March to Athens
Day 130-LVI, from Ηγουμενίτσα to Πλαταριά, 13 km.
Plataria, March 16
It started on the boat. When I talked to the Dutch truck driver that we met in the lounge room I realised there must be something very wrong with this country, and not only with this one.
My trucker friend was about to deliver a cargo of Dutch goat milk to Greece.
Why on earth, I thought, would anyone want to transport goat milk to Greece? Greece is full of goats. They don’t know what to do with all their milk.
The trucker scratched himself behind his ear when I told him about my perplexity. “Indeed, it is a bit strange. I have to check it out.”
So here we are on Greek soil. Yesterday evening we held our first assembly. Up until now we hardly ever used the international language of English. All our communication has been in French, Spanish and Italian. Now for the first time we made a major switch. English and Greek. There was a group of local students present. One of them acted as translator.
The things they told us, and the things I heard from a local blogger made me think. It’s too much. We touched on the economic crisis as a whole, on the delapidation of health care and education, on the decline of Greek industry and agriculture, on the drug of debt, on the purchase of weapons paid for with foreign loans, on the fact that ten percent of the total population works for the state, on the sale of national resources and infrastructure, etc. I can’t make anything of it yet, but I hope I will be able to get a good picture of what is going on in Greece, and what has been going here for the last few decades, in the months to come.
One thing that people seem to agree on is that this economic crisis doesn’t fall from the sky. Greece is a test case, part of a greater scheme. If the banks get their way here, then they will get their way in Italy, Spain and Portugal as well.
On the other hand, if people revolt, and they succeed in re-establishing a real democracy, then the revolution might spread.
As comrade Max said in the assembly, “More than once, Greece has defeated the mightiest empire of the world. She can do it again.”
After the assembly, as promised, we were invited to enjoy a dish of typical Greek bean soup with sweet red wine in a local hotel. When we were done and in the mood, the manager pushed the tables aside and urged everyone to get up.
“Here in Greece, we dance!”
And so we did.
Today we took our time leaving Igoumenitsa. Without discussing it in assembly we have started to follow the route that I had more or less planned in Naples.
The first leg is a short one, around a cape to the modern village of Plataria. The place consists of a boulevard, a beach, and a line of bars and restaurants to go along with it. The signs are in English and German. I arrive there with the first few walkers. There is no-one out on the street. The sun is giving us a hot taste of spring.
When I watch the sparkling sea and the green coasts I don’t think twice, because otherwise I wouldn’t do it. I drop my bagpack, I strip down to my underwear and I run into the cold, cold water.