Segovia, July 17
For the first time in almost two months I have left Madrid. Together with comrades Jim and Nacho we drove up to the old city of Segovia to witness the arrival of the Northern Column, the one from the Basque country. I took some pictures.
It feels great to be out of Madrid for a while. You can smell the air of the pine trees in the mountains, you can finally see the horizon. And you can also see the devastating impact of the Spanish building fury on the landscape.
We cross the Sierra de Guadarama and descend on Segovia. The city is famous for its Roman aquaduct. I remember a photo from an old Italian schoolbook with a sheperd and his herd walking underneath. It’s absolutely stunning. When I look at it, I don’t understand how it can stay up, let alone for two thousand years, without cement. I have seen Roman buildings and ruins all over Italy and in Rome itself, but I don’t remember ever being as impressed by a feat of engineering as I was here, today. But then again, putting things into perspective, I can imagine that people loathed it back then, just like we would hate to see an elevated highway running through a city.
Another good thing of being out of Madrid is getting in touch with the movement in the province. There’s a small 15M information point right next to the tourist office on the central square. The funny thing is the little differences. The slogans, the logos, the manifestos. They all express the same feelings, but every city, every acampada has developed its own style.
We meet a marcher on reconaissance. He announces that the column is near, only five kilometres from here. We check our batteries and our memory cards, so as to be able to document the event, and we go ahead to meet them. It’s July 17 2011, the Northern Column arrives at Segovia.
We hear them before we can see them. It’s the sound of drums and chanting. An emotional moment. Up to now for me the marches had been coloured lines on a map of Spain. But today, finally, I can feel the vibration of the tambourines. I can see the Basque flags appearing and the people dancing down the road behind a huge yellow banner.
Panoramically, the arrival under the Aquaduct is priceless. I’m happy we came to witness this, I’m happy to see the smiles of the these people, and to feel their strength. This is history on the march.
The marchers put up their camp in the municipal sports center, they take a shower and hold an internal assembly. When it’s finished, people hurry down along the aquaduct to the central square for another assembly, this time in public.
People explain what the 15M means to them. They talk about the marches, about the people they encountered in the villages. “Many of the elderly that we came across were very sympathetic to our cause. The only thing they feared is that this movement will be short lived. Well, I’ll tell you, they don’t have to worry. This movement is slow, but it will go on, and it will go a long way.”
Popular participation in Segovia is minimal. People in this well-to-do little town prefer to walk up and down the street in scenes from the Belle Epoque. But that doesn’t prevent comrade Jim to immortalise the assembly. Not in photo, not in video and neither with words, but with paint…