All packed up and ready to go, 32 people , 14 nationalities, one mission, go to Gaza., some long term , some for a few days. Rumours abound that we will have a fight on our hands. Cement arrives at port. Some Palestinian friends arrive to help us load it on, crew are doing last minute checks on the boat, passengers going through training and safety talks etc, embassies informed, bags loaded on to truck, cameras charged, goodbye calls made……..still the rumours……
7.00 a.m.,lobby local hotel larnaca, Passengers, crew, activists, journalists, land crew gather for meeting.
8.00 a.m.luggage goes down to port, we all walk together to port, passports in hand, hoping but slightly pessimistic. Immigration , police and our agent are waiting for us. Passports handed in , bags loaded on boats and we sit and wait, one hour, two, four. five……Stories begin to filter through. Some how 2 little boats and a small group of like minded people have become the conscience of the world. “OUTSIDE GOVERNMENTS” are scared of us and what noise we might make. Phone calls are made to the Cypriot government to stop us leaving, pressure put on them. Suddenly, the Cypriot government, always our ally, have their hands tied. 6 hours after arriving at the port, hot and tired, passports are handed back to us and we are back in the hotel lobby for another meeting and agree to do it all again tomorrow. Deals and negotiations go on onto the night…
Back in lobby. One activist had to leave to find alternative way in to see his family in Gaza. Phone calls start coming in to all our phones. We are impounded, we can go, we can not go, one boat can, two boats can , no boat can, no cement, some cement etc etc etc…….
Quick shopping trip arranged. 20 tool kits one for each of 20 families in Gaza, educational kits, toys and a symbolic gesture of 20 olive saplings. Our cargo is always only a part of our missions, we want to continue to break the siege on Gaza.
Back down to port. Denied entry, back to lobby, more meetings, more phonecalls, more pressure. Greek friends arrive, negotiations continue, pressure still being mounted from outside on cypriot government. no voyage today……..
Hoping to at least get permission for one boat to travel. Need to cut down numbers on boat. Derek will go as crew and return, i will stay as land crew so as to allow journalists and others to travel. Phone calls continue , laptops being charged up as stories being written are updated with changes constantly.Frustration very high but so is determination. We have quite obviously ruffled some very big feathers and we wont stop now. No mission today. Another long day goes in to another long night.
Port closed, meetings and negotiations continue…….