It’s May, it’s hot, and we’re going to Portugal next week to meet my Mum. It’s already been a year since her last visit.
Commitments and responsibilities increase with chickens and seedlings, but without a correlating decrease in time away from home.
Last month we spent three days in Madrid, joining the start of the Extinction Rebellion protests on April 15th.
Nik knew more about the movement than me, so I needed to do some reading and listening to understand more about it. Initially I felt hesitant to go, thinking that abandoning our garden, chickens and generally “eco-friendly” way of life in favour of travelling 450km to a city was counter intuitive to the values of the movement.
However, there wasn’t an established protest plan in Asturias and we did want to show our support by contributing to the number of people speaking out. We also reasoned that it’s a true priviledge to be able to take an impromptu hiatus from life without fear of losing a job or really putting much at risk. It was the Easter holidays, but not everyone would have the ability to up and leave at short notice, despite how much they may want to be there. I pictured myself working somewhere else and the pang of wanting to get involved but not feeling able to was what pushed me to be on board. It is a subject which affects everyone: you attend the protest on the planet’s behalf.
In order to minimize fuel emissions (and, let’s be honest, save money), we took a blablacar from Oviedo. Our driver, Diego was super friendly and accommodating, and very tolerant of our regular service station needs. We gifted him our second ever egg.
We then met up with a friend who we met on the Permaculture Design Course last autumn, who took us to an Asturian sidrería, in Madrid! It was only about thrice the price of here.
Another lovely friend who I met on Vipassana opened her home for us to stay indefinitely whilst the protest went on. A beautiful, art-filled madrileño flat.
The protest took place outside of the main entrance to Repsol’s headquarters. Repsol are
one of the biggest fossil fuel producers in Spain, and the organisers thought this a good way to draw attention to the values of Extinction Rebellion.
The plan was not to ask Repsol to do anything directly, just simply to draw attention to the XR movement in Spain, which at that point was still relatively small compared to the thousand-strong force in London. We were just 50 people that day.
Since then it has gotten bigger, showing the success of the blockade that day. As well as blocking the car entrance to the building, banners were held, songs sung, and flyers handed out to those willing to roll down their windows. Titled “perdonen las molestias” – sorry for the bother; here’s an explanation of why we’re doing it.
It felt good to be involved in something that aims to push forward the urgency of climate change to the top of the world agenda. I’ve read a lot of criticisms of XR too, and whilst I don’t think it’s perfect, when you look at the core agenda it seems hard to argue with. Tell the truth about climate change, make the issue urgent, declare an emergency.
The official demands are as follows:
01 Tell the truth
Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
02 Act Now
Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
03 Beyond Politics
Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
Everyone who turned up that day seemed to have such honest values and reasons for being there, it was so refreshing to be in a city and feel like part of something positive, rather than being drowned in consumption and chaos.
It seems like XR are creating ripples of influence within politics so that can only be a good thing.
After the early morning demonstration, we slowly filtered back into the buzz of the city, shunning attempts to find the same level of peace and harmony through phone-filled cafés, and retreating instead to the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid.
Rainbow tulips, a renowned collection of bonsai trees and a very hot room filled with tropical plants helped to restore the sense that something real can indeed be found within the concrete confines of the capital.
After that, we zoomed back to Asturias in a very fast blablacar journey that only took 4 hours. It was surprisingly stress free for a fleeting city visit, I could even dare to say I had fun!
On return, the chiquititas were laying more rapidly, and now we’re up to at least three definite layers, with bright marigold yolks. I’ve started building a coop in the garden made out of the old doors and windows, and putting up a 2m fence to protect both them and the vegetables. As usual, it’s taking a lot longer than planned. But we’ll get there.
There are a lot of things to do since we’ve had the new piece of land, and somehow another week goes by without being able to cross any major project off the list. The lean-to green house has moved down on the priority list from “finish this week” to “make next winter”, we still need to finish liming the doors and windows that were installed months ago, finish the garden coop, scythe, cardboard and cucho La Vega, and plant out most seedlings after the full moon.
We’re trying to get into biodynamic farming and experiment with following the moon cycles, so far I am quite impatient but feel that it may have some gravity. Nik is reading up a lot and much more patient, we just got a book about it which should help. Seedlings keep drying out so hopefully this plus sorting out the broken spring water system will improve things.
Now it’s time to pick elderflower and make it fizzy with sugar and water. We’re driving to Portugal with many stops, starting on Friday, maybe selling some tasty vegetarian food out the back of the van to pilgrims on the camino. How do kimchi latkes and fermented beets sound?
Peace and Pollen x