Day 154-LXXX, Πάτρα.
Day 155-LXXXI, from Πάτρα to Ναύπακτος, 22 km.
Nafpaktos, April 10
Nobody here would deny that our visit to Patras has become a complete fiasco. And even it wasn’t, it surely wasn’t worth sacrificing two days of margin.
Grey Dutch skies and persistent rains disrupted most of our stay, but even without it we wouldn’t have been able to create a vibe here.
The fact that police never showed up simply meant that they didn’t care. Also the communists, who had organised a concert at fifty metres from our camp, ignored us completely. Here in the big city it seems that many of the locals regard us as a band of hippie gipsies. They say we have no idea of what the hell is going on in Greece. They have already tried this peaceful resistance thing last year. The square was taken. But it didn’t work.
“This is a war. We didn’t start it. But if we want to win, we have to fight. Your love-peace-and-harmony train is very amusing, but it won’t lead to nothing.”
We held a small assembly hiding from the rain under the gallery around the square, and that was it. The second day we were completely flooded, and we retreated to a semi-covered area on the edge. Only comrade Lorenzo heroically resisted.
In terms of numbers, Patras was a massacre. We left eleven people on the ground. The highest amount of casualties we have suffered since we left Rome.
But numbers don’t always tell the truth. Three of the people who left had rejoined us here and weren’t keen on walking. Other three were the Greeks from Mesolonghi, who would have returned anyway. Then there was comrade Manuel and company. Four more, straight to Athens.
Morale wasn’t high in the group after all this. And as to express the spirit of defeatism, there has been a feeble attempt of rebellion against my route proposal.
I knew it was going to happen. Once we crossed the bridge to the Peloponnese it would be very tempting for some to stay on this side, and to go from here, along the coast all the way to Athens without natural obstacles worth to mention.
Usually I’m fine with almost everything that the assembly decides on tactical or organisational issues. But there are two strategical decisions that I had wanted to make sure from the start. One was the arrival in Igoumenitsa instead of Patras, and two was the adoption of the northern route that passes by Delphi and Thebes.
I had presented the route proposal to back up my exuberant Altamura speech in favour of Igoumenitsa. And even though the route itself was never officialy consensuated, it was more or less implicitly accepted as part of the Igoumenitsa option.
All along the way, the Greeks who have inquiered into our proposed route had been surprised of the answer. They warned us that it was a hard and difficult road. They advised us to take the Peloponnese route. “Much easier.”
You have to know that I can’t stand ‘easy’ as a reason to do something. And every time the Greeks said we should go by the southern road, I was more and more convinced I wanted to follow the one less travelled by.
Patras was the only chance to go the Peloponnese way. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when the conspirators acted on the night before we left.
You can rest assured, dear friends, the attempt to change the route has miserably failed. It was badly prepared and clumsily executed. It was supported by three people who aren’t really known as dedicated marchers. They didn’t present an alternative itinerary and their only real motivation was to avoid the mountains.
My northern route proposal is indeed considerably longer, it passes by tiny villages where we could lack food supplies and it includes two ridges of mountains to cross. But nonetheless, and mostly because it was carefully planned, it could count on wide range support.
I didn’t even have to defend the proposal personally in the assembly. Instead, much to the delight of the Greeks, I limited myself to telling the story of young Hercules…
One day, while walking through the woods, young Hercules came to a crossroads.
At the crossroads there was a goddess. And the goddess said: “Hercules, this is your choice in life.”
She pointed to a wide road that gently sloped through abbundant olive groves and cornfields, down to a lovely bay, rich with fish. “This is the easy road. It will lead you to wealth, love, and happiness.”
Then she pointed to a small rocky trail that steeply ascended the mountains and disappeared high up in the clouds. “This is the hard road. It leads to pain, fatigue and despair…
“But,” she added, “this is the road that leads to glory.”
We all remember the name of Hercules, so we all know what road he took.