Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back to the question, why Assomada?

June 10th

Why not? How simple would this answer be if you had some information on this city, for nothing I will write now will convey its complexity, but I can only try, and hopefully your imagination will take over; explore its idea.
Assomada is not Praia for one. It does not carry the heavy weight of 'Capital,' and it does not want its presence either; this I have already asserted. It is a city that received the title of 'city' only five years ago, so it is a baby; an infant.
As a young child it is full of spirit and intrigue. It looks onto other places with some admiration but it also looks at itself as a source of admiration, for it studies itself much like a child does.
Assomada is in a place of change, surely, for it has grown into a city. It has grown rapidly by immigrant money. The Diaspora called for it and It responded. Earth cliffs have been moved, torn part and spaced so this once small town could flourish into the island's second city. It sits at the top of a mountain whose peak is now the physical city. It has been opened and opened more in the last few years so homes could be built and dreams could be materialized. Space, and imagination, was once all some citizens had; a desolate site where a small group of people made their home after noticing its fresh mountain peak winds and its broad overlooking shoulders; these were the days of the 'Portuguese.' But now Assomada is becoming limited, for like many cities it is where most people are moving to; mostly the young and the restless.
Cities grow unpredictably; one never knows which pocket of homes will one day turn into the compilation called city. It is true that you need space, or an area that can be opened for space. With this in mind Assomada will only grow only so far; it is, after all, on the top of a mountain.
And so we think of its combinations. It is a city that is in the middle of the island. It does not have a beach next to it, though the closest one is only a thirty minute ride away. The island is not that big to begin with. It is a place that one still knows every one, its identity is still in tact holding on to those days of small community living; in Assomada if you are new you too will soon be known.
Up to very recently it grew at a small rate, making sure that people knew each other and that strangers would’t be such for long. Land was bought by the Diaspora, those members from afar, or who once where far and now are near enough to buy; for most of them always planned to move back. With the dying age being pushed higher there's an increase of people who are actually living what they have worked for all their immigrant lives, their retirement. Most such persons are away in large Western cities and want some part of this sentiment to stay with them, Assomada than gives them this middle space Home and Travel, of old and new, but it also gives them the very new, the mobile, the faster, the more accessible. This is where the city now lays, between the rural idea, which is holding on tight in light of recent, and seen, events about its older brother Praia - a city whose crime level is rising, where pollution is increasing and prices are soaring, where traffic is now common and insecurity a new closing horizon - and the rural mountains of scarcity and distance, safety and common; of predictability.
Assomada can now give off some pleasures of Praia, those wanted and asked for, such as closeness, shopping stores, and differences. As a new city it is arranging itself so it may provide its members with the necessities to fulfill their much anticipated needs; they don’t have to run to Praia any more, they can now buy car and home insurance in Assomada, check and rearrange their flight plans, and get lost in the new 'modern night life', you can visit a local hospital now and not have to run to Praia, eat in small restaurants or just hang out in the local city plaza.
It’s been said that Assomada, being a city and all, is actually the safest place in the whole island. By listening to this one should not think that the island itself is unsafe, on the contrary, comparing to known countries and islands of the size Santiago is remarkably safe, but it is interesting to me that Assomada is considered safer then most smaller rural communities.
In my reflections of the city I wonder what's to happen to it, as it grows and is influenced by its older brother Praia. They are, after all, only an hour away from each other! I know that it will have to change, though I feel I would like it not to, but change is a predictble future for everything we know, so many of the aches Praia is now dealing with will in time reach its core. But for now, this place in the middle, the space where the rural and the urban meet, the place of absolute wonder and balance. This is why CICER is here, for this is a study in and off itself of what balanced community could be like. It is a place of Magic really, a place where stranger won't be such for long.

No comments: