March to Athens
Day 150-LXXVI, from Μεσολόγγι to Άνο Βασσιλική, 19 km.
Day 151-LXXVII, from Άνο Βασσιλική to Αντίρριο, 18 km.
Antirio, April 6
We were accompanied by a Greek comrade from Agrinio to Mesolonghi, and in Mesolonghi we were joined by a Greek cavalry division on bicycles. They are four, and they will be with us until Patras.
Yesterday we moved straight east again. And apart from one little detour, we will continue in this direction along the northern shore of the gulf that divides the Peloponnese peninsula from mainland Greece.
Even though I kept my distance from all that has happened in the group these days I could hardly fail to notice that the dynamics have changed. After the fight in Chrisovergi, the Old Man has lost much of his prestige. It was his own fault. He had been drunk, and he hadn’t respected neither the people of the village, nor his comrades.
He was targeted from various sides, both Spanish and French. One of us described the events as ‘the fall of the old lion king’.
The hangover assembly had brought peace in the group. And yesterday we moved on to the tiny village of Ano Vassiliki. There were three houses, a basketball court and a church with cementery on the hill.
We arrive late, because the rain had delayed our departure. It’s almost dark when we decide to occupy the church yard and camp next to the cemetery. It’s a formidable stronghold. From here we control the road, a very important road, because it connects one part of the world to another.
The peace flag is already waving from our fortress for hours when the last marchers arrive late in the evening. Behind the church, a fire is lit for cooking. In the dim light of the lanterns the smoke columns waft over the cemetery where one of us is sitting against a pine tree, softly playing the guitar.
I have a hard time listening to people and their theories lately, but I love to absorb this atmosphere. I love this time and place. I decide to take a walk through the olive groves. There’s a full moon up above. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
Today we swirl on along the jagged national road, high above the sea. On the other side we can see Patras already, under a ridge of mountains where the last snow is melting away. Down in the valley at the istmus we spot the impressive bridge that crosses the gulf. We will take that bridge, and after a two day stop in Patras, we will come back to take the road to Delphi.
For now, we camp in the little village of Antirio on the church square. Police would like us to camp elsewhere, but we have our Greeks with us to do the talking. A black dressed cleric comes out of the church to join the conversation.
Minutes later, the bells toll, as a sign of welcome for the March to Athens.