They say that our land turned into Africa in recent weeks, that the meteorological conditions were closest to those of that parched land. In the past, anyway, sometime around the end of summer, a thin layer of sand would blow in from Africa, gently covering cars with a fine, almost invisible, layer of African sand.
Writers cite this country as a source of inspiration for magical realism, which occurs daily. A woman in a sundress with neon-yellow sunflowers enters a cage at the zoo, to pet a lion. In the middle of the day. In the middle of the cage of untamed beasts. The explanation? The woman had taken that very cub in to her home, to feed it during the dire times that had befallen this city. So one does not have to be a poet to be a poet here; it is enough to live here and to look around.
If you go to that zoo, you will often walk among the peacocks, because they let them out of their cages frequently enough. Sometimes it is enough to walk next to the zoo to see the peacocks in the trees, just sitting there, keeping their strange vigilance over the city streets below.
This city has more historical landmarks than any other in the region, but you will not see them displayed, you cannot find them on the internet, and only barely in books (for you would have to know where to find those books). This city seems to say: why would I declare who I am to people I don't know?
It is summer here. Today has been the first day we could breathe normally, without that oppressive heat, making it impossible to put the laundry away without breaking a sweat. As I sit before my computer, half writing this post, half surfing the net - I could not find a reference I wanted to use in this post - I hear the city waking up. After nine am! Now, the dogs are barking, I hear cutlery clashing against plates, it is breakfast time. I suppose everyone is like me, dreaming of the distant seas we stare at, longingly, on our TV screens, but learning how to be lazy in our little flats. Some people are outside in their cars, honking their little horns: those are the people who have a means of transport to reach the mountains in this country, where you can walk the wild fields and pick your own herbs for tea.
And while something has been lost from this city; once upon a time, grannies in black veils sold village cheese at the market stalls, the magic city has not dissipated. It lingers in the old stories that refuse to go away because the hardship remains. Chicks with their mother hen are transported great distances in the boot of a single car; tiny gardens are formed with tomatoes and onion. These micro-scale exchanges are the final bastions; the warrior factions who hide in the hills. Will the magic remain in the onslaught of shiny malls and credit cards?
This summer, nobody went away on holiday, but Africa came to us, if only in the changed summer climate. We have been forced to slow down, to rethink; to dream again. What is it that we are looking for?