COVER STORY concrete shelter and tells us to wait 20 minutes. He is going to get someone who can help us. He hasn't yet mentioned money. We wait. 15 minutes, an eternity. We could get killed on the spot here, without a sound and lost forever. The driver arrives with a second car and a young man. The driver leaves with $15. The negotiations begin. He wants $350 per person to take us to the other side of the border to the first Greek village. Samo negotiates: I am separate, I am
French. He tries for $200 for the ttree of them. For that price, he proposed taking us to the other side of the barbed wire fence, but would not guide us to the town closest to the border. We would have to do the remaining 35 kilometers. At one point, I take Samo aside, I don't know what's being negotiated but I tell him that all of this seems dangerous.
Finally, they agree: $200 to the border. We get into the car. A few kilometers later he drops us off and asks us to wait. He leaves to "there is no danger..." He takes our see baggage with him! We are on the side of the
road, in the woods, our feet
in the snow.
to do is go straight at the first light.
lfnflfr,um, bm ffi?m0 uNtffi
i i,r- :
bGilmaGffitrdnltrn M trfir us b wffi m milts rmr. Uh wail.
has left us with this advice: don't be seen. He returns 30 minutes later. He drives us to a village he says isjust at the border. He alerts the
rest of us that he won't be taking us across but one of his friends will. Luckily, there's a full moon. He leaves us in the hands of another driver. We take back our luggage. The mountains are lit by the sky. Gago translates: we pass the border and after that, there is only 35 kilometers. The tle mountain behind us is Greece. All we have
The trouble is that little doesn't seem so little. I advise them to get as much information as possible. It's 9:30 pm. We are in the middle of a Bulgarian mountain we don't quite know where. We start walking behind the guide. Absolute silence is required. He shows us the border station at the bottom of a valley. The guide stops more frequently the closer we get to the valley. We are finally before a wall with barbed wires. We push them aside and go through with difficulty. Samo had already paid the driver. The guide
tells us to keep going up and stay on the right until we reach the top of the hill. At first light and upon the first peak you will see it. A short walk of 35 kilometers. Not more. With only the moonlight to guide us. But it's our only chance. We can see clearly, but the path is covered with snow. And, it's powdery. We are in Greece. I ask to take pictures. They are afraid of the flash.
They're worried we'll be discovered and remember the guide's advice. But it's obvious that there isn't a soul in this lost corner
Armenian International Magazine | The Big Escape - June 2000