Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 19:04:33
From: Claude Marthaler firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: "GIBRALTAR' STRAIGHT"
Granada, Spain, km 118400
The legendary Hercules had separated Africa from Eurasia, opening a passage from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. In Arabic as in French, the word "detroit" (straight) means narrowness (etroitesse/dayq) and despair (detresse/mutadayq).
Daily, Moroccans who had conquered Andalusia a long time ago, try to reach the "promised continent" by "pateras" (small boats). Many of them die in the current. Their Berbere general Iben Thareq had even given his name to Gibraltar. Today one doesn't say he has emigrated, but "hreg" (he has burnt) his documents, his past. As Edouardo Galleano put it best: "The belly is a part of the soul. It's door is the mouth."
I knew my journey would have a sense only by having an end. The 14 kilometers of Gibraltar's strait, at the northern extremity of Africa was a ritual of passage like the hole of a needle. I felt immigrated from inside and from outside, but unlike the deadly risk taken by Africans to escape despair, I came back to my land of origin, another tectonic plate. Born on the good side.
Europe straight away, by highway to the Gibraltar's rock. High way! A motorized spirit, noise and gas instead of voice and handshaking, like a sudden intractable human desert. I could only come back in space, not in time.
I eat Moroccan sardines with bread on a beach where young British citizen drank soft drinks, ate French fries and flirted freely. There was an unmistakable air of holiday. As a pretty woman who spoke English and Spanish with no accent told me : "Gibraltar gets everything, we just go shopping across, but have to study in England." The British hold in that rock a military base with a still irreparable nuclear submarine stuck in the harbor.
I rode around like on a velotrack: to feel some speed, to quit even quicker Gibraltar. The first night in Europe I camped behind a restaurant. The Spanish owner brought me a huge salad. The next morning, he offered me a copious breakfast, filled up my panniers with bread, bacon and a bottle of red wine. (My yak's weight becoming a parable of my emotions.) Welcome to Europe!
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