Outside the Box

16 Jun

Our own crossing was un-eventful. We’d heard stories of others building home-made hot air balloons out of bedsheets and flying over the border at night. Some were spotted and shot down. Others had practiced taking incrementally frigid showers over a period of several months and plunged themselves into the Danube in the dead of winter when guards disliked even slightly opening the doors of their heated little boxes, crossing into Yugoslavia. Tito’s regime was, apparently, more lenient and they were smuggled across the Adriatic into Italy. We chose to go the other way. We took a holiday to the Black Sea and simply swam out a few kilometers doing the breast stroke, so as not to attract too much attention. We waded out in the middle of the day, slowly and methodically. My father called it reverse psychology. We were picked up by a Turkish cargo ship, which took us to Bozkurt. From there we were driven in a rusty Trabant to Ankara, then took a bus to Izmir. We boarded another cargo vessel which sailed across the Mediterranean to Athens, Greece. And from there we flew to Rome. It seemed quite easy and organized. We picked up money sent from my aunt at several American Express offices. It was a weird sort of adventure. We were never shot at. America made itself known to us a few months after, in the late 70s, in the form of Cleveland, Ohio.


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