Day 86-XII, from Gaeta to Minturno, 19 km.
Minturno, February 1
Yesterday evening the internal assembly completely spinned out of control. Some people came dangerously close to the treshold of violence. When it happened we were housed in a sportscomplex offered by the local authorities and we were lucky that most of the scene was absorbed by the sound of the waves. We didn’t offer a good example. This morning five comrades were left behind on the battleground of Gaeta. And with them, the camper.
The crisis had been making way underground ever since we left Rome. One among us, the flute player, has a personal conflict with comrade Manuel, who has supported the march in his camper since Siena, aside from doing Audiovisuals.
The flute player founded the working group ‘Vehicle independence’ and started fomenting conflict and spreading rumours. Yesterday evening he picked a fight with whoever. He was drunk, he was swearing and screaming. The majority of us avoided that the situation got out of hand. But this morning Manuel decided to go. He is fed up with it.
So we are left without a support vehicle and without audiovisual covering. And what’s more, winter has finally arrived. Thus far the days have been mild and sunny. Now it’s cold and raining. The hills are covered with snow. Morale wasn’t that high already, so when the going gets real tough, the tough take the bus.
The assembly had decided in Sermoneta to do only fifteen to twenty kilometres per day, with a clear preference for fifteen over twenty. But still, even before the weather changed, it wasn’t exceptional for some people to go by bus.
We are maybe a dozen people walking. We face thunder and lightning and hail storms and once in a while we are encouraged by a lonely ray of sun.
We’re soaked when we arrive, and we are lucky enough to have a roof over our head tonight. But I’m not sure to whom we owe this pleasure.
Ambiguity in the South is part of the culture. It seems as though there exist different layers of reality in these places. Only if you are born here, you can understand the signs and the unwritten rules. Otherwise, you can only guess.
This morning a car pulls up alongside me. A man steps out. Usually it’s the authorities in uniform who want to know who we are and where we’re going. Not here. He is in his 40s, dressed neither casual, nor elegant. He asks if we had a good night rest at the sports facility. He informs how many we are and where we’re headed.
We’re going to Minturno.
“You can’t go there. I am the mayor of Minturno.”
He isn’t serious. But he says that the town square is maybe not the perfect place to spend the night. He’ll see what he can do.
Immediately upon our arrival in the pouring rain we had access to a former school building, and within half an hour a representative of the police brought dinner for forty. First dish, second dish, side dish, dessert and hot tea.
It makes me think, also with respect to the fire cracker episode of the night before, and the man with the Kalashnikov. Maybe they have nothing do with each other, and maybe it’s nothing more than wild speculation to think there is some kind of meaning behind it all. Or maybe not, there’s no way to know.
We are no threat to no-one for the moment. In the end, all we do is talk, talk, talk. But here in the South of Italy there exists something called omertà. It means you keep silent, whatever you see or hear. And in such a place, simply talking about certain things becomes a revolutionary act.
So first thing, we were warned. ‘This is our territory. Don’t think you can hold your assemblies and talk about us in public. You are under surveillance. But since you are here, and since we have a long tradition of hospitality towards foreigners, we will make sure that your stay will be as comfortable as possible.’