Lévignacq, August 21.
Day 27 of the March on Brussels. From Dax, 36 km.
Yesterday evening the bad news went around very quickly. The big van had broken down. The support cars that remained would be needed to transport the kitchen. This meant that everyone would have to bring his or her own backpack for today’s leg of 36 kilometres.
Many people surrendered on forehand. They had a party and slept late as if they were on holiday. They would come by bus or other means. Some people woke up at five and started the march in the dark. They got lost. I myself refused to let the circumstances influence custom, but still I departed pretty late, at nine o’ clock, together with Jesus Christ.
Jesus has a suitcase on wheels. So that meant no paths through the woods today. It wouldn’t be recommendable anyway to prolong the distance even more. Before we exit the town, he finds a shopping cart, loads all his stuff on it, and starts to push. All day long some lucky people have been treated to the sight of Jesus Christ pushing a shopping cart through the French countryside.
Jesus in the countryside
Walking thirty-six kilometres with full gear under the blazing sun is not easy. More than a physical exercise it’s a mental exercise. I don’t complain. Instead I think about the legionnaires of Julius Caesar. On a forced march they would cover more distance than us, with more weight on their shoulders, on much more difficult roads. And at the end they would have to build up a small city, with fortifications included, or fight. The thought makes the walk a bit easier.
We have entered the region of Les Landes. It’s a big plain planted with trees. If I remember well what a friend of mine once explained to me, this is where Napoleon got the wood for his fleet. For sustainability’s sake, the emperor planted new trees after that. Ever since these forests have been used for the production of paper.
As anyone interested in the subject will know, trees are a very primitive way to make paper. Hemp is much better. It grows many times faster and it gives much higher quality paper. It lasts ages. The U.S. Declaration of Independence is written on hemp paper. If it were written on tree paper it would have desintegrated a long time ago.
Legalisation of hemp would not only give us better quality paper, better quality clothes and lots of other things. It would decrease expenditure on a crazy war on drugs and increase income tax at the same time. California (and not Holland) will be at the forefront of this battle. When Aldous Huxley visited California in the 30s he had the idea that the region was twenty years ahead of the rest of the world. Hopefully, the world has caught up in the meantime. Full and unconditional legalisation of hemp is not only an objective of the revolution. It’s a question of pure common sense.
Jesus arrives in Lévignacq
We arrive at five o’ clock in the enchanting little village of Lévignacq. The others arrive two hours later. They made it. We made it. We sit down on the terrace of the only bar in the village, in front of the church, to hold our assembly. The few people from the village are present and they receive us with open arms. It’s lovely to be in these god forgotten places. The family atmosphere make them feel like home.
Assembly in Lévignac
Dax, August 20
Day 26 of the March on Brussels. From St. Vincent, 25 km.
Yesterday’s leg was extremely dull. More than 20 kilometers all straight along the national road, without any view on either side. Today the road to Dax is all straight once more. So early in the morning, me and comrade Marianne prepare a little rebellion against the route commission. We want to avoid the noise and the stench and the endless asphalt up ahead, at any cost.
The cost of course, is that any route alternative to the straight line will be longer, and possibly much longer if you don’t know the way, if you don’t have a map and if you don’t have a compass. And if you have neither adequate reserves of water and food, the cost of taking the panoramic route could turn out to be too high.
Jesus and the flowers
Fortunately, we have Jesus Christ. He makes up for everything. With Jesus on our side, we need not fear. So we take the first path into the woods that we can find. We are only three. The others lack faith, and carry on. ‘Forgive them, Jesus’, I think, ‘they don’t know what they’re doing.’ But the fact of the matter is that they know exactly what they’re doing. It’s us who don’t have the faintest idea.
We did the right thing, in the end. We end up on the country roads of southern France, walking through the cornfields as the morning fog slowly disappears to reveal the horizon. The corn is about to be cut. Some of it already is. In this region people do not only grow corn, but also beans, and ducks. We accidently walk into one of the ducks farms. It was a shocking experience. I am used to see ducks splash around in the ponds, or in comics. I have a special bond with them. But these were not normal ducks, these are the ducks that we eat.
They wobble around in fenced fields by the thousands. They have their wings clipped to prevent them from flying away. Among them the strongest prevail, they still preserve a kind of duckly dignity. But the weakest among them can hardly walk. They lose their feathers. Some them just lay themselves down in between the corn to die of their own accord. It’s the only freedom they have. Avoid the butcher’s knife.
Duck farm in southern France
We walk out of the farm and we don’t look back. I don’t want to think about the geese, or the chickens, or the pigs. But I am fully aware that this will be another aspect of the revolution. Less meat, better meat. Health for all, respect for life.
We reach the Adour river. It flows gently and broadly through green bushes on both sides. Now we know the way, because this river flows through Dax. For a moment we consider the ‘Tom Sawyer option’ to build a raft, but we are forced to discard it. Dax is upstream.
'The Tom Sawyer option'
So we have to walk on. We follow the small path along the stream as the sun starts to burn. The only tavern we have encountered at one of the bridges was closed. We have no water, and we still have a long way to go. Fortunately, out of the green appears a small farm guarded by a colony of suspicious geese. We wait until the door opens and a tiny old lady comes out to greet us. We explain who we are, where we’re from and where we’re going. She walks back into the house to bring us a bottle of cool fresh water straight from the fridge. She wishes us good luck and off we go. It was exactly what we needed. Now we are sure that one way or another, we will make it.
Marianne on the bank of the Adour
Back on the road to Dax we encounter a group that got lost. They had received an escort from the gendarmes, but in the end they went off on a path that led nowhere. But now the worst is over. Together we march into town, holding high the banner of the 15M.
At the evening assembly once again very few local people attend. The ones who do try to explain the situation in France. They say that many people see the 15M revolution as an old fashioned class struggle. They say a lot of people from the middle classes sympathise with the principles of real democracy and transparency, but they view the indignados as a ‘they’, not ‘we’. Apart from that the situation in France is different from that in Spain. Someone says the French middle classes think they are untouchable. ‘Of course many things are wrong, but life is good, and shit ain’t going to happen to us.’ That idea.
The same probably goes for the northern European countries. They think they’re well off, and that it’ll be that way at least for the foreseeable future. They might find out sooner than later that they are wrong, if not for economical reasons, then at least for environmental reasons. If a society is not sustainable, then in the end nobody is untouchable.
Scene from an assembly in Dax
Our comrade Jim reports the following on wednesday’s protest against the papal visit in Madrid:
“A quick overview of the very good manifestación last night:
Started in Tirso at 7:30. I was riding the metro from Iglesia and the metro was literally packed like sardines with JMJ kids but as we passed through Sol it became apparent that they weren’t the only ones on that train because “no soy, que calor, que calor, que calor” broke out, and at the Tirso station, “esta papa no la pagamos!” It took us 2 hours to reach sol, where the manifestación basically turned into a big fiesta, very cheerful but eventually we started moving back to Tirso. Moments later, the national police swept in and cordoned off the calles into Sol, and cleared the plaza (although they were letting people in small groups or JMJ merchandise through.) We stayed there for a while but this was the planned time for the manifestación to end so gradually everyone trickled away. Desite rumours of a gathering in Atocha there were only a few people there and the night ended with a small asamblea in Tirso which decided to hold an asamblea at noon today to decide what to do about the pope’s arrival; I don’t know what they decided but I’m headed down there now to see what’s going on.
More photos and videos to follow…”