When we left this morning at 5:30am from Arroyo de Arena, someone in the 600 strong crowd remarked, “At this pace, we are going to arrive in Cartagena at the same time that it takes to lick two block of panela.” This means a long time, basically the coastal equivalent of slow as molasses in January.
However, despite the desire to move faster we maintained a steady pace and still managed to arrive at our night´s stopping place by 12:30, hours ahead of schedule. People are excited and committed and it is a joy to walk alongside of them.
Everyone is organized and dedicated to doing their part, including cooking, cleaning, loading the truck, or playing the accordion in the afternoon. And, instead of inciting riots all the way, as the government feared, we have been welcomed, with people along the way gifting us with water and warm words.
Before the march started, there was a lot of fear about not having any food. Many organizations, both governmental and non, had made grand promises, but there was no follow up, except by Sembrandopaz, which has been supporting the march from the beginning. However, as the people left their communities in groups of 10-15, they brought sacks and sacks of their own agricultural products with them to the meeting place of Arroyo de Arena last night. It is truly a community led and supported march. A farmer even donated a cow! In total, we have more than enough food to walk all the way to Cartagena!
This is a great relief to the leaders, because they are facing a lot of pressure from the governor of Bolivar to end the march early. In fact, the government is trying to set up a working group for tomorrow in San Jacinto. It is a difficult decision, because the goal of the march is to have a working group and productive dialogue. But, the governor has not proven trustworthy in the past and the leaders know that he may simply be giving empty promises to try to stop the march and the attention it is gathering about regional problems every day it continues. Therefore, the communities have reached a decision. They will participate tomorrow, but only if the governor AND all of the different institutions and people the leaders deem key figures to participate arrive by 10 am tomorrow morning. If not, Cartagena here we come!