Self is now on p. 155 of The Naked Don’t Fear the Water (about halfway). She truly appreciates how deadpan Matthieu Aikins is when dealing with certain unforeseen situations. A few pages earlier, a companion takes him to a restaurant in a Kurdish section of Istanbul. “The police don’t come here,” the companion says. At that same moment, “a middle-aged cop walked in, his radio and pistol passing at eye level. We went quiet and looked down at our plates.” LOL
Now, on p. 155, his smuggler tells him they should get going, a ship has been found that will take Aikins and his friend Omar to a Greek island. They are taken in a white Hyundai to a nearby mosque, where they transfer to a taxi driven by “a very nervous Turk” who first takes them “down a steep blind alley” and then has to “reverse back up, the clutch burning.” They eventually arrive at a hotel, where they transfer yet again, to an empty white van. They make a stop to pick up more passengers. “Young men started piling in, one after the other, until they were sitting on each other, their heads at an angle against the ceiling.” Aikins and Omar are sitting all the way in the back, surely they are spared this undecorous seating arrangement, if not then surely Aikins will comment on the extraordinary experience. Only, he doesn’t. All he writes is: “The men were speaking Arabic; I tried the little I knew. The guy on my lap said they were from a village in Aleppo, in northern Syria — I’d been there on reporting trips.” omg, Matthieu has such presence of mind, he can’t stop interviewing people for information, and what better subject than a man sitting on his lap, lol
Finally, they join 50 other migrants in an inflatable rubber boat meant to hold 25. The “pilot” is a refugee who’s never piloted a boat before, but he’s being offered free passage so he gladly accepts the responsibility.
This is all too exciting!