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Tessa shares her experience being on the road with The People's Pilgrimage for Climate Justice in Italy.back to listing
by Tessa Tennant,
Last week, I was on the road with Yeb Saño and his terrific fellow pilgrims, some 500kms on from Rome and 1000km to go until Paris. I wanted to support the team and their People's Pilgrimage walk for climate justice and to understand better the experience of walking some 25kms a day — day in, day out.
They are set to reach Paris by 27th November, in time for the start of the COP21 climate meeting.
From the cars and lorries whizzing by honking their horns in friendly cheer to the train crowded with rush hour commuters as I passed through Milan on my way home to the UK, I was struck again and again by the walk being so out of the ordinary. Truly, it takes a rare commitment to spend so long away from loved ones and everyday comforts and commitments. It’s also hard on the bones to walk distance on road surfaces. I was in agony at several points, and it was a relief when we found ourselves on the gentler, calmer cycle routes and ancient pilgrimage paths.
The People's Pilgrimage on a busy road in Italy. Photo: Tessa TennantIt takes nerves to walk long stretches along major highways, with lorries thundering by so close you could touch them if you stretched your arm out. This is the reality of the modern pilgrim, no longer pure Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, although the characters are still as lively and riveting. There is an element of timelessness too — the extraordinary generosity of host communities providing food and overnight stay. Such kindness fuels the good spirits of the group as does the singing, silence, and the sharing of personal stories.