Bordeaux, August 26
Day 32 of the March on Brussels. From Leagnon, 20 km.
Wet weather is becoming an increasing menace. This morning for the first time we woke up and found it was raining. It was late, yet again, when we woke up. After we had breakfast in the barn, the rain still hadn’t stopped. It meant that the tourists and the sunday walkers would definitely wait for transport on four wheels to Bordeaux. Still, we left with a significant group of walkers and we did the walk together, cheerfully.
The Gendarmerie escorted us for the first part, through the vineyards. They had come to our camping site in the morning to inform us. Like the Guardia Civil in Spain, they are friendly and helpful.
The wet weather came and went today. Sun and rain and wind and clouds all substituted one and other, often in a matter of minutes, giving us hardly the time to adapt our outfit.
When we arrived in Bordeaux we found the police well prepared, nervous, and a little scared as well. We were escorted by two vans, one car and three motorcycles, not counting the undercover officers. It was a bit exagerated. Our group was small, but loud. We sang our slogans in French and Spanish, even though strangely there wasn’t a single Frenchman among us when we reached Place de la Victoire.
They were all in the square, though not very numerous. After Bayonne and Dax I stopped expecting anything from the cities here in France, so it wasn’t a surprise to me. Many of the people who received us were middle aged and elderly lefties. There were maybe a dozen people from the indignés Bordeaux.
The nicest thing of the welcoming ceremony in Bordeaux was the French cheese and the wine. After that we all went together, French and Spanish, to have a little manifestation through the center of the city.
It was happy and colourful. The tourists and the locals looked on curiously from the terraces as the rain gave us a break. Only the police looked worried. Counting all the vehicles in the side streets I think there were more police officers on duty than indignados protesting. They sealed off the city hall with a cordon of officers with riot gear at hand, as if they expected that we were going to storm the place. Instead, we sat down, and we raised our hands. “These are our arms! These are our arms!”
They walked along with us all the way, in uniform, and in civilian outfit, talking nervously into their walkie talkies. Only when the protest ended in the Place de San Michel they left us alone to eat lunch.
Place San Michel is the place at the heart of the old working class neighbourhood in the center of the city where the indignados from Bordeaux tried to start an acampada in late May. The police moved in immediately, there was a small battle, and the square had to be abbandoned. The French government has quelled the indignado movement right at the beginning. If it had been able to create lasting acampadas, the movement could have gone up to another level. But for now, it was the end of it. There are not many active indignados left in Bordeaux. Not for the moment. It could be they are on holiday.
After lunch it started to rain again, and the gathering dispersed. People retreated to the camping site along the Garonne or into the little pubs around the square.
We made it up to Bordeaux, dear friends, and we will go on. But we have no idea of how and what, or even where. The only sure thing is that the next big city will be Poitiers and we should get there in little over a week. We don’t have a fixed route yet, but rumours say it’s going to be hell. The distances will be longer and longer. And as for the weather, we really have been lucky so far. But looking up at the dark clouds floating over the clock towers of Bordeaux, I realise that we could soon be out of luck.