As we learned on an earlier visit to Pompeii, there is so much of archaeological value that merits preservation in Italy, and too little money for the purpose. No matter where we live, though, all of us can do whatever is in our power to preserve and protect those precious Renaissance/Enlightenment values that, by facilitating freedom of enquiry, the rise of science, democracy and civil society, have generally kept the cancer of control by regressive, authoritarians (whether based in religion, politics or personal greed) at bay. (I wrote this sentence before the 2016 US election, Where is Rwanda? which has, I fervently hope, served as a wake-up call for many.) Through bright and dark times, the history of Bergamo over the past four hundred years incorporates elements of all those themes. It was a great delight to visit this living, yet mediaeval town that is not on the mass tourism itineraries.
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OFFSHORE ISLANDS MUTED BY sea-mist, breaking waves on white sand that stretches into the distance then, across the walking and cycle track, a busy highway to high-rise apartments and big hotels. Mountains behind, joggers with headphones, retirees striding out and keeping their hearts pumping while parrot-yellow spandex cocoons a very fat man who spins past on a slender racing bike. Map of Rwanda This could be early morning on a California or a Queensland beachfront, if it were not for the grazing horse, resting after hauling coconuts to the kiosk near the sign Escola de Surf. The day has just begun in Rio de Janiero’s beachfront Barra neighbourhood.
Across the road from the ocean was the open-fronted restaurant where we had dined the previous night, now with chairs stacked on tables, unlit and lifeless. One of our party had spotted this place earlier. It was not hard to tell tourists from locals, and it was a pretty obvious conclusion that those who live nearby would know the best places to eat, so we followed them. It was a memorable and inexpensive meal: Camarones and Polvo Portugesa – big shrimp and grilled octopus tentacles with boiled potatoes, spinach – washed down with a Chilean sauvignon blanc. And, later, at the insistence of the owner, a sweet local liquor that poured like oil and caused what felt like instant shrinkage of the brain’s frontal cortex. Some of us would return later in the week to repeat the octopus experience. Others tried different dishes, but nothing seemed to equal the shrimp plus octopus.
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