Tobacco Country

In Greece, March to Athens on 30 March 2012 at 16:40
March to Athens

Day 143-LXIX, from Αμφιλοχία to Ρίβιο, 15 km.

Day 144-LXX, from Ρίβιο to Στράτος, 15 km.

Stratos, March 30

Dear people,

The other day in Amfilochia we held our first serious assembly since our arrival in Igoumenitsa. We have been rejoined by a Spanish comrade who speaks good Greek. And aside from him there were a few locals who spoke either good English or Spanish, so it was more than enough to create a connection.

The presence at the assembly was a perfect split of the Greek population. Old folks, young folks, a mother with a baby. There was also a group of high school students present. They sat out the entire two hour assembly. They didn’t say much, but they listened very carefully.

Popular Assembly in Amphilochia

As usual, the greater part of the assembly was about general issues. Local initiative versus centralised government. Civil disobedience. Power to the people.

In the end we asked questions to the people of Amfilochia. About the local situation, about organised resistance. And if they knew anything about the movement of the indignados.

They did. And indeed, last year people have tried to stage protests and organise assemblies in this town, but very few people attended.

One of the locals gave his personal opinion on the matter. He said that people are very much engaged in protest, but they are not used to start thinking from scrap. They have grown up with the idea that politics belongs to the parties and the unions, not to the people, and it’s hard to change that mentality. They don’t participate in popular assemblies, but when the parties or the unions organise strikes and demonstrations, they don’t hesitate to take part in it. And they even go to the big cities, Agrinio or Athens to do so.

He concluded that this is probably a typical provincial mentality, and that things in places like Patras or Athens are different. But from what I heard, also the people in the big cities are still very much linked to old ways of thinking.


Amvrakía Lake

Yesterday we marched straight south to the little town of Rivio, and we almost missed it. It consists of three gas stations along the national road, of which two are permanently closed, a couple of houses and a monstrous concrete structure which allows pedestrians and wheelchairs to cross the quiet road.

 There is no mafia in Greece, so they say, but corruption is rooted deep in the system.

 In the absence of a square we planned to camp on the side of the lake, but we were invited by a locals to spend the night in a covered space of their family home. It was really touching. They didn’t have much, but they insisted on bringing us what they could offer, mostly their hospitality.

Today we were woken up by comrade Cansino, a veteran of various marches, who joined us here together with comrade Manuel from audiovisuals Madrid, and comrade Gigì from Belgium. They had been bussing, walking and hitchhiking for three days through Greece to reach us.

We march east again, into the plains, to the horrid little village of Stratos, which used to be the ancient capital of Akarnania. It’s one of very few plains in Greece, it has a river, and so it used for intensive agriculture. Olives and tobacco mostly.

Town hall of Stratos

 This part of Greece is definitely hidden away from the eyes of foreigners. You won’t find hotels or campings here, just lurid sheds and modern houses along the road. This region is centered around the city of Agrinio where we’ll arrive tomorrow. Some of us have already gone ahead to check out the situation, because Agrinio has about one hundred thousand inhabitants. It is by far the biggest town on our route so far.


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