March to Athens
Day 141-LXVII, from Δρυμός to Αμφιλοχία, 20 km.
Day 142-LXVIII, Αμφιλοχία.
Amfilochia, March 28
I never thought that one day I would have the privilege to see the famous town of Amfilochia. But here we are. Now, don’t ask me why this town is so famous, because I don’t know. It just is.
Three days it took us to board the southern shore of the internal sea. It was a memorable walk up until the very last.
Amfilochia is built against the hills at the tip of a narrow bay, hidden away at the far end of the gulf. It’s one of those places that gives you a good feeling straight away.
Along the boulevard the bars are interspersed with old houses in ruin. Life is slow and unpretending. The outside world seems far away. During the season there must be some low key tourism along the waterside, mainly from Greece itself, but the place is all but hip. In fact, the whole town breathes a kind of nostalgic 1980s atmosphere.
So far we haven’t found any traces of ancient Greece yet, but the Ambratian Gulf used to be of strategic importance during the glory days of the Greek city states. It provided a perfect harbour on the Ionian sea, it gave access to Italy and the West. The territory was originally settled by Corinth, but it soon came under the influence of marittime superpower Athens.
After the Peloponnesian War it passed to terrestrial superpower Sparta, for as long as it lasted. When the age of the Greek city states came to an end, the Ambracian Gulf became a quiet backwater of history. And everything seems to indicate that it has remained so ever since. It’s probably the reason why it’s such a marvellous place.
We arrived in Amfilochia with six people less than when we left Preveza. Two Frenchmen, three Spaniards and one Italian have turned back or wandered off in different directions. They might return later on, and in the meantime we are expecting other veterans of the march to rejoin us here.
So our numbers will keep floating around twenty. And in general we don’t regard that as a bad thing, given the territory we will have to cross. A little further down the road there will only be very small villages for days in a row, and so our rations could suffer, especially when we are many.
Here in Amfilochia the food doesn’t lack at all. People are most generous, but for some strange reason it still leads to trouble, now and then.
This morning I got woken up by a loud discussion about coffee and sugar, while there was a wide breakfast buffet ready on one of the benches in the square. Bread, feta, olives, oranges, juices, etc.
Comrade Chino described it concisely. “Little food is a problem. A lot of food is an ever bigger problem.”