a six hour drive to the capital of Spain.

That day my cold got worse. My fever rose. As we met our friend Anna, who works as an au-pair in Madrid, I hardly had any energy left. We sat down in a park, she being very happy that we were there. “You know, there is always like one say, oh we’re gonna come visit you in Madrid and so, but it never happens. When you first said that you would come and visit me, I thought ‘well that would be nice, but probably won’t happen’, and now you’re here! It’s so cool!”
We also met a new friend from Canada, Angela. She’s also working as an au-pair in Madrid and had made friends with Anna that same day. We walked to a park with an old temple and had a very nice time. There were lots of people having their wedding-photos taken in all sorts of angels, we followed them and took some pictures as well, and talked about Lady Gaga and that paparazzi-song. Anna and Angela followed us to the subway-station later that night, Anna’s host-mum had printed a timetable and made arrows pointing to the train we must take to make sure we don’t miss the last one. We hugged them good bye and went to sleep at Madrid’s airport.

It was horrible.We were not the only ones’, there were at least a hundred other people staying there. Some trying to sleep, some asleep, some talking, some singing, some playing cards, some playing yatzy… we couldn’t sleep either and both of us moved around a lot that night. I spent the last hour before the security gate opened at a 24-hour-open café with a warm cup of chamomile tea, trying to relax enough to sleep at least an hour. But no. as I entered the security gate, there were benches. Oh my gosh they were so comfortable! There were three seats I could lay straight on, sinking a little in the foam, and I had one hour pretty decent sleep. Finally. At the airplane I slept all the way to Brussels, where I changed plane to go to Göteborg. Soon I would be home. Sweet home, bed amazing bed.

Now I just hope my cold will get better until tomorrow.
The price for hitch-hiking is that we both got horrible fever, but I don’t know if we should blame the hitch-hiking, the weather, or our lack of real warm clothes, honey and nose-spray. I know what I will bring next time, that’s for sure. A sleeping-bag, a small mattress, a light tent and nose-spray.

The times have been many when we’ve wished for a tent the past eight days, so it’s definitely worth the carrying. Though, then we won’t be able to travel with only hand-luggage with Ryan air as now. But maybe it’s worth checking in a tent. We’re not flying that much anyway. Maybe I should have taken a few more turns in the bulls balls in Milano, it might have given us more luck on the final part of our trip.

Looking for couches

We’ve spent the whole morning and lunchtime to try and find a couch in Madrid and one in San Sebastian. It’s difficult though, because the internet connection keep breaking down. We will leave Bordeaux early next morning, about seven or half past seven.

Later today I will go to the museum and look at the exhibition of African masks, “invisible art” while Jiaxin will be shown the road we will have to walk to get to the station tomorrow to start our hitch-hiking.