The two sides of life

Arrived in Barcelona Thursday evening: Rain, rain, and nothing but rain. So much that the plane had to wait 15 minutes before it could land. Had never seen rain in Barcelona before.

Breakfast in a little cafe – fresh croissants, good coffee and orange juice. Luxury! Life feels great. A young man from North Africa passes by, begging for money. I tell him to join me to the bakery, where I can buy him food. He seems very hungry, scared too. It takes time until we can order what he wants. I can smell that he has not changed clothes for some time, has not seen a shower for days or weeks either. He just wants two small croissants, a sweet cake and a bottle of mineral water! Nothing more! Once he has the food in his hands, he eagerly eats the sweets, says thank-you and off he goes. He really was very hungry. While I pay, I keep thinking about him, his life, where he comes from and what his future will be like.

We rent a car a few steps from the small café and start our drive north to Costa Brava. The further we drive from Barcelona, the greener the landscape is. We drive along one of the main roads leading to France. It is not a highway, just a two lane road, but with quite heavy traffic. Half naked girls on high heels walk the road. I count to at least 20. Each of them seems to have her special spot. They don’t look pretty at all, but they are young. Cars stop; a girl walks away with a customer. I would like to stop our car, step out, scream and beat the customer up, talk to the girl about her life. But I don’t. I am so angry about what I see and I am angry with myself for doing nothing. Where are the laws that prohibit this type of organized prostitution in Europe? Where are the politicians who fight against prostitution? Where are those who protect these girls from their pimps and where are those who help the girls find another way of living?

We arrive at Costa Brava, in a small picturesque village, situated high above the coast. Expensive houses and villas dot the small road leading down to the beach. One really needs to have money to buy one of these houses! The little town of Begur is clean, and neat and wealthy. It is the perfect retreat for a weekend holiday. No beggars, and no prostitutes line the small lanes here. Expensive cars are parked in the parking lot outside the village.

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