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Otras Luces


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 write this from a cold damp grey dormitory city on the outskirts of Cologne, Germany. My wife,
being as persuasive as wives tend to be, somehow convinced this affirmed climatic refugee to go
against my natual winter migratory instincts and head north for the holidays. It's not my first time in
this country and while my German is limited to about ten words, the majority of them numbers, I
can't say I feel more foreign here than I do anywhere else. That said, I can't help but compare my
surroundings with the city that I now call home, Caceres. Even moreso when you consider the easy
scapegoat that Frau Merkel has become in these times of crisis for those less propensive to self-reflection.

I'm certainly no fan of the Troika and, like you, had about as much to do with the bank bailouts, failed toll-roads and empty airports as I did with the assassination of JKF, but all of those
delusions of grandeur aside, you can always learn something from travel.

The streets here seem dead. Shadows of people cross the street way ahead of me but the few shops remaining are closed for the holidays. The only lights from here to the big city are those that tell you when to cross the street and those that help traffic flow. The street lights' respective reflections flickering in the ever present puddles on the mended streets are about the closest thing I've seen to decoration so close to Christmas. Or at least it would seem that way if you don't take the time to look a little more closely.

It gets dark here just after five and it's then that the moribund lanes show the faintest glimmer of life. From around the curtained windows of the solid little houses that look out into the empty streets, little LED lights start to timidly blink and remind the passerbyers that it's Christmas time. Where the town hall has decided not to act, it seems that the people have. Sure, the combined lights of all the houses that have chosen to show their Christmas spirit wouldn't equal even one of the snowflakes on the Torre Bujaco but it's the thought that counts, isn't it?

I may not understand why a caña costs the same here as it does in Spain. Or why diesel is even cheaper here in Germany when we take the salaries and standards of living in account but I do admire the fact that the Germans haven't waited for the government to show them how to celebrate their holidays


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