The “barrio” of Santa Clara lays far from the old city. It is a knot of white houses and gardens, a church, some bars in the outskirt of Seville. It was formerly an USA military base. There are hundreds of them here in Europe, one more bad heritage of the second world war. Years ago the weapons moved away, the ground was sold and the neighborhood grew up. It is a curious spot to explore. I am walking with Marcos, he was born here forty years ago. He is about to change my time perception once again…
He could be escaped from an unfinished tale, a strange story where the author lost the point and gave up the story before the end. The characters were standing there, quite disappointed, looking at the writer walking away, and then, after a little doubt, they jumped from the paper to the world to find a story by them self.
Polite, smart, extremely relaxed and comfortable everywhere, not tall but strong body, he has a sweet and sour voice, the pitch a bit high, smart little eyes, a fur of brown air and glasses on all the time, he constantly rides an old motor bike, wearing an old style motorcycle helmet. His gentleman manners and his dressing style make him looks to belong to another age.
Besides to the many jobs he masters, Marcos trades. He trades everything, every time. A month ago he came back from a holiday in Peru with a bag full of necklace made of stones. Very nice stuff. He tried to sell them to friends. One time was a car from Germany, a second hand hand-gliding, Moroccan carpets, a rocking horse, a pack of review from 30′ written in Cyrillic… But he does more, much more, he trades situations and meetings, job offers, a new muse for a passionate painter, an idea for a designer, a friend to share a passion, a place to finally make a dream real. Actually the flat I rent comes from him.
He does not trade for a matter of money. He trades as in a sort of chess playing with the world, in which his wit has to find a secret geometry able to make meet something and someone, a game to jump obstacles, to remove distances, to make things travel and hit a good destination. He builds bridges from people, things, and places, he establishes connections, he opens gates, he shows routes. If a crossroad could be a man would be him.
We stroll in Santa Clara, his birth place, the place of his childhood, and he builds a new bridge between Seville and me, between a place and a traveler, a bridge of words, the story of Santa Clara and its people. It is a simple story, tales of childhood, how they played here, what they did, what’s about the school, how the daily life of a normal child was here thirty years ago, and how the life changed so quickly, so deeply.
We look a lot to the future but it seems to me that we are loosing our past. Our societies have almost no time to look back at 10 or 20 years ago, and when we do it, when we look back, we think the past in terms of history. But history is a story of big happenings, wars and treaties, generals and kings, there are no common people, not as individuals, what interest to history is the crowd, the society, the individuality get lost together with our names and emotions.
Time perception and memories are strange points of traveling. I have no past when I touch a new place, but I need the past in order to understand the present. The only way I have to get this past I need is listening to people. Their words create my past, a place where colors, people, smells, matters are just evocations: the substance of the memory is the same of the dreams.
The one who tells changes our time perception, he brings the past to the present and gives it to my mind as memories. We do it every time we tell, in a way strongest than paper: words comes from a longer uninterrupted line that cross languages and places, from mouth to mouth language changed but it has never been forgotten.
I am cycling back, Marcos is gone on his motorbike. Maybe it is last time I see him, he is going to France but before to go he gave me a past that I missed, the same past I lived in another place, my home land, a past that I will give to other travelers who will come to my land.
There are cars, roads, traffic lights around, and people and voices. I listen to them between the noise of the engines. Despite of my personal time perception the day goes on normally, the clock has no doubt: it is 16:40.