It’s hard to realise how “local” (in its strongest of meanings) we are when we stand still. Roots are strong: they tie us firmly to the centre of things and keep us from harm. All we need is around us, providing safety, but also blocking our view of what’s beyond. It’s hard to build up the will to move when you don’t feel the need of going anywhere, and you have no idea what lies just beyond reach, out of sight.
Valencia, Spain, 3 October 2016.
An evening out having a low-quality beer in a place close to my hotel. On one side the beach, windy and rather empty on a regular Monday evening. On the other, a short alley and at the end of it an empty esplanade with trees and benches and whatever else is necessary to make the place the buzzing place-to-be in the high season. You can almost picture families from anywhere in northern Europe, kids with ice-cream all over their brand new clothes, teenage sons and daughters hanging out comfortably out of sight for fleeting romance or a rebellious smoke. But there’s really none of that. The few bars and restaurants, some claiming to be clubs even, collect only a few customers, all in their late 30s. If you come here on a Monday evening from downtown Valencia, you do it to stretch the summer a bit, to keep the memory of summertime partying close by. And you do it by car. You don’t walk here. A few mid-range vehicles in the esplanade, nothing fancy or reminiscent of the crowd (probably) populating the area in August. Continue reading ““Caballero, una moneda para ser un Hombre?””
Athens, July 2016.
Walking North West from Monastiraki, past small squares and open air cafés, the Athenian landscape changes gradually but perceptibly. Streets and buildings gain a shabbier and unkempt character. The open places and green areas become fewer and loose their charm. Our hotel, in the heart of Evripidou, stands out like the last stronghold against the advancing decline. Yet, it seems as if dirt and neglect could be scraped off with the tip of a knife to reveal traces of happier and wealthier days. The atmosphere is that of a quiet and bewildered effort to adjust to a new and not yet fully understood disgrace.
The hardship the Greek people have experienced in the past couple of years are known to all, portrayed in newspapers, TV news and international negotiations. They are here fully visible. Tangible almost. Continue reading “Ancient struggles”