In March to Athens on 16 April 2012 at 20:49
Day 161-LXXXVII, from Εράτεινη to Γαλαξίδι, 22 km.
Galaxidi, April 16
It’s eight in the morning, the tent is lit up by the first light. Today is a marching day, it’s time to get up. If the sun is out, you get woken up by the heat, you don’t get the chance to snooze for another five minutes, because it soon becomes unbearable, you have to get out.
You sit up, you put on the same stinking clothes as always, you open your tent, and you wonder where you are.
You’re on the beach. The sea is five meters away. On the other side of the small bay, you see the hills of the Peloponnese in a blue haze. This must be Eratini.
First thing, you take a whizz. In the villages it’s no problem. There’s always the countryside around. But in the cities you have to choose your bathroom carefully. You look for a tree or another piece of green in a quiet place, and you mark your territory like a dog.
Then you stumble to the breakfast table. Among the first people to rise there is Mami. She is in charge of the pantry. Some say she is in charge period. “¡Es una mamicracia y lo sabeis!” people sing, but that isn’t really true.
The content of the breakfast table always varies. On a good day there is bread, homemade marmelade, local honey, cheese, pastries, oranges and juice. On a normal day you’re lucky to find some biscuits, a piece of bread, and yesterday’s leftovers. Sometimes there is nothing at all.
If there are leftovers, you take some along for the road. At ten we should be walking. After breakfast you break up your tent.
“¡Juanito! ¡Diez minutos y a la puta calle!” I say to my roommate. He grunts, he grins. He knows I’m joking as far as the phrasing goes, but the ten minutes stand.
Juanito has his own tent, but whenever he is too lazy to put it up, he sleeps with me. When he has moved his stuff to his shopping cart, I tear my house down. I’m getting attached to this little piece of canvas. It shows the signs of the times, it gets wet from the bottom, and one of its bars had to be replaced in Patras, but it has held ever since Rome.
I close my bagpack, I attach the tent, it all fits. I leave an empty space when I lift my house onto my shoulders. I’m like a snail.
It’s ten o’ clock. Some people are still loading the shopping carts. Some tents are still standing. I’m not going to wait. I go.
Except for Mimo I’m the only one walking with full gear, ever since Salerno. Only for two days I walked with a shopping cart, when comrade Diego asked me to take his trolley to Agrinio. I didn’t like the experience. I prefer walking as a legionnaire.
Today is the longest leg of the march in Greece. We walk the thin grey line between the sea and the mountains. The rough coast of Focida. This territory is almost uninhabitable. There are no cultivations, there are only few small villages, and the rest is mountains and sea.
The views are marvellous. Like most of the time in Greece. This country is overwhelming in its beauty. It’s so much that you get saturated. You almost take the beauty for granted.
After three hours walking I eat lunch and take a siesta under an olive tree. At the end of the afternoon I enter Galaxidi.
First thing is to find the square. Usually it’s no problem. You go to the center of the center. And in the middle of it, you will plant your tent.
We are on the harbour side of Galaxidi. It’s a nice little town that hasn’t been completely destroyed by real estate speculation. The bars are full, tourism is important business here.
I build my tent. I go on reconnaisance, to feel the vibe, to look for a bar with wifi that can serve as communications headquarters for tonight.
I return to the camp. Everyone has arrived by now. I feel the pulse of the group. It’s still pretty slow. We are doing ok, but it’s like we are wading through the water these days. It takes a lot of energy to advance.
There is lack of news from our comrades in Athens, and even if voices reach us, they are not positive. It’s like we’re getting infected by the general sense of hopelesness here in Greece.
Galaxidi is a good example. If people don’t ignore us, they appreciate us, but they don’t bother to talk to us, or to take part in our assembly. Apparently they don’t see the point.
Only two of the locals finally sit down when we try to start an assembly. “Everyone minds his own business here,” one of them says.
The assembly becomes an informal chat. The two locals tell us about the problems. One of them is water. The tap water here is undrinkable. People have to buy their drinking water in plastic, because there is no connection to the fresh water aquaduct from the north.
It has been a problem since the 1940s. At every election, politicians promise that they will finally solve it, and they never do.
“Because this is Greece.”
After the assembly I go to look if the kitchen commission has prepared dinner. In Eratini comrade Chino had made a tasty dish of lentils. Tonight there is only sticky pasta with a bit of rosemary.
I don’t complain. I’ve had worse.
After dinner I walk off to the bar. We hardly ever fail to find a sympathetic place where the communications commission can plug in and work, even without the obligation to consume.
So I write my piece about today. Afterwards I walk around and go to sleep.
I love this march, and everyone who participates in it, I love this life. But sometimes, for me as for everybody else, it’s like I’m wading.