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In my walk I’m open to almost anything, taking different streets from the ones I’ve walked before, striking conversations with a few people on the way, stopping for coffee and a sit down for a few minutes.
Some places make me feel nostalgic. I was born in this area and I have lots of memories associated with certain places. Others are new and sometimes surprising. The sun often shines in the winter, and it lends a fabulous energy and receptiveness to experiencing things around me.
Sometimes I wish I could come back again, but life has taken such turns that it’s almost impossible. In many ways, this is paradise. I do however encounter a lot of negative feelings about the place among the locals. They make me feel foolish because my soul has a grin from head to toe as I take in my surroundings, the light, the air, the sounds, with such ridiculous degree of happiness that surely there must be something wrong with me.
There are problems here, many of them. The shops keep closing yet everyone buys from the large hypermarkets. The cafes keep closing yet everyone is home using Facebook or watching TV. Cultural spaces lie empty because there isn’t enough interest or perhaps promotion. Jobs, industry, etc. struggle and fail because there isn’t enough economic strategy and support, and because the population has massively decreased. People are having fewer children and young people move to large cities or abroad. In its wake there is a legacy of empty houses, obsolete factories, ruins, neglected natural spaces and abandoned vehicles. Even agriculture, which could provide some subsistence, suffers from lack of water. It’s sad, so sad that things have become this way. I feel a bit angry that people aren’t more proactive. That they keep sinking in their own mistakes and don’t realize that each and every person can make a difference and change things for the better. But maybe they can’t, they’re too close to the problem, too broke to care. I do my bit, as much as I can, which isn’t a lot as I can’t visit often.
There is only one way to make this country better which is if a huge number of foreigners come and live here, understand the potential of this place and start creating ventures and opportunities with a fresh energy. Houses are cheap as chips as long as there’s a bit of work done to them, the infrastructures aren’t bad either and education is usually of a very good standard. This country needs explorers who can see it with new eyes. And local authorities and companies need to be more supportive. Things aren’t well for sure, but it’s an amazingly beautiful country. I can only hope for its future.
All images ©Juno Doran, using Mamiya 7 II and Kodak Portra 400.