Tuesday, 25 May 2010

City No More.

A middle aged man laughs heartily. He is sitting in the shadow opposite his house, sipping Terere with some neighbors.  His house is the only one standing in the block and looks precipitously on the edge. "I'm working" he says, "all of us are." And they all laugh. The neighborhood of Zona Sul, his neighborhood will not be here soon. It is to be flooded in favor of the new dam of Encarnation. He told me it will be in 15 days.

It's a singular place. Most of the buildings still stand although they seem abandoned for years. Apparently they're still occupied. Among them there's ruble, mortar and bricks. Some streets are already filling up with water and are impassable. In the background monstrous bulldozers are working furiously. Mounts of red soil are shifted continuously, sometimes overpowering the leaning walls. Groups of men and kids break down buildings with sledgehammers. They collect the iron within the concrete, the clean and neatly stack up the bricks, the salvage whatever can be reused.

And at the same time, on every pavement and street corner an immense open market is open. Fruits, corn, houseware, clothes, everything. The people seem relaxed, they have lunch and laugh, take their siesta and gossip. You'd be forgiven to think that this place has been the same for years. But it hasn't, it's slowly being torn down or being abandoned, the world is literally collapsing around them. They'll have to move out soon, some have already. The old man with the glasses is crossing the street and muttering "ruined, all ruined". He seemed sad about it but somehow not upset.