last night, after supper, sitting, working in the common room, and talking about canadian mining companies in the congo a belgian friend from the hotel walks in and we all start talking about écosociété's "noir canada".. it's really extraordinary to be in a space where these issues can be discussed night or day, and where they work better than small talk to meet and befriend strangers.
a fellow uni-alter-er told us about his experience at aldea do paz, "peace camp", one of the forum's camping sites. this is a special one, an intentional community with 200+ campers, where cooking is a collective ordeal, where they work together, meet and reunion thrice daily. it's really interesting to see that the forum can be so many different experiences to so many different people. even within our own student delegation : those who are here for the experience of the youth camp -- taking part in activities with folks who are all here for different reasons, wearing different colours, supporting different causes, those at aldea do paz, and those of us staying in the hammock hostel -- wanting to try to make the most of the workshops and presentations by getting more sleep in.
and the march!
first, amidst the crowds of thousands (sixty thousand? eighty thousand?) who should run up to hug me but le fabuleux ben powless!! now that's something.
there were so many banners, balloons, colours and causes.. people walking with small trees, with placards, with children, with drums, with fists in the air, with smiles, with magic dancing in their souls, with fire. if you're someone who, like me, can get teary-eyes and so soulfully energized by a fabulous earth day celebration on parliament hill or a "coalition yes!" rally in beautiful halifax, this is the stuff of dreams.
slowly, it begins. the uni-alter crew meets near the greenpeace boat, and it starts, but not before the torrential mid-day rains. oh how it poured.. those who can, march under banners and flags. we make our way under a colourful "solidaridad" banner where it still pours.. with hundreds under this banner we play "drapeau" (or at least this is what we called it in french elementary schools in ottawa) making the banner fly up and down while we make our way through belem's streets.. stopping to wring out skirts and shirts and whatever else. multilingual chants and songs.. banners, placards and flags for indigenous struggles, for food sovereignty, for women's rights, for all things anti-capitalist and alter-globalisation, for palestine, for the natural world, for solidarity.. oh la la ! more than a bilingual petite canadienne can take in !
after four hours of walking and dancing, we rally our troops as we can and stop for fruit and nuts and whatever other street food the vendors will offer us.
when night falls, a group of us decide to go grab some food, making the hard decision to leave the march.. a good ending to such a busy day. a quieter night, just over a handful of us. lovely to get the opportunity to debrief our experience, to sit, to fill our bellies, and to speak français.. talking about our research interests, learning languages and why we're here.. for me, who's unsure as to what to take on, what to do with myself being fresh out of grad school, it's really something to have this opportunity to talk with such engaged academics, to meet folks working in so many different ways for social justice.. i am happy.
it's good though to get on the bus going to verro peso, the market, and to walk back to hotel fortaleza.. to look at the program for the next day, decide what we want to attend, chat with folks also figuring out logistics for the next day and then retreat to our hammocks. slep comes easy.
tomorrow, the forum begins.
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