In Athens on 8 May 2012 at 17:10
Athens, May 8
Days are slow in our camp on the hill. The heat signs the time. In the afternoon, people are snoozing on the steps of the theater in the shadow.
Most of us will be here at least until the 12th, or else until the 15th, the day the agora officially ends. Some will stay a little longer.
Apart from our camp on the mountain we can dispose of a squat in the center of Exarchia, for showers, electricity, internet. People move up and down, but most of us prefer to camp in the public space. Lots of different people in a squat leads to trouble.
On Syntagma things were pretty quiet. Many cameras but no field battles or demonstrations. A thematic assembly on immigration was organised as a part of the agora. It’s a very weighty matter in Greece, it was well organised, but it didn’t catch a lot of attention from the locals.
It’s early evening. My mom is here for a revolutionary visit, together with a friend of hers. We walk through Exarchia, on the way to the hill. I tell them to be careful.
“There are anarchists on the loose here.”
“They don’t bite, do they?”
On the central square of Exarchia, by pure chance, we encounter the comrades who suspected José Miguel of being an infiltrator. They had abbandoned the squat before the march arrived and they hadn’t shown their faces to anyone. They are about to take the plane and leave. Two other comrades from the march to Brussels who had come here to organise the agora had already left.
They look pale and tired. The city has worn them down, both physically and mentally. They go back. It has been a delusion. I hope Spain will give them new strength.
A day earlier I had encountered Timo the flamboyant Finn on Syntagma. He has been here about as long as our other comrades, but he is not thinking about going away. He adores this place.
Athens is grim. You have to be able to cope with that, Timo explains. ‘The dream of the Greek middle classes is over. And with it, the bourgeois way of life. This attracts a whole different type of people.’
Many of them are concentrated in Exarchia. Artists, squatters and punks from over the world in a maelstrom of drugs, repression, resistance, creation and destruction. And no hope.
It’s fascinating to see. The years of the big boom are definitely over. This is a city in full decline. You don’t even have to walk through the streets to notice it. You can see it from above, from the mountain of Exarchia.
At night, the city fails to shine. It’s no happy blanket of lights, like you would expect a metropolis to be. You can see patches of darkness, especially in the neighbourhoods of the center.
For the moment only the Acropolis is still immune against the expanding darkness. She remains a golden rock, suspended in the air while the city around her loses its exuberance, and lights are dimming, every day.