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The Bonn Diaries: March to end Coal

Monday, November 06, 2017

Update: 1:52PM IT was not the plan but when we landed in Germany, we hit the ground running and literally did that when we heard about the Beyond the Coal march.

More than 25,000 people gathered from all sorts of civil society sectors to literally make some noise.

There were your passive marchers and then there were your more direct protestors.

And then there were those dressed in the protective gear of people who Work in nuclear power plants. And everything in between!

Now imagine landing in a new country minus your gear and clothes without local communications or currency and with not very clear instructions to make your way 62km away to Bonn.

It was a recipe for disaster but journalists are a resourceful bunch so between the four of us and a seasoned traveler in Iliesa Tora, we were more than ok.

Within an hour of getting to Bonn, we found the M'nsterplatz or town square where some 25,000 people gathered.

Called to action by a drum line dressed in nuclear plant workers clothing and several loudspeaker stations playing pop music and carrying huge signs, there were man, woman and children of all age and size at the march.

There were people on crutches and those who danced the 5 hour long route.

I likened it to victory marches of Fiji's Melrose Cup and Olympic Gold win in terms of size and sheer passion.

As you do, we physically chased this 25,000 people march in search of Pacific Islander and Fijian climate activists. We kept chasing them unaware of the size of the event. I fear I'll be paying with body aches throughout the next few days.

These people were passionate about civil action and we were too about telling their story.

The Pandas of WWF's Pacific team kept their message short; keep Coal in the hole, keep oil in the soil - and the Paris Agreement goals to reduce global warming may be achieved.

The positivity and excitement was infectious and so both myself and a colleague temporarily forgot our size or the lack of physical attributes necessary to run or walk really fast over several kilometers.

We are in a lot of pain now but i think that march set the tone for our two week stay in Bonn.

I of course managed to get separated from the rest of my team and for a split second it worries me.

But within an hour of being lost I found Fijians and saw the familiar sight of the World Conference Center I'd been looking at pictures of for months.

I think I also managed to shock Ambassador Nazhat Shameem's Geneva staff who in return for my help with heavy lifting their grocery shopping got me past some heavy security at protected areas.

So I detoured from the March a bit to get registered and take a quick lonesome walk through the Bula Zone.

After a breather it was back to the March where I ran into Reverend James Bhagwan who caught me trying to get a cab.

Padre quickly scolded my 'carbon emitting' travel plans and manage to convince me to get into the subway and get back to our hotel as eco efficiently as possible.

It was so exciting I forgot to be frightened and so passionate an experience to observe that I forgot to be careful physically.

I'll be in muscle pain for another view days but what's pain for all the atmosphere of climate activism!


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