Saturday, May 26, 2007

In the Land of Palaces

I have spent the last few days in the land of palaces, and the place is spectacular.

Brightly-colored palaces with tile roofs and bowed balconies jostle each other for space along canals and beaches. Fountains splash along cleverly bricked walks and streets, while gates and walls, (not all of them visible) enclose their manacured lawns and carefully planned plantings.
It is an amazing and startling land, a place where new palaces rise every day, and extravagence tops extravagence.

Certainly the owners of these stunningly perfect poems of architecture must be superior, happy and generous people, noble beyond common measure.

But walking among them, even where they are dining together on sumptuous feasts I see no joy, no happiness. Their palaces stand empty most of the year, unenjoyed by any, their yachts and watertoys hoisted and tarped over. They only visit for a few weeks out of the year and then they are off to the next house or palace, flitting from place to place in persuit of a happiness that eludes them as they spend on foods that cannot fill their emptiness and wine that cannot slake their thirst.

As I passed through this stunning land of palaces, only one smile of friendship greeted me, stranger though I was. Some prince, or merchant, or wealthy lawyer or trader?

No, an outcast, Hispanic and middle-aged but proud in his cowboy boots and straw hat, as he sat on his bicycle. I was greeted by one smile, while the palace-owners and their guests sourly dined and went about their leisure among their jewel-like palaces and shops, unable to find smiles even for each other.

The Hispanic on the bicycle was wealthier than all of these, and the center of their beautiful city.

I wish that they could see it.

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