My Melilla, how much damage they have done to you and how little they have known you. Now you are back in the spotlight…and once again for the worse, once again they have crossed you out with a red pen.
I have taken your name around the world and the answer is always the same: Melilla, where is it? As your slogan indicates, you are the great unknown of Spain… and regarding the world… they don’t even know where you are. Besides, if you are a person who has come from abroad to stay, surely this sounds familiar to you?
– Sister, I’m going to Melilla to work, I’ve got a job there. “And what are you going to do? There’s nothing there, what a shame!
-Mum, I have a boyfriend in Melilla. “But weren’t there any men in the world to fix you up with one from those lands?
-Grandma, I’m going to study in Melilla. “There my poor little boy, let’s see if they’re going to kidnap you and leave you there! “.
-My friend, they’ve sent me to Melilla, they say they earn very well from my work there… “What a pity, you’re going to spend it all on aeroplanes”.
– Boss, I’m leaving my job, I’m going back to my homeland and I’m going to start my own tourism company… “You’re crazy, if it’s too small there’s nothing to show!
Does it look familiar? Me too. The truth is that most people have a distorted image of the city due to ignorance and the media. The traveller arrives here without expectations, these are true explorers, adventurers, curious and eager to discover what is hidden in this piece of Spain in Africa…and when they arrive and see…OMG! The magic explodes in their heads and they think…, “but how badly Melilla is sold, the world has to know what this place hides” and then they ask… Why isn’t Melilla promoted as a tourist destination? I find this part funny, but the background is worrying and painful as well.
So… the mysterious Melilla, who are you really?
Yes, the city has an A and a B side… but what city doesn’t? If you’ve travelled the world, you’ll know what I’m talking about. On the contrary, you’ll still be lamenting that you live in the worst city in Spain and that you can’t wait to move. It is also true that, from Melilla, everything is more difficult, but that defines our fighting and courageous character, but what if the real enemy of the city is us, its citizens? If you, Melillense, have become accustomed to going out on the streets with a red pen, the one that points, judges, mistreats and constantly criticises your city… But what about the B side, what about the green pen? The one that appreciates, values, admires and feels proud of its land, its heritage, its beaches, its culture, its streets and buildings, its gastronomy, its people, its joy and its zest for life.
For all these reasons, if you come to Melilla you will have to take several risks:
1.To mix with different cultures, get to know their customs and traditions. Empathise and learn that your world is not the world. And all in 12 square kilometres.
2.Seeing a fence and valuing it, understanding that you are the same as everyone else, you are not more than anyone else, that you were simply born on this side of it. That is called humility.
3.To get to know the second richest city in modernist architecture in Spain. Only surpassed by the great Barcelona.
4.The risk of being caught by the smell of the sea along its beaches and coves. Not to mention the climate and its year-round sunshine.
5.The risk of being able to visit every museum for free and get lost in one of its labyrinthine underground archaeological galleries.
6.The risk of being able to enter a majestic old walled city with centuries of history and home to great empires.
7.The risk of getting to know other flavours such as cous cous or tajine… mmmm yummy!
8.The risk of strolling through their neighbourhoods and a neighbour invites you to his house for tea and pastries… without knowing you, because that’s how we are!
9.The risk of encountering a Christian procession passing by the door of a synagogue or a mosque, while the lights of the Jewish festival of Pesach illuminate its streets or those of the celebration of Ramadan.
10. Seeing different clothes, colours, accents… in short, a cultural explosion. And all in the same street.
…and yes, you’re right, maybe it’s not the best time for you to come and visit now…or for you Melilla native to go for a walk today, but when this happens let’s remember to go out in the street with the green pen and value that we live in a unique, hospitable, historic city, where our greatest pride is this little piece of land in Africa and our greatest victory is the exemplary coexistence between our five cultures that live here, yes five. So now is the time to support your city while the world stops and when everything starts again you have two options:
1. Sitting on the sofa at home watching Netflix, lamenting and blaming the virus, politicians, minors, immigrants or your neighbour for your illness! Someone has to be blamed, right?
2.That you start to activate your mind, change the chip and discover all the options and opportunities that this great little city has to offer.
Because, in short, Melilla has a risk, and that is the risk of wanting to stay.
If you are one of those who are proud of your city, and one of those who carry the green pen in your pocket every time you go out in the street, please like and share!