It has been three years since I have been here in Valencia, a city I have lived in and loved for nearly 30 years. A few days ago my friend Paco and I (he’s a native of the city) walked through the streets of the old city remembering what it was like before so many of the small shops got converted into bars and restaurants for tourists. This change has happened only during the past couple of years. Paco’s former bank is now a Taco Bell (!!!) and the shop where one was able to buy newspapers from all over the world, and where I used to buy the international edition of the NY Times every morning, closed its doors a few months ago. On the plus side, Paco says at least Taco Bell will not swindle as much money from its clients as the bank did from theirs, but still, Starbucks and KFC in Valencia only makes me sad. Yes, change is inevitable, and Paco and I may sound like a couple of grumpy old guys, but I feel like a dinosaur, walking through the streets of Now and, at the same time, in the streets of my memories of years ago.
Here’s a sketch in ink and watercolor of one of the many bridges that cross the old riverbed of the river Turia, which the Valencianos rerouted 50 or so years ago after a disastrous flood and which has since been turned into an enormous park with bicycle paths, playgrounds, soccer fields, lots of shade for picnics, fountains for dogs to splash in, feral cats, paths for runners and benches for young lovers to entwine each like pairs of octopuses.
More sketches will follow in the days to come. Meanwhile, a hug to anyone who reads all this.