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Country Roads

In France, March on Brussels on 20 August 2011 at 18:44

Dax, August 20

Day 26 of the March on Brussels. From St. Vincent, 25 km.

Dear people,

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

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