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Vans, plans and solidarity

12 December 2009

It’s day 7 and we’ve completed the first leg of our journey to Gaza.

We’ve made it through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and Italy, successfully loaded all vehicles onto the overnight ferry at Ancona and off again at Igoumenitsa, crossed the Alps and the northern Greek mountains and are now approaching Thessaloniki, where a warm welcome, the town’s mayor and a sports stadium await us.

And this time, we get to sleep INSIDE the stadium (as opposed to camping in the car park, as we have til now), with toilets, showers, a hot meal and suchlike convivial comforts.

Things we have learned so far

1. No plan survives first contact with the convoy. Expect the worst. Triple all time estimates.

2. A convoy is only as fast as its slowest vehicle. Up a big hill. In the rain.

3. CB radio turns grown men into little boys.

4. Camping is probably more fun in the summer.

5. People with pop-up tents are losing out on valuable character-building experience. This may explain their misplaced smugness.

6. There is such a thing as TOO clean (see crazy self-cleaning German toilet seats).

7. Sleep is a waste of time when there are interesting people to talk to.

8. Sleep deprivation makes you first tired, then cross, then manic/slightly hysterical, and finally zen.

9. A tidy minibus in the morning is a skip on wheels by teatime.

10. Carrying aid is highly inconvenient when travelling on an aid convoy.

11. Having off-loaded lots of aid onto more spacious, powerful vehicles in order to make it through the mountains, we now seem to be on a mission to deliver four pointless old tarts to Gaza. Not sure that’s quite what they’re hoping for.

11. Food tastes much better when handed to you by a friendly stranger on a cold, dark night.

12. Chocolate pudding is not to be resisted, especially after a week of camp-stove mealy-meal.

13. Solidarity rocks (inquilab zindabad).

14. In the brotherhood/sorority of (wo)mankind, the things that unite us are far more numerous and significant than the things that divide us.

Regular updates on Twitter

A few pics – lots more coming very soon

More info and pics on the Swansea Palestine blog

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