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What's the Secret Password?


Writing in the local paper. Local issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

I tell my North American friends that I live inside a castle and I suppose that I’m not technically lying, though I suppose fortress would be closer to the truth. My house is across a narrow lane from those crumbling walls that the Romans built so long ago that encircle the old town of Caceres. Ochre coloured earthen barriers that once proved extremely problematic to attacking armies and now prove to be the same for urban planners. As recently as the the 19th century, politicians of the day decided to knock down a stretch of the wall near the Plaza del Socorro in order to 'let the bad winds out' (and no, it's not some sort of proveb), not to mention to enable one of their benefactors to build a huge palace along the wall.

The more things change, the more they stay they same it seems. 

Thanks to that brilliant bit of early urban planning, evil winds and just slightly less evil cars now have four ways in and out of the UNESCO core and if you aren’t a taxi, one way in and two out. Gone are the days of sentries at the gates, now bollardoes stand guard and decide who comes in and who doesn’t. I once watched as a fire truck sat and waited for the police to open the old city to them. I have since found out that every emergency vehicle has a card to let them in, but that day it must have been left in another pair of pants. But this is the problem, who can come in and when. Understandably, the town hall has passed a law mandating that deliveries can only be made in the morning. A good policy for the bars, offices and government buildings that are found in the old city, but what about the people who actually live here? In a country with just under 6 million unemployed, there are still people who do work and contrary to what some believe, not all are civil servants who fit the black legend profile and can leave work to do the shopping or wait at home for their latest Amazon order without fear. The newly appointed commission to better the Old Town's problems rightly worries about the state of the wall and the ways to pretty it up at night, but before doing so, maybe we need to make it a little easier for those who do live inside this fortress before they, like the 19th century evil winds, are forced to move out.

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