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Viva Palestina: France to Madrid via San Sebastian in Spain

Posted by on Feb 17th, 2009 and filed under Opinion, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

By YVONNE RIDLEY

IF you ever thought travelling in a convoy was easy, think again.

This latest drive from Bordeaux in France to Madrid via San Sebastian in Spain was back-breaking and some of the vehicles just simply gave up ... unlike their drivers.

The indomitable spirit, true grit and determination of those on board Viva Palestina refused to be beaten by mere mechanical failures and set backs which challenge long distance travellers.

Tool kits, spare parts and willing hands were in evidence everywhere, along with lashings of wonderful hot tea brewed by a man wearing a bright red Fez.

I'm not sure what time the main body of the convoy rolled up to a sports hall on the outskirts of Madrid but it is now 3am (gmt) on Tuesday and I know scores of my fellow travellers are still on the road.

Unable to face the challenges of the steep hills, some have simply headed south to the ferry where they will wait for the rest of us to catch up.

Spirits were lifted in San Sebastian when all the vehicles pulled in to a giant car park where they were greeted by George Galloway, MP, the mastermind behind Viva Palestina. We'll all be back up in a few hours time to get the latest news and developments planned en route from George.

There's still a long way to go, but as I talked to the group it is quite clear that the focus is Gaza and each and every one on board is determined to reach the Palestinians there.

"It's that focus which keeps us going. We do feel like moaning, and it's only Day Three but we get our inspiration from each other and from the example set by the Palestinians.

"Let's face it, they could have given up a long time ago but their determination to rebuild their shattered lives feeds our determination to help them," said one man from Birmingham which is represented by 20 vehicles on the convoy.

Another morale booster, they say, has been Press TV's coverage on both the website and TV news which has been avidly watched by the families, friends and supporters in Britain as well as across the world.

No other media outlet has been on the convoy since Day 1 apart from Press TV which is becoming the first station of choice for viewers tuning in to Sky 515 and other satellites in search of news without spin. You can also use the website www.presstv.com to download the news live.

The reason for me filing this particular report to you so late? Well the Press TV crew also suffered a malfunction - our GPS system went down and yours truly did the navigating from Bordeaux to San Sebastian. I knew confidence in my map reading skills collapsed when our technical engineer Omid Gharbifard began using his compass and the position of the stars!

The good news is that we now have a replacement electronic navigating system in place and Omid has already keyed in the final destination ... Gaza City.

So, can we do it? In the words of a certain Mr Obama: "Yes we can."

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