Posted by CODEPINK Staff
Just arrived in Athens tonight. We had an orientation meeting at 8pm at our hotel. It was so exciting to be in a room with such terrific people. Some are amazing support people who are helping to pull everything together; others are the passengers who have all made a commitment to take this risk. We went around the room saying how we felt. Scared. Excited. Honored. Energized (me). Hopeful. Col. Ann Wright gave us a political orientation, including some of the pressure that has been put on the Turkish and Greek governments by the Israelis, and about the difficult situation Greece is going through financially (and how that makes Greece more vulnerable to pressure).
After the meeting, some of us when down to Syntagma (Constitution) Square, where the protests have been going on for weeks now against austerity measures the government is trying to impose. There were thousands and thousands of people there. They were jeering at the legislative building (and went wild with scorn whenever they would spot someone inside). Their signs said things like Bread, Education and Freedom, and We Don't Owe Anyone Anything; We won't pay anyone anything. Compared to Tahrir Square, it was a very peaceful, almost fair-like atmosphere--with food stands, Greek flags for sale. Unlike Egypt, there were almost NO police; like Egypt, people had set up tents and were camping out. It made me wonder, as I so often do, what it will take to get folks mobilized in the US!!!
Tomorrow we will see our boat, The Audacity of Hope, and start our training session--media training, non-violence training, etc. I look forward to getting to know the group (we are 36 passengers, 4 crew and 10 media) but it's already starting to feel like an extended family.