An Irreducible Village
In March to Athens on 28 April 2012 at 15:36
Day 173-XCIX, from Θήβα to Ερυθρές, 13 km.
Erythres, April 28
We are on our final approach to Athens, and reinforcements keep arriving. From Italy this time, three comrades who had already participated in the march from Rome to Naples. Like lost sons and daughters they come flocking back to the tribe for the grand finale. Hopefully, they won’t be the last.
The atmosphere in the group has been very calm in the last few days. We don’t fight, but neither do we jam. It’s like everyone is coming to terms with the idea of the march ending and the family splitting up.
Another thing we have stopped doing is holding popular assemblies, or even really trying to organise them.
If there were enough interest from the public, I’m sure we would do our best to create a dialogue. But there’s a time for words and a time for deeds. And one for apathy as well. Clearly, this isn’t the time for words.
On our way through Greece we have never lacked sympathy and moral support. But only on a few exceptional occasions have the locals participated in an assembly.
What’s left to decide is our entry in Athens and the square to take. We will be in Eleusis for May day, where we’ll hold our last scheduled internal assembly of the march. From there we have four days to enter the city.
Where do we go? The general spirit of the group is pretty clear on this. Primary objective Syntagma. For its symbolic value, and because we marched for months to get here. It’s not very likely we’ll camp there, if only because it’s reflection day before the elections and any political manifestation is banned. But on the other hand, we are mad enough to try.
In the end, I think comrade Mary is right when she tells us not to worry. Like with all other important decisions, the answer will manifest itself when the time to talk about it is up.
Today we leave Thebes and we don’t look back. The road goes winding up again. In the distance we see the village of Erythres at the foot of the hills. We will have to cross those. On the other side there is the sea, and the great metropolis of Athens.
The clouds are hanging low over the peaks. To the west there is the battlefield of Plataea.
Plataea was the last of three decisive battles between the Greeks and the Persians, the appendix of the second Persian invasion.
You can imagine the dynamics of the battle from the configuration of the terrain. The Persians outnumbered the Greeks three to one. They wanted to give battle in the plain, a perfect space of manoeuvre for their cavalry.
The Greeks knew the risk. They didn’t move from their camp up the slopes. Only when the Persians menaced to encircle them did they faint a retreat. The entire Persian army went after them into the hills. At that point, the Greeks stood and fought on their own terrain, and won.
We arrive in the friendly village of Erythres. When we take the square, we are made to feel at home. People bring us food, invite us to coffee, and tell us about the depression. Life was good here, only a few years ago. Now there is no work, no money. The terraces of the village bars around our camp are empty.
Erythres will see better days, surely. The villagers go proud of their hospitality, but they warn us that things could get rough in the square. The people of Erythres are said to be stubborn as the Greeks who resisted the Persians, and as a small tribe of Gauls who resisted the Romans.
“Sometimes this place is like the village of Asterix and Obelix.”