Thursday, March 16, 2006

an old dream of Catia ....

The streets were familiar but , all the same, I didn't know exactly where I was. It must have been Catia but not my old neighbourhood, rather the bits of La Cortada or Gramoven or Pro-Patria where we weren't allowed to go as children, because they were 'dangerous' (i now believe this really meant 'lower class than us' or something of this sort).

There were several parts to this dream; in the first I seemed to be wandering in Casalta, making my way back from somewhere. I saw Bill Clinton being led into a house, a very small crowd of onlookers outside at a certain distance, mostly children, commenting -they didn't seem to be aware of who he was, only the fact that he looked foreign and 'gringo' and, perhaps, important, with an entourage of body-guards and people in suits. I went into the house unchallenged and spoke to him, while his minders seemed to get restless and I was thinking of that poor Brazilian guy shot by the police in the London Underground..

After a short while I left and wandered towards Calle Colombia, skirting around the block where Jose's 'Pre-Universitarian Institute' was,and around the Shopping Centre which seemed somehow to be undone,or perhaps not yet built, but somehow never got there. I got lost and couldn't figure out where I was; it was an even poorer neighbourhood and I was confronted by a group of young men, who asked me where I was going. I told them I was on my way back from a gig and looking for a friend in that neighbourhood and needed to retrieve my violin from him (and thinking at the same time that it was a very, very stupid lie -I can't play violin for toffee and could very easily be found out -these guys wouldn't take kindly to having the mickey taken off them). They pointed me in the direction of a house on the steep street ahead, a house that seem to be built like a staircase, in different levels that ended up at each end on the street above and below.

This is where I met her. She opened the door and let me in, seemed to recognise me even though I was sure I'd never seen her before -she thought I was a friend of her brother's. She gave me food and we talked for a very long time. I liked her, I liked her a lot but I knew she was out of my reach. With a pang in the heart I explained to her that I needed to move on. I asked her again where I was. I was not in Pro Patria as I sort of imagined: she showed me a map in which I recognised nothing of the Catia I had lived in for so many years. She pointed at the extreme left of the map, near the sea. That's where we were. I had no idea, I don't think there were buildings anywhere as near the coast when I lived there. And this was many miles upon miles of dangerous slums away. How do I get to where I need to be, then? She pointed at a place that seemed to be in the middle of the map. This is where you want to go. There is no easy way at this time of night for you to get there. How about a taxi, I said. A taxi? Here? was the answer. My urge to leave was growing in the same proportion as the attraction for this woman with a soft voice and almond eyes. I needed to get out of here....

She went to get something and ask her brother how I could possibly leave the neighbourhood. That gave me the opportunity. I calmly grabbed my things while she was in there in those rooms, put my shoes on (why had i been bare-footed in a stranger's house?) and shouted a thanks and good-bye as I went out and closed the door behind me. There were two taxis outside, with fiery letters on the side and illuminated signs on top. But I hesitated, as I didn't know whether I had enough money, and they both left. There I stood, in the middle of this place, without any clue of how to get out and knowing full well that it was an extremely dangerous place, for anyone, but in particular for someone with long hair dressed in a foreign fashion. The street was empty. I started to walk on the high pavement, not knowing where I was or where I was going.....

(August 2005)


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