Excerpts from the email by Gaby from Barcelona, Spain:

That beach in Barcelona that you note, was an industrial wasteland, the first time I visited the city. You could not get to the sea from the city, neither for love nor money, as it was completely walled off. The small section of sand available to people, was a greasy and overpopulated backwater surrounded by industrial buildings. It was mostly a no go area for decent people, as it was a rough, working class, southern Spanish immigrant hang out place, better to be avoided for fear of being mugged or stabbed.

Nowadays, I go down there with my wife and kids. I can swim as far as I want to. As long as I save something for the way back, I don't see why not, even though my family worries about me disappearing between distant waves. I can look back on the city, and just stay there, bobbing up and down, appraising its skyline.

The sands of time have this way of covering and uncovering the deeds of people, of corroding memory and feelings, they leave nothing untouched, except, perhaps, blind hope in a better future, the most fearsome of human traits. Without it we would have been extinct long time ago, because life without hope -and above all, hope on impossible things- cannot be endured or enjoyed for long.

From this distant shore of alleged beauty and happiness, I can only hope that you will see much better things for your country and your people. Perhaps, one day, we will both swim far away into the waves of your sea, to look back with pleasure at what we see.

Until then, I wish you all the best.

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