Sunday, 16 March 2014

Arrival in Edirne

16 March 2014

So here I am! Edirne! My hotel room could be better, but it’s alright. You do feel like you’re in a different part of the world here. There is a massive, beautiful mosque outside my window. It’s Sunday night, yet everyone seems to be out in the streets playing backgammon. All major roads are decorated with thousands of flags, which I am guessing are meant to show support to a political party. I’ve driven for two hours from Istanbul to Edirne and scanned every radio station – I did not hear a single English-language song. It’s not that I minded. I love Turkish music. But it’s still surprising. As you approach the border Turkish songs are mixed with Greek and Bulgarian. The transition is gradual. The people across the border are probably still Muslims. I’ll see tomorrow.

View from my hotel room
First thing I’ll do when I get up will be to find a copyshop of some sort. Stupidly, I forgot to print out participant information sheets and consent forms. All interviewees will have to read and sign before they can participate in my research. Then I’m going to head over to Swilengrad accommodation centre, and start doing some interviews. I really have no idea what to expect… Will people even speak English?

Last time I wrote I was quite optimistic that everything was going to work out. This was somewhat unreasonable. Martin keeps warning me that I am underestimating the language issue. Swilengrad have changed their mind, and no longer want to be interviewed. It seems as though they have no one who speaks English. They told him that I should just drive straight to the accommodation centre. That’s what I’ll do then, but it still poses the question how they can communicate with asylum seekers. How can they inform applicants for asylum about their rights if no one can talk to them? I guess this is one of the first things that I will have to find out.

I am hoping for a response from Mr Nikas tomorrow, so I’ve got a green light for visiting Orestiada detention centre. If I don’t get a response by 2pm, I will call him again. Alright, off to bed now. Long day ahead tomorrow…

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