Day 147-LXXIII, from Αγρίνιο to Χρυσοβέργι, 21 km.
Chrisovergi, April 2
The assembly has decided, and the official blog of our march brings the big news. “We go to Patras!”
The question came up in Amfilochia. Our proposed route doesn’t include Patras, but we could take a little detour sacrificing our margin to cross the gulf and touch the town.
I had good fun preparing a large cardboard map to illustrate the situation, together with the possibility to pass by the island of Aetoliko in the middle of a lagoon, which would cost us another day of our four day margin.
In Amfilochia we postponed the question, and yesterday evening in Agrinio I moderated the assembly that would have to take the decision.
Now, I could turn this into some kind of triumphant Bulletin de la Grande Armée, and say how the March to Athens has unanimously decided to take the bridge, to march on Patras and to to occupy the square for two days and three nights. But that wouldn’t be exactly how it happened.
As a matter of fact, it was a messy assembly, and I didn’t do much to create order out of chaos. The lagoon option had been branded as ‘revolutionary tourism’ by some, while many others didn’t feel the need to go to Patras. I myself rather fancied the tourist option, and I wouldn’t mind to bypass Patras in order to save our days of margin for the mountains and the metropolitan area of Athens.
We divided the options into four. Island and Patras, either one or neither, and after that the options got blocked one after another. Finally I formulated the only proposal that hadn’t yet been blocked. “We don’t go to the island, we do go to Patras, we spend two whole days there, and we continue to Nafpaktos with two days of margin remaining.”
For lack of alternatives, people agreed. We go to Patras. But since we are going, we better make something of it.
I have to admit, my mind wasn’t completely present in the moderation of the assembly. I was nurturing greater mythological schemes. Since we still hadn’t got any Greeks in the march, I was planning to abduct a local princess and bring her along to Athens, and then to Troy. She was sitting right beside me in the assembly. She had brought me ice cream and taken me to the concert the day before. And she had proven to be unpredictable, a quality that I value very highly.
“I want to get out of this place,” she had said.
“Then come along with the march, and take your camera. This opportunity won’t pass again.”
“I want to come, but I can’t. I have school.”
This morning she changed the scheme. Instead of coming along, she wanted me to stay, at least for tonight.
Up until now, neither the rain nor the cold, nor the mountains, nor sickness, nor the distance have ever prevented me from walking. In all three marches in which I have participated I never skipped a single leg. But like Oscar Wilde would say, “I can resist anything, except temptation.”
This morning I got very close to seeing the march off and remaining in the square of Agrinio. But I didn’t. I’m stronger than I used to be.
“You have school, I have march. I can’t stay,” I told my princess, and she gave me the disappointed face of a spoiled girl. She finally kissed me goodbye and trotted off. Sweet little sixteen.
La marcha sigue, cueste lo que cueste. The march goes on, whatever the cost. And today I feel like I could just keep on going. There’s a ridge of mountains ahead of us at the southern end of the plain of Agrinio. We cross through a narrow gorge. It’s like a giant vulva, excavated for millions of years by an ancient river that is no more.
The gorge is a gateway. On the other side, once again, there is the sea.