This morning the lowlands were covered by a sky in all the different shades of grey. A strong wind was blowing, and while we were having breakfast, the rain started.
It felt good. The rain and the wind are as a much a part of this country as the canals and the dikes. It fits. And besides, we have been too lucky already with the weather. A bit of rain is always good for the epical aspect of our expedition.
It didn’t last long. While we walk over the bicycle lane of the national road to Gent, the wet weather ceases. From then on the walk is easy.
Belgium has lots of peculiarities. One of these is the urbanisation of the roads. When we arrive in Gent it seems like we never left Waregem. We didn’t really cross the countryside. All along the way there were houses, villages or shopping centers.
Through the years Belgians have kept up the tradition of building their own house. And up until not so long ago they could legally do so wherever they bought a piece of land. And because most people for convenience’s sake want to be close to a road, this resulted in an endless variety of houses lining the national roads, from one village or town to another. It might seem that most of Belgium is one big city, but that’s an illusion. The country side starts in people’s back yards.
Along the way I talk a bit with comrade Rino, from Italy, who has been with us before on various occasions. After Paris he has joined the Mediterranean for a while, and I was happy to hear positive news about them for the first time.
They called themselves ‘Ecomarche’ when they left Paris, because they wanted to give an example of an expedition without a carbon footprint. They went without support vehicle and carried their bags on their shoulders. That was the beginning, later on they were joined by a support vehicle all the same, so to uphold their ecological image they started gathering the trash they found along the road. Some of the many, many bags they filled were piled up on the squares of the villages and towns where they arrived, to confront people with everything they just throw out of the window.
Rino denied that Lady Blue is a dictator and that the marchers wouldn’t reach Brussels without her. She’s with the vanguard, she prepares the arrival and coordinates the diffusion in the towns. The others contribute to the march in their own way and sharpen their objectives with the feedback of the assemblies they hold in the towns. If it’s all true I would have to admit, shamefully, that their march is working out better than our own at the moment.
We enter the lively town of Gent and we occupy the impressive square of Saint Peter. All day long we have been followed by a Flemish television crew. They have the occasion to film our first trilingual assembly. Dutch, French and Spanish. The indignados from Gent have been very active in preparing it, they have been waiting for us and they received us with cakes and sweets and lots of food. Some of them were already present at the border and at Kortrijk. It was a great occasion, but before too long it was sabotaged by a band of anarchist squatters. They came with drums and a whistle. A brilliant move.
As the samba rhythm echoes over the square, our bagpipe player joins in and people start to dance and jump around. Finally, after all the endless assemblies in Spain and France we had to come here to the cold and windy lowlands to find the one fundamental and indispensable ingredient of the revolution.