Day 56. Lisbon

День 56. Лиссабон.
  • Альфама (Alfama)
The Alfama is a mythological beast. It is a pretext for all kinds of sentimentalism, something everyone lays claim to for their own advantage. It does not shut itself off from any visitor, but the traveler can feel the ironic glances shot at him. … The traveler follows the winding alleys, almost brushing his shoulders between overhanging roofs barely a foot apart; he crosses sloping squares where different levels are accommodated by two or three flights of steps: he can see there is no shortage of flowers in the windows, or canaries in their cages, but the stench from the open gutters in the streets must be even stronger inside the houses, some of which have never seen the sun, and others at street level whose only window is the open front door. The traveler has seen much of the world and of life, and has never felt comfortable in the role of a tourist who goes somewhere, takes a look at it, thinks he understands it, takes photos of it and returns to his own country boasting that he knows the Alfama. The traveler must be honest. He went to the Alfama, but he does not know what it is. All the same, he walks and walks, and when he finally comes out at the Largo de Chafariz de Dentro – after being lost more that once as he knew he would be – he wants to immerse himself once more in its dark alleys, the twisting dead-end street, the slipper steps, until he feels he has at least learnt the first few words of the immense fialogue going on between houses, inhabitants, personal histories, laughter and the inevitable tears. Turned into a mythological beast by outsiders, the Alfama lives it own, difficult story. At times it is a healthy beast, at others it cowers in a corner licking the wounds that centuries of poverty have cut into its flesh and which do not heal. Even so, these houses have roofs, unlike other slums where the travelers’ eyes could discover no roofs and so doubted whether to call them houses at all. (© J. Saramago “Journey to Portugal”)

Альфама переживает свою фадо-драму... Музыка вырывается из всех окон...

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