March to Athens
Day 177-CIII, from Ελευσίνα to Δάφνι, 14 km.
Day 178-CIV, Δαφνί.
Monastery of Dafni, May 3
In Eleusis three of our French comrades took control of the Route commission. I ceded them the maps, I gave them all requested clarifications, and I was actually relieved that it was out of my hands.
We had crossed the hills in two legs to be at Eleusis on the 30th, hoping that our comrades from Athens would be there, so that we could decide on our entry in assembly all together. They didn’t show up, and what’s more, some of them insulted one of our comrades.
‘If you touch one of us, you touch us all,’ is what we sing to police. And the same goes for anyone who betrays us. It left a scar on the march.
In this situation, with no first hand information to go on, one route or another doesn’t matter. It was going to be a surprise for everyone.
There were two important reasons for the junta to stage a coup. One was the desire to take a day off in nature before entering. We didn’t do so in the mountains, so this would be the last opportunity. The other reason was to counter certain ‘manipulations’ of the march by people who had accepted an invitation of the assembly of Peristeri to go there as our last stop, without discussing it in assembly.
The junta consists of comrades Nicolas, Mimo and Ollie, of which Ollie is one of the two persons who did the entire march from Nice. As far as I know they never made the route before.
Yesterday they would have guided us to a lake, or to a place on the coast where we could take a holiday. Nicolas and Mary departed as vanguard in the morning to localise the place. In the afternoon, the group would follow.
It became an infernal day. We marched along the highway under the hot sun to a rendez-vous spot without any shadow. All along the way we had to bear the stench of the refineries. No place here to camp in the green.
Comrade Max, one of the supposed ‘manipulators’, was enraged with the Route commission for not doing a good job, but it would have been hard anyway. They took control of the route at the most difficult moment. I wouldn’t have done a better job myself.
In the end, after frying for hours on the contaminated coast we decided to move inland to the Byzantine monastery of Dafni. We found a park, hills and fresh water. The place is in a gorge along the main artery leading into Athens, and it’s located exactly at the entrance of the metropolis. On the one side, there is nature, on the other side the first houses.
We put up camp, we start cooking and exploring the surroundings. It’s already dark when four jackals on motorbikes arrive. Police. They ask what we’re doing here. We’re camping, we come walking from France and we go to Athens.
They go, and fifteen minutes later they return with reinforcements. Four bikes, eight officers this time. They say it’s illegal to camp, we have to show id, and we have to go immediately.
We explain who we are, and that we have been camping all over Greece.
“This isn’t Greece. This is Athens. Things are different here. You must go, now.”
So we put up our little piece of theater. We call an assembly, and we start with lengthy translations into four different languages to speak about what to do and put their patience to the test. All the while some of us keep calmly discussing with the officers. Police make phone calls to head quarters, and they go.
The tension remained. They could have come back to arrest all of us, and here we don’t have the advantage of the square. No-one will see us. We have to know how to act.
I stand in the middle of camp with comrade Mimo.
Mimo has emerged as the strong man of the junta. He has his history of carjacking, violence and schizophrenic tendencies, but he has joined the revolution with all his inphantile enthusiasm and he was miraculously cured at Easter in the church of Eratini. At this crucial moment, to protect our principles of horizontality, Mimo has adopted the title of ‘supreme commander’ and the rank of field marshall.
Among all the other things, he has also done the military.
As we are waiting for the cops to return, he explains the situation to me.
“We have to retreat to the edge of the forest. We form a first line of strong people. With four or five of them we immobilise one of the flicks and we take his gun. Then we fire a shot in the air. The other cops will be running like rabbits to get reinforcements. At that point we take the hills. We will dominate the battlefield from above, and we will start a guerilla.”
“With one gun?”
“Gun? What gun? No, no, no. We are non violent. Taking the hills would be a strategic error. Look, there are two paths that connect the monastery to the road. When police arrive, we have to secure at least one of them. We would take the highway and block the entrance of all traffic into the city.”
Field Marshall Mimo is in charge of all the maps. To avoid any further manipulations, they are only accessible to the members of the junta. And even though I knew about these ‘manipulations’, Mimo has appointed me his ‘first councillor’ with the rank of general. My task is to advice him on our advance to the center of the city.
It’s going to be fun. But contrary to what I said before, we will not be alone. We don’t need the support of our former vanguard, we have the support of all the Greeks we met along the way. From Preveza, from Agrinio, from Misolonghi, from Patras, from Itea, from Thebes, from Kriekouki. They made us feel at home when we arrived, and after we left they have come to visit us when morale was low, they brought us gas when we couldn’t cook, they brought us food, drink and joy. I’m sure that many of them will come to meet us in Athens.
They are more than comrades, they are friends.