Through the Lagoon

In Greece, March to Athens on 3 April 2012 at 20:28

March to Athens

Day 148-LXXIV, from Χρυσοβέργι to Μεσολόγγι, 18 km.

Dusk over the lagoon of Mesolonghi

Mesolonghi, April 3

Dear people,

Our tribe is like a family. And like in any other family there are times when we argue among each other. Yesterday’s argument was particularly nasty.

We received a warm welcome in the little village of Chrisovergi. People cheered when we arrived. They brought us food and lots of wine. In the bar on the square anyone who entered got offered beer and tsipouro.

It was too much for some of us. There was already malcontent in the group, and late at night things went completely out of control.

I’m not going to tell you what the argument was about, because it doesn’t matter. It was Lord Alcohol who sparked the pandemonium. It was the first time he showed his evil face since we had camped in Pagani, two days marching from Naples, and like custom he had brought Lady Violence along with him.

I had been doing my things, and I hadn’t noticed how the situation developed. But I was angry with everyone when it went down at two o’ clock in the morning. Angry, because of the horrible image we were leaving as a march in this hospitable little village. But most of all I was angry because people made me regret that I had come along with the march.

I could have spent my night in the arms of a gorgeous school girl, and here I was, listening to my tribal brothers and sisters barking at each other like dogs. The locals had to intervene to get people to calm down. It was disgusting.

This morning I left the square before anybody else. I didn’t want to participate in the hangover assembly that would have to heal the wounds before we marched on.

The alcohol problem is occasional, not structural, so I’m not really worried about it. Maybe we just need to satisfy our violent impulse every now and then.

The Old Man, who was one of the protagonists of the fight, believed it was a result of people being dissatisfied with the decision of the assembly to go to Patras for two days, which had been nobody’s first choice.

If that is so, then I bear my piece of responsibility. I should have done a better job, or I shouldn’t have moderated the assembly at all.

However it be, I walk on, I follow my destiny. After the gorge there is the lagoon. The lagoon is like a womb. In the middle there is the little village of Aetoliko on an island. The island is like an ovum.

There are no traces of tourism here. Instead of clubs and lounges, there are shabby houses, little shops, and mosquitoes. I take a long siesta on the waterside, and then I take the ovary dike through the lagoon to Mesolonghi.

For miles and miles I walk in the midst of the waters. The wind rises, and then the rains come down. There is no escape, the water is on all sides, and the dike is interrupted. I have to turn back.

I reach the island again. And on the outskirts I spot the first traces of misery since I arrived in Greece. Patches of slums on the waterside. Houses built with pallets, covered by corrugated iron and isolated with plastic. It’s not much, but it’s there.
I keep on walking, and by contrast, miles down the road, I reach the ‘sacred town of Mesolonghi’. Truly, this town has reasons to be famous. And sooner rather than later, I will tell you why.

Slums on the outskirts of Aetoliko


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