By Yvonne Ridley
as easy as it sounds
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
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
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
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
* Yvonne Ridley will be giving regular updates from the convoy
for the duration of the trip. Her website is www.yvonneridley.org