Ten years ago, I planned a 1 year sabbatical to travel as a volunteer to 4 different countries. The first stop was Palestine and it was there that everything changed. I chose to stay for 2 years and become part of the struggle for a just peace for Palestine. It was very important to me as a Jewish woman. If you are interested in this story go to my blog at Sandra for Just Peace and read the archived blogs listed from January to June 2006. They tell the story from December 2004 – June 2006. http://miriamswell1.wordpress.com/ I refer to this time as unpeeling the onion as I discover the atrocities inflicted on the Palestinian people.
I have been very fortunate to have traveled to many destinations but most of that travel was through work – as an activist and also back when I was a travel agent and travel instructor. I travelled on fam (familiarization) trips with groups of agents and also as a Tour Escort. When my daughters were growing up, our holidays usually were car trips to the east coast (New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) or to Clearwater, Florida. We did spend a summer in Oslo, Norway selling t shirts, costume jewellery and African crafts but that is a whole story in itself. Later I travelled as a peace activist. This 3 week holiday is just that – a holiday- to visit an area I have fantasized about and to open a new chapter in my Life Story. Ten years later, I am still passionate to see this Just Peace become reality but it time for me to change how I am walking in the world. I am rebirthing my business as a healer and teacher, “Miriamswell Healing Care” in Toronto. I am a Reflexologist and a Doula who uses a variety of healing modalities in my practice. I facilitate workshops in foot massage, aromatherapy, homemade beauty products, homemade cleaning products, vision books, meditation and more.
I came to Greece in March, 2011 for the Canadian Boat to Gaza.
The steering committee realized the only way to complete our project was to have someone on the ground in Greece. They sent me to buy a boat. The boat needed to be refurbished to take 45 activists from Aghios Nicholas, Crete to Gaza, Palestine. I hired a captain and a crew. I hired a lawyer who we could trust. Together he helped to open a company and a bank account. We chose a country to flag the boat. We purchased insurance. I found help to plan a menu for 45 people for 10 days and then purchased the food. I also purchased $30,000 in medicines to take to Gaza. Everyday involved a huge learning curve. I was away from home for 5 months. When the Greek government locked down our boat refusing to let us leave the port, we decided to stage an escape in protest. The Greek coast guards captured our boat after about 20 minutes. Everyone on board in a great Spartacus moment claimed to be the captain.
The Greeks were reluctant to arrest 35 foreigners so they arrested me instead since I was the registered owner of the boat. I was arrested with two others, convicted and given a 30 day suspended sentence.
Eventually the other activists left and I stayed another month in Aghios Nicholas living on our boat “The Tahrir”. Finally we had permission to leave and I sailed with the captain and 2 crew members to Turkey. I even got to drive the boat for an hour or so, on my own.
Now I am back in Greece and this time I am a tourist. I am here to see Greece without an agenda. Greece holds many memories. I made lifelong friendships. I am here to remember and I am here to appreciate this wonderful country.